365 Challenge Day 215 – Yoga: Shoulders

23 Jan

In the yoga teacher training my teachers spent a lot of time talking about “integration” of the joints, specifically the hips and the shoulders.

They said not to overextend the joints.  This immediately caught my attention because I am prone to overextending my joints and getting injured.  They had us lay on the floor and spend about 30 minutes pulling and pushing our arms and legs in and out of the shoulder and hip joints to feel the difference.

I found this very confusing because if yoga is known for anything at all, it is known for stretching.  How do you stretch the arms and shoulders while pulling them in at the same time?  Seems counter-intuitive!  From what I understand, you want to stretch the muscles, but not the ligaments and the joints.  The way my teacher explained it, by overstretching the ligaments at some point they stop bouncing back, get loose, and then the muscles cramp up and lock in to protect the joint.

I’m still not totally clear on what “integrating” the shoulders looks and feels like.  But it may be as simple as keeping the shoulders down as opposed to letting them rise up into your ears.  This seems so obvious that I think they must be referring to something more subtle.  But maybe that’s it.  When we raise our hands above our heads, we don’t want our shoulders raising up towards our ears at the same time.  So our shoulders are pulling down and in at the same time that our arms are pulling up.  I’ve been doing this since I was eight years old and had my first ballet class!  But I do see a lot of hunched up shoulders around me in class.

Stay tuned for more on this one : )

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