Trying to work on your arm balances and inversions? Strong, stable, sexy shoulders are key, so we’re focussing on poses that will build them up!
This week we are working on our shoulders with five simple poses that are sure to leaving you burning. If you do it right, you won’t be able to do your hair the next day! Shoulders is by far my favorite day (closely followed by leg day) both in the gym and on my mat.
The importance of shoulder stability and mobility cannot be stressed enough. If you’re anything like me, ladies, we use them the most when doing hair and makeup — you need a steady hand and shoulder for that! If you have kids, you build shoulder strength by picking them up and carrying all their stuff around. If you are in the gym or do a lot of heavy lifting at work, your shoulders assist every single upper body movement you do. With all that work your shoulders see, it’s crucial that you not only work them, but more importantly that you stretch them!
Flowing With The Shoulders
Remember, if at any time you need to rest, you can rest in Child’s Pose. Grab your mat, turn on some tunes and grab a set of blocks!
1. Adho Mukha Śvānāsana (Downward Facing Dog)
- Begin on all fours with your knees hip-width apart and your hands shoulder-width apart. Stack your hips over your knees and your shoulders over your wrists. Walk your hands a few inches in front of your shoulders. Curl your toes under, lift your hips, and straighten your legs.
- Once your body is in an inverted ‘V’, press down into your palms and all ten fingers to draw more energy into your lower body to help elevate your pelvis. Keep your arms straight and rotate your outer upper arms inward to broaden your back. Draw the front of your rib cage in and press your legs back. Extend your heels away from your toes and pull them toward the floor.
- Hold here for ten slow, deep breaths
Amp It Up: Add a few push-ups! Definitely a challenge and really works the shoulders even more. Try ten of them before moving on.
2. Utthita Chaturanga Dandāsana (Plank Pose)
- From Adho Mukha Svānāsana, bring your chest forward until your arms are perpendicular to the floor and your shoulders are stacked over your wrists. Firm your triceps and your shoulders blades down your back by pressing the ground away. Draw your navel to spine. Draw your tailbone towards your heels and firm your thighs. Lengthen from crown of the head to the heels and gaze at the floor.
- Hold here for ten slow, deep breaths
Amp It Up? Add some shoulder taps to bring in a bit more stability! Do ten taps, each shoulder tap counts as one rep.
3. Virabhadrāsana II (Warrior 2)
- If you have a pair of blocks, place them under your hands in Plank Pose. Bring one foot forward in between the hands, with the knee directly over the ankle. Spin your back heel down. Keeping the front knee bent lift your torso up to standing, while bring the blocks with you.
- Rotate your torso away from your front knee. Tuck the tailbone. Bring your arms up above your head, blocks in hand. Extend the arms out from your sides, palms facing up, holding the blocks. Gaze over your front hand.
- Hold for five breaths then switch to the other side.
4. Dolphin Pose
- From Virabhadrāsana II, bring your hands back down to either side of your foot. Slide the foot back to meet the other one, back to Plank Pose. Lower your forearms to the ground, shoulder-width apart with your palms facing down. Tuck your toes and lift your hips up and back like you would in Adho Mukha Svānāsana.
- Hold here for ten slow, deep breaths.
5. Dolphin Plank
- From Dolphin Pose, bring your chest forward until your arms are perpendicular to the floor and your shoulders are stacked over your elbows. Firm your triceps and your shoulders blades down your back by pressing the ground away. Draw your navel to spine. Draw your tailbone towards your heels and firm your thighs. Lengthen from crown of the head to the heels and gaze at the floor.
- Hold for ten deep breaths.
Amp It Up: Add some Up/Downs — yes, that is what they are called. No creativity there. Do ten up/downs, going all the way up and then down counts as one rep. Keep your hips as stable as possible as well.
If you have an arm balance or inversion practice, feel free to add in a few of those now. Your shoulders are warmed up but worked hard and they may be a little shaky, so please practice with care. Start off with a simple Bakāsana (Crow Pose) or Sirsāsana (Headstand) to test the shoulders out. From there you can try out any other arm balances or inversions.
Wrapping It Up
Letting your shoulders rest and have a little stretch in Balāsana (Child’s Pose), Uttana Shishosāna (Extended Puppy Dog Pose), Maricyāsana C (Sage Pose), and Gomukhāsana (Cow-Face Pose). These will be terrific to help open up the shoulders after all that work!
What did you think of this week’s routine? Are your arms feeling stronger? What else would you have added? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to check out my other articles in the series: sequences for legs, chest and triceps and biceps and back! Tune in next week for the abs sequence!