Shoulder yoga includes any yoga pose where the shoulders are used to support some or all of the weight of the body. It also includes shoulder stretches and yoga arm positions that stretch or exercise the shoulders.
One of the best ways to begin a yoga shoulder program is to start with shoulder awareness exercises, particularly exercises that focus on learning to feel, control and stabilize the shoulder blades. These exercises can start with fairly relaxed movements of the shoulder blades without the arms bearing weight and then moving towards poses where the arms are bearing weight.
As part of the process of learning to feel the shoulder blades it can be helpful to learn the reference points or landmarks of the shoulder-blades, particularly ones that you can feel or palpitate with the other hand.
An important aspect of developing shoulder control can be that of learning to feel the ribcage and to separate movements of the ribcage from those of the shoulders and vice versa. This isn't the end goal but rather an intermediate step so that you have control and awareness of both body parts. They can then be used more effectively together.
One of my favorite exercises to practice isolating and then integrating shoulder and ribcage movements is table top yoga pose.
A simple pose where the shoulders can be exercised while laying on the back is bridge yoga pose. In this pose the shoulders can be pressed down into the earth to help lift the ribcage up away from the floor.
Shoulderstand and plow pose are similiar in this regard. In both poses you can focus on pressing the shoulder down into the floor to help lift the ribcage up off of the floor.
To develop better control of the scapulae I'd suggest practicing this action first with the hands unclasped. Once it is easy to do with hands un clasped, then experiment with clasped variations.
For shoulder flexibility it can be helpful to practice relaxed arm stretches where gravity provides the driving force. The focus in these can be on relaxing the targeted muscles, or on engaging to resist the stretch and then relaxing. Another type of shoulder stretch is to use muscle power, perhaps that of the opposite arm, to drive the stretch.
In all of these poses the elbows are straight and the shoulders can be used to push the ribcage away from the floor.
A slightly more complex yoga pose for the shoulders is chaturanga dandasana. It is more complicated to teach because the elbows are bent.
Yoga inversions are another type of yoga pose where the arms or shoulders bear some or all of the weight of the body.
In headstand the head can bear some body weight with the shoulders and elbows used for stability. In forearm stand and handstand the arms bear all of the weight of the body. In all actions shoulder awareness as well as strength can be useful. Awareness can be used to help do these poses with minimal effort while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the pose.
A further set of exercises to practice for shoulder awareness is arm rotations, particular of the upper arm with respect to the shoulder blade. These can be used as rotator cuff exercises.
Rotated arm positions may be used to help stabilize the shoulder and shoulder blade giving the muscles that attach the shoulder blade to the ribcage and spine a firm foundation from which to act on the ribcage and spine.
A movement practice that can be used to improve shoulder flexibility and control as well as arm rotation is the dance of shiva.
Yoga Shoulder Exercises and Stretches includes a systematic approach to shoulder awareness and flexibility
Make your yoga poses less wobbly with less effort. Grounding and centering are two techniques for creating stability in yoga poses.
Arm supported yoga poses can be used to strengthen the arms and shoulders. Includes plank, chaturanga dandasana, downward dog, dolphin pose, side plank, wheel, reverse plank, table top pose.
Rather than fighting through joint pain here is an overview of the approach that I've used to help alleviate hip pain, knee pain or shoulder joint pain while doing yoga poses.
Make balancing easier. Use pressure sensitivity to feel your center of gravity.
A yoga approach to how to do squats including how to stay balanced, and avoiding knee or hip pain even while going all the way down.
Camel Yoga Pose or ustrasana is a kneeling pose that can be used to stretch the hip flexors. One key action that may help in getting your pelvis forwards more is pushing your hands forwards, either against your feet or against the floor.
The transverse abdominis can have an affect on sacroiliac joint stability as well as stability of the lumbar spine and the T12/L1 junction.
Fluid tensegrity joint anatomy looks at the tendency of the body to maintain space within the joints. The question is, how is this space maintained?
Why improve body awareness? So that you can use your body more effectively and fix problems yourself when they arise.
How is tensegrity maintained at the joints even as the body adopts non-tensegrity postures or movements?
Why being present is the oppositve of thinking and how to utilize both modes effecively.
Pigeon yoga pose variations include lifting the front hip and resting it on the floor. Learn how to activate the front hip in either variation for better hip control and more effective stretching.
Creating tensegrity in yoga poses. What is tensegrity, why should we aim to achieve it when doing yoga or any other activity where mindfullness is required?
Obturator externus anatomy for yoga teachers. If you have hip pain in forward bends and your hip feels weak, obturator externus may be the culprit.
Yoga stretches for tight hamstrings. Learn to feel when your legs are active and when they are relaxed so that you can gradually stretch tight hamstrings.
An experienced yogi's yoga pose has a sense of bigness. How do you as a beginner add bigness to your yoga poses?
Basic yoga sequence for flexibility. Includes hip, hamstring, quad stretches and neck stretches and recovery exercises.
Back strengthening yoga poses can be used to strengthen the back of the body including hamstrings, glutes and both the lower and upper back.
A look at getting your feet off of the wall and balancing in handstand plus tips for greater arm stability.
Yoga pose sequences for flexibility and strength. These sequences can be used for improving hip and shoulder flexibility and strength.