Our pose of the month for August is shoulderstand, but perhaps not as you know it…
The Structural Yoga Therapy variation tries to reduce the extreme degree of neck flexion you might associate with shoulderstand, thereby protecting the nuchal ligament (which connects the skull to the upper spine and helps you ‘bounce back’ from neck flexion).
Our aim this month is to use the triceps and shoulders to support the weight of the body instead of pouring it onto the fragile cervical spine, and the first step of this process is to open up the chest and shoulders in Bridge.
Common misalignment: It’s that classic issue of the shoulders hunching forward and the spine forming a habitual C-shape.
The Fix: Find an external rotation of the arm bones right from the shoulder joint, so that the palms are facing up towards the ceiling. Press through the feet to lift the hips and lengthen the tail bone away to create space in the low back. Then knit the shoulder blades together and slide them in the direction of the hips. Begin ‘walking’ your triceps towards one another to open up the chest and front body, and maybe interlace your fingers if that’s comfortable.
Your weight should now be resting on the backs of your arms and shoulders. The spine itself should be in neutral thanks to a tunnel of space between the shoulder blades, and the front of your throat should feel free and unrestricted.