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
Learn how to use Friction to improve leg and arm strength.
Simple exercises with easy to follow instructions
Making difficult poses like Chaturanga Dandasana easier to learn.
Learn Your Body with
Frictional Arm and Leg Strength
PDF or Video
Improve Strength, Flexiblity, Body Awareness. Muscle control is at the heart of all of these.
You can practice scapular control with the arm movements of the dance of shiva. Scapular stabilization and control can be important when trying to bind in yoga poses like Marichyasana A.
Lifting up into eka pada bakasana from marichyasana A with tips on lifting up and balancing while transitioning from the binding yoga pose to the arm balance.
How to grab your hand behind your back. Tips for binding in Marichyasana A.
Grabbing a wrist behind your back. Tips for Binding in Marichyasana C.
Modified Marichyasana B is done with the other leg not in lotus. This pose can still be challenging to bind it, so some tips on how to bind with awareness.
Steps for working towards bound side angle so that you can bind a little more easily.
Steps for Binding in Seated Half Bound Lotus Pose as well as modifications if you can't bind, and actions you can do when you do bind.
Tips for working towards binding in Bound Twisting Side Angle Pose.
Balancing in side plank can be made easier to learn if you learn the necessary actions step-by-step with this sensational yoga poses yoga tutorial.
The standing forward bend yoga pose can be used to stretch or strengthen the hamstrings and glutes. It can also be used to stretch and strengthen the calves and as a balance exercise.
Yoga forward bends includes forwards bends for the hips and spine. Forward bends for the hips include both bent and straight straight positions.
Your iphone needs power in order to sense your touch. Proprioception needs muscle activity in order to sense your body.
Some simple exercises so that you can work towards the pistol squat gradually.
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.
This sequence of seated yoga poses includes lotus and virasana variations, janu sirsasana and marichyasana variations as well as more basic seated poses like bound angle, pigeon and seated forward bend.
These hip flexor stretches open up the fronts of the hips and can be used as a preparation for front to back splits. Bent knee hip stretches can be used to focus on rectus fermoris.
Strengthen your hands, your arms, glutes and hamstrings with these standing forward bend variations.
The small actions in this standing psoas stretch can be used to stretch both the upper and lower fibers of the psoas muscle.
Variations of the standing psoas stretch that use the same basic actions.