Easing the Burden you Shoulder: The Yoga Tune Up® Shoulder Series

By Tara Kachroo, Certified Yoga Tune Up® Instructor

Many of you know that shoulder and neck pain (and the tension headaches that they lead to) can be debilitating. But even if you aren’t suffering pain, the effects of poor posture can be insidious.  

You might be familiar with the TED talk in which the scientist Amy Cuddy discusses the link between physical posture and emotional state.  Her conclusion was that assuming a “power posture” (for example, upright, chest thrusted out or arms raised), can have a significant and positive impact on behavior and state of mind. Even just two minutes can result in better results in a stressful job interview. Click here for a link to this video.

But what if posture is restricted by pain? Or the ability to assume a power posture is limited by range of movement in one’s shoulders?

If one’s body is permanently in a defensive or hunched position from years spent at a desk or writing a PhD Thesis, will this affect the ability to confidently ask for a raise? Or present the results of a Thesis during the Defense? Poor posture does not just wear at your body; it wears at your mind.

The Yoga Tune Up® Shoulder Series running at Queen Street Yoga on Sundays April 3rd, 10th, and 17th will offer an education on postural dysfunctions that create shoulder pain and limit range.  It will cover how to treat and correct these dysfunctions with self-massage using the grippy, pliable Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls; precise stretching, and corrective exercises.  This shoulder series is about empowerment through education. One of the past participants wrote that she was “amazed at how much [she] learned about [her] own body from the workshop series”. Another participant said “I have significant degenerative disc disease and working with Tara has offered me huge breakthroughs in self-treatment. I feel anyone could benefit from this work, especially those working in an office setting.”

One of the many things we explore in the first session are the pain referral patterns from the trapezius and how to perform a self-massage for this area. If you have a set of original size Yoga Tune Up® balls at home you can try this technique at home:

Take the two balls out of their tote.  Laying on your back with your knees bent, place them one each into the ridge of muscle at the top of your shoulder on either side of your neck.

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Elevate your hips to increase the pressure into the balls. If you’d like, place a folded blanket or yoga block underneath your bum so you don’t have to hold yourself up. Sustain the compression while breathing deeply for at least a few breathes, and up to a few minutes. The sensation may be intense, but it should stay in the range of tolerable discomfort.

Roll the balls up and down an inch or two, back and forth repeatedly, along the mass of upper fibers of the trapezius.  You can use your rooted feet, pushing and pulling, to create this motion.  

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Continue to increase or vary the pressure by lifting your arms towards your ears, or slowly waving them side to side.  If you’d like, try these techniques in a few other spots up to an inch further out or down.  Limit the length of the self-massage to no more than 8 minutes.

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Tara Kachroo is a certified Yoga Tune Up® and Roll Model instructor with eight years of yoga teaching experience. Her anatomical knowledge, keen eye for alignment, and hands-on assists encourage each student to gain deeper levels of self knowledge and self care. Read more at tarakachrooyoga.ca.

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