Shoulders have been the main focus in my classes this week. The shoulder region tends to be a place in the body where many of us hold a lot of stress, so it is beneficial to release tension in this area in order to take care of our overall wellbeing. It also felt appropriate to address the shoulder region now as I am finding myself easily tightening around the shoulders due to the colder weather this time of year. I imagine I am not the only one lifting shoulders slightly, and sort of closing the chest, when temperatures are falling!
What I find fascinating is the fact that with shoulder work in yoga, you can, in my experience, quickly notice a big difference in terms of both strength and flexibility. Shoulder work in yoga is, on one hand, about allowing the shoulder blades and joints to move freely and safely in all the directions they are designed to move in your body. And on the other hand, it is about the muscles you build in the shoulder region as you practice yoga postures. I can mention postures such as standing on all 4s, Plank or Downward Facing Dog, which will all strengthen the shoulder area, and also allow the movements you are doing with your upper body and arms off the mat to be fully supported.
As I was sitting in my car this morning, I drove passed an elderly man meticulously removing dew from his car windows, his arm going systematically up and down. It made me think of an experience I had last winter as I was scraping ice off my car windows one early morning. While removing the ice, I could not help myself from smiling – actually getting a feeling of pure joy. I am right-handed, and the shoulder blade on this side of my body was simply moving smoothly up and down, gliding freely on top of my upper back ribs, no resistance whatsoever. The feeling was fantastic. It made me realise how much space there actually is in this region of the body. What also made the experience great was that I knew I had gotten stronger in the shoulder region through my yoga practice. However, the stronger muscles did in no way hinder the movement to be fluid. A mini-revelation 🙂
So, as colder weather sets in, I would advice you to continuing to moving your arms and shoulders, towards the front, to your sides, and also above your head, opening across the chest, and not letting the autumn or winter or darker days stop your shoulders from keeping fluid in their movements. Wishing you good luck!