Gomukhasana (Cow face pose) - This pose can be worked with a belt to facilitate the stretching. Pull down on the belt and push the back of the hand into the spine to cause the stretching muscles to contract. This will stimulate the Golgi Tendon Organ to initiate a ‘relaxation response’ and allow you to further the stretch. By increasing shoulder flexibility you will be able to further strengthen the joint in other poses, prevent injury and recover a lot faster than if you had a stiff shoulder. (Students with shoulder or inflammatory conditions should proceed with caution or avoid this pose as it may worsen their situation).
Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff pose) - slowly lowering into and out of this pose can teach the student muscle control and sensitivity. This pose involves building core strength and shoulder joint stability as it activates the pectoralis major, triceps, serratus anterior, rhomboids, glutes and abs.
Vasisthasana (Side plank) - This pose activates the intercostal, oblique and abdominal muscles to increase core strength, which contributes to shoulder stability. It also co-activates the infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis of the rotator cuff.
Ardha Pincha Mayurasana (Dolphin pose) - Opens the chest and shoulders for increased flexibility and co-activates the biceps and triceps, which help to stabilize the shoulder.
High plank - Much like Vasisthasana, this pose builds strength in the core muscles (abdominal, intercostal, pectoralis major) and shoulder joint muscles.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog) - Opens the chest and shoulders for increased flexibility. Draws in the scapula and engages the pectoralis major for shoulder stability.
As stated by Ray Long (orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Bandha Yoga), strengthening the core leads to strong shoulders. Strength is built by holding poses for an extended period of time and repetition. All of these poses need to be performed slowly and with regular practice to increase strength and flexibility over time for the best results.
By Alyssa McLeod
The Daily Bandha: Stabilizing Your Shoulders In Downward Dog. 2016. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.dailybandha.com/2015/11/stabilizing-your-shoulders-in-downward.html. [Accessed 18 August 2016].
The Daily Bandha: Shoulder Kinematics in Yoga, Part I. 2016.[ONLINE] Available at: http://www.dailybandha.com/2011/04/shoulder-kinematics-in-yoga.html. [Accessed 18 August 2016].
Ray Long, Chris Macivor. 2016. Gomukhasana for Stiff Shoulders. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.bandhayoga.com/keys_shoulder1.html. [Accessed 18 August 2016].