A simple flow to build shoulder strength

A simple flow to build shoulder strength

by Terra Nicolle & Suse Silva | 10/01/2017

Our shoulders are an intricate part of our body. Not only do we have the shoulder joint we also have the scapula, clavicle, humerus, rotator cuff, and the supporting muscles trapezius, pectoralis and deltoids that make up our shoulder region.  Our shoulders are used in almost every yoga pose. In Triangle we have them reach out from our sides, in Tree we reach them over head, they bear weight in Dolphin and support our torso in Shoulder Stand. Therefore we must work towards building strong shoulders so we can flow seamlessly from foundational poses like Downward Dog into more advanced poses like Headstand.


Spinal Balance Flow is a great way to incrementally build strength in our shoulders while also working our core and back muscles.

Let’s start by building a strong foundation, coming onto Hands and Knees we will actively press the floor away from us making sure that we are lifting our ribcage up toward the ceiling to avoid sagging weight down into your shoulder joints. Staying here focusing on our breath and bring awareness to the strength in our shoulders. Once we feel stable and strong in our shoulders we can begin to engage our uddiyana bandha for core stability, continuing to breathe and noticing to the sensations that we feel now. Using ‘fists for wrists’ is always a great option for protecting the wrist joint in this pose as well.


When/if we are readying to add on we can choose to lift one arm up reaching straight ahead. This will add more weight onto the supporting arm and shoulder. Taking a moment to notice the sensations that we feel here with a couple of breaths then switching sides and repeating. As we flow let’s continue to check in with our shoulders, making sure that we are still actively pressing the floor away from us and lifting our ribcage up towards the ceiling, keeping our core engaged.


When/if this feels good we can add a little more weight to our shoulders by extending the opposite leg and alternating as we flow with our breath. Inhaling to reach forward extending our arm while extending the opposite leg straight back and exhaling to switch sides. 

We recommend that when building shoulder strength to start slowly. This thought can be applied to every asana and vinyasa that we practice. This is also especially important when working with weak rotator cuff muscles or injuries. As we progress practicing the YogaFit Essence, Feeling, Breathing, Listening to our Bodies, Letting go of Judgement, Competition and Expectations and Staying in the Present Moment, will remind us to take care of ourselves both mentally and physically. Just remember: "slow and steady wins the race."


Join us for an Anatomy and Alignment Training to learn more functional anatomy that you can apply to your personal practice and teaching.

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