"Yoga Journal" reports that shoulder injuries are common among practicing yogis. If shoulders are already weak and susceptible to injury, yoga postures need to be done with caution and care. Yoga poses should build strength in the shoulders without aggravating the injuries. Restorative and gentle yoga poses can be done to ease shoulder pain while protecting the joints as well. If you are experiencing intense pain, consult a physician.
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Until the pain eases, you may want to avoid any poses that bear weight on your shoulders, suggests "Yoga Journal." Pain in the shoulders occurs frequently in yoga due to misalignment. Shoulders thrive on mobility and should be able to move and rotate freely. Try practicing by widening your shoulders and keeping your upper torso strong during poses. Make sure your shoulders are in proper alignment. Practice this by standing in tadasana, or mountain pose. Have your feet hip width distance apart and roll your shoulder blades back and down toward the waist. Try to keep your shoulders in this position as you practice yoga.
Keep the Chest Open
"Yoga Journal" suggests taking your practice slowly and gently to avoid injury if you are experiencing shoulder pain. To protect the rotator cuff and shoulder area, work on opening the chest. If the chest drops instead of opening up during yoga poses, pain and injury can result. This causes the shoulders blades to tip forward and pinch certain muscles. The rotator cuff then becomes strained, and inflammation can occur. Chest opening poses help protect the shoulders. Try this by doing a standing forward bend. While standing, draw your arms back behind you and clasp your palms together. Forward fold over your body while keeping your hands clasped. Breathe deeply.
Building strength and opening the shoulder area will also help slowly alleviate the pain. Do this by beginning your practice on your hands and knees. Make sure your body is in proper alignment with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Keep your chest uplifted. Lift your right hand off the floor and raise your right arm to shoulder height in front of you. That means your left arm and shoulder will bear the weight and will subtly strengthen your shoulder. Hold for a few seconds and then lower your right arm. Repeat on the left side. Do not push yourself beyond your limits.
Hold your chest away from your shoulder joints while you practice other positions such as Downward Facing Dog, which is done by holding the body in an inverted "V" pose, and Plank pose, or an upward pushup. Alternate between these two postures to build strength. These postures help strengthen the rotator cuff, pectoralis major and triceps muscles. The shoulders are best protected when they are slightly externally rotated.