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Entries in shoulder opener (3)


Face yourself each day, rain or shine

open your heart (Natarajasana B)

My daily ashtanga yoga practice allows me to feel what it means to face myself each day, rain or shine.

I've always loved backbends. They feel euphoric. I don't hold tension in my lower or mid back.

discover where you hold tension

However, I have recently discovered the reason why some backbends bring up a lot of emotion for me and others not. I hold my tension in my shoulders. Certain weight-bearing positions on my shoulders causes a bit of what I hold to seep out, along with emotions as this occurs (or within the hour).

The shoulders are an extension of the Heart Chakra (Anahata Chakra). But, asanas with a really deep shoulder rotation first, such as this one (Natarajasana B) free that energy completely--or so it seems--because I am not only feeling the euphoria of a backbend but my shoulders are unlocked!

free yourself

Here in this state, I feel serious personal power and like nothing could ever harm me. 


~ Robin Ellen Lucas, MA


Shoulder opening and alignment is key in balancing postures

Image © Yoga Robin® (Scorpion)Using my new favorite yoga toy, the "Infinity strap" to keep my shoulders from flailing out too much (a little stretchy).

Arms should be parallel to each other. My shoulder rotation makes this a tough one. Also, in order to get my feet to my head, my cervical spine and lumbar spine both need to bend more. Balancing is easier on this pose with the head and feet offering the balancing weights.

Pincha Mayurasana is more challenging for me.

For both poses, shoulder alignment is important but for Pincha Mayurasana it's the foundation to also aligning the hips over the shoulders, tucking the rib cage in (not sticking out), which in turn elongates the legs upward. Then balancing is simple and comfortable (no nerve pinching in shoulders).

Of course, shoulder muscles are activated as these are strength poses, but if the bones are not aligned correctly, the right muscles are not able to fire, giving room for other muscles to overcompensate. This causes injury (especially with repetition), in particular to the rotator cuff—subscapularis, supraspinatus.



~ Robin Ellen Lucas, MA

Image © Yoga Robin® (Pincha Mayurasana)



Backbends are a sure thing for unleashing prana

Natarajasana B (Image © Yoga Robin®)This pose feels so good with the strap. The Ashtanga way is to hold the toes, no strap (and for me, this means that all of my energy goes toward not dropping the foot, or even getting it). My favorite Iyengar teacher instructs this one with a strap.

It is a wonderful shoulder opener (euphoric) and doing it this way I'm feeling the Prana in my shoulders, entire back, up and down legs. I'm even smiling. Using resistance against the strap (foot and shoulders higher up) feels even better. I forget I'm even balancing. My favorite backbend...

Backbends are a sure thing for unleashing all kinds of emotional holding. For me, it's a guarantee and always leaves me happier. Some people experience fear and sadness in backbends (and I'm also one of them) as these feelings hide inside a broken heart or cold heart that doesn't feel much...but can't help but rise to the surface in backbends. Getting the energy to express itself is a wonderful way to release it.


Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Image © Yoga Robin®)