Shoulders Are For Mobility, Not Stability

Susan Polacheck
Shoulders Are For Mobility, Not Stability

Last night I was doing a round of Sun Salutations and immediately felt a little sad that my arthritis in my elbows has weakened my Chaturanga. I was struggling. I used to be so proud of my Chaturanga and thought I had really strong arms. So I set out on a mission to find out how to modify this pose so I can still salute the sun and not feel like an old lady.

Then I remembered reading this on YogaJournal: “Shoulders are made for mobility not stability.” That’s it!

Now that I think about it, I was putting WAY too much weight on my upper body during the transition from Plank to Chaturanga. No wonder my elbows were screaming. It’s like my arthritis is an alarm system to say, “Hey! too much weight here!” Thanks, arthritis.

Learning Proper Weight Distribution

We shouldn’t be putting all of our weight on our arms and shoulders. Well, I shouldn’t be, anyway.

The article I read explained that while transitioning into Chaturanga, “push back through your legs and feet.”

Hot damn! Just like down dog! Equal weight distribution.

What was I thinking hurting my precious body like that in the past? I wanted so bad to be strong and to impress myself (and anyone watching). I put all this hurt on me, and then got mad at myself for not being able to do it anymore! That’s not self-love!

SELF-LOVE is so important!

Nurturing and caring for our bodies is so important. I was actually mad at my shoulders and elbows for not working as well as they used to. The fact is, I used to heap abuse on them, and was disappointed when they didn’t want to do it anymore. I seemed to have forgotten that the beauty of Yoga is that we can MODIFY!

Yoga can be yours; you do not need to do anyone else’s yoga. I still have strong arms, but now I am protecting my shoulders and elbows. My first love will always be Gentle Yoga, so now, when I do Yoga, I keep in mind the following:

  • I say to myself: Equal Weight Distribution
  • I listen to my elbows and all my other joints when they “talk” to me
  • I keep a slight bend in my elbows when I raise my arms to the sky
  • I make my own Sun Salutations, and I modify the poses for to work for MY body
  • I research online to make sure I am safe, when in doubt about a pose
  • I run my joints through their range of motion each day, with regular arm circles, ankle rotations, wrist rotations, taking great care and keeping micro-bends in all my joints
  • Think Fluidity – Not Rigidity
  • My movements are a slow gentle flow.

I’ve learned not to push my body too far, and to put proper care of my joints first. What are you doing to keep your joints healthy while you practice?