I have said it before, and I say it again – shoulderstand is truly a thing of beauty. With the right combination of strength and flexibility, it can be elegance and grace personified. It is iconic and SO photogenic – a social media ‘go-to’ pose that all yogi’s want to be able to do from the moment they discover yoga. Nicknamed the ‘Queen of poses’ – shoulderstand is considered to be cooling; stimulates the calming (parasympathetic) side of the autonomic nervous system; and is reputed to assist in resolving a wide range of medical problems. It demands significant upper body and core strength plus beautifully open chest and shoulders – all wrapped up in a healthy dose of confidence in being upside down. So easy when you are a child – so much harder as an adult! (more…)
The gravity-defying arm balances of an advanced yogi are truly magical )and the envy of many less experienced yogi’s). There is no getting around the fact that the flexibility and strength needed to perform pincha mayurāsana (feathered peacock) or tittibhāsana (firefly) are way beyond most of us. But that does not mean that arm balances are off the yoga menu. There is a wonderful selection of accessible arm balances that strengthen the arms and shoulders and are truly perfect as stepping stones on any yogi’s arm balance journey. Here are a few of my absolute favourites. (more…)
In recent months I have explored the wonders of the wrist and the secrets of strong shoulders. Each has a huge influence on the way we practice yoga poses and both, rightly, deserved the individual attention. But, what of the bits of the arm between? Just a couple of bones, a few muscles and a hinge in the middle – let’s take a look and discover the sophistication of this undervalued anatomical part. (more…)
As a novice yogi, I clearly remember the frustration of poor upper body strength. My shoulders were so weak that chaturaṅga daṇḍāsana resembled a breakdancing caterpillar and iconic poses like bakāsana (crow) and handstands were an impossible dream. But I was not alone. Many people lack strength in their shoulders when they first come to yoga. Modern lifestyle no longer routinely includes the heavy lifting and hard labour that kept our ancestors naturally strong in the arm.
This does not mean that we can’t all aspire to super strong shoulders. Muscles have the capacity to become stronger throughout life. Even in older age, muscles will build with increased loading. So, how can we do this safely and effectively? (more…)
Week after week, British TV audiences were left staring in wonder at their TV screens as they watched 59-year-old Debbie McGee perform dance moves that would flummox most 20 year olds in last season’s Strictly Come Dancing. (more…)