Yoga teaches me that arm balances improve shoulder alignment

Thoracic outlet syndrome.  TMJ.  Frozen shoulder.  Tingling fingers.  All these conditions, and many more, have to do with the shoulder joint.  Yoga teaches me that using arm balances helps bring the shoulder joint into alignment. There is a group of muscles known as the rotator cuff.  Put simply, these muscles stabilise the shoulder.  They are usually pretty weak.  Modern life doesn’t encourage us to develop them.  Most people can’t even detect the rotator cuff muscles, when prompted. Arm balances can be symmetric or asymmetric postures.  Symmetric postures, like plank or downward dog, or handstand are more easily maintained because it’s easier to balance.  Beware bad habits, like rotating the shoulders upwards and inwards, hyperextending the shoulder and/or elbow joints.  The feeling I seek is like rolling the arms down and inwards from beneath the armpits.  If you aren’t feeling that, you are not engaging the rotator cuff.  Yoga teaches me to ignore the rotator cuff at my peril.  I will only get neck ache and head ache. Asymmetric arm balances are harder, but as with all asymmetric postures, they teach me about imbalances between the two hemispheres of my body.  Yoga teaches me to ask why I balance better on my right arm than my left?  Why do I rotate more on the left than the right?  Why does one shoulder click and the other lock or hurt.  I watch my imbalances, keep practising, and over time they correct.  Or they are less pronounced. Yoga teaches me to love my body anyway, just cuz. My osteopath adjusts my diaphragm, pericardium and hyoid and reminds me that seeking help is good.  When the yoga gets deep, things shift around.  Professionals are there to help keep us aligned and to reflect back at us what we are projecting.  I tend to overwork spinal extensions.  My osteopath reminds me that this tends to put my T10-T12 out of alignment.  So, I hold back.  Yoga teaches me to listen to the opinions of others, to let go of my egotistical all-knowing and to surrender. Yoga suggests to me that when I finally align my shoulders, my heart will feel freer.  All I want to do in this world is learn to love.  My armour comes off piece by piece.  Yoga teaches me not to fear my nakedness.

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