Draw your shoulder blades down and back? during Warrior 1? Please no!

I have battled shoulder pain for over two years. After receiving ALL types of therapy, I was finally diagnosed with rotator cuff tendinitis. So it is safe to say that I am just a LITTLE bit sensitive when it comes to using our shoulders during my yoga classes.

Many, many teachers cue students to “draw your shoulder blades down and back” when lifting arms overhead (say, in Warrior 1). I offered this cue myself when I first began teaching. HOWEVER, this cue goes against the body’s natural scapulohumeral rhythm! This can lead to rotator cuff injuries — yikes! The LAST thing I want to do is set my students up for potential injuries. So, I now ask students to allow their shoulder blades to wrap around the rib cage and lift UP when arms come overhead. Think about when you go to reach for something from a high shelf: what do your shoulder blades do? They reach! You don’t jam them down and back, right? Well, let’s bring that same — natural — movement to our shoulders during our yoga practices.

You can learn more below from Dr. Ariele Foster, a physical therapist and yoga instructor who I respect.