Shoulder Connections

3 Postures for Increased Mobility

shoulder stability


To increase mobility in our shoulders, we must first understand how they move, so we become more connected with their function and how they inform a variety of yoga postures. The exploration with intentional techniques is the key to gaining access to these postures. 

In regard to heart-opening postures, “shoulder connections” are also about understanding how the retraction of the shoulder blades affects the chest, rib cage, abdomen, and spine. In today’s video, Matt demonstrates the shoulder actions needed to access 3-Part Cobra, Upward Dog with blocks, and Wild Thing. The way that the retraction of the shoulder blades is applied in these postures will not only create the desired heart-opening shape but also strengthen the muscles necessary for healthy shoulder mobility.

chromatic yoga 15 hour immersion



    •  3 livestream workshops and replays
    • Nondogmatic and effective alignment
    • Improve low-back health
    • Shoulder mobility + heart openers
    • Shoulder strength + arm balances
    • Inversions, binds, neck & shoulder release
    • 6 hours of continued education
    • Gain strength and stability
    • Increase range of motion, flexibility, and mobility
    • Step-by-step guidance: Everyone can follow and participate
    • Educationally infused: Learn while you embody
    • Livestream optional; all workshops available as livestreams (see dates below) and as on-demand replays for life
    • Automatically receive access to the replays immediately after the livestream


    The sequence of actions in this posture teaches us the ability to authentically stretch the front body and strengthen the back body. There’s a greater requirement for us to recruit the muscles in the upper body due to the decreased reliance on the hands to hold us up (if we allow it). In the video, Matt starts the sequence of lifting the upper body off the floor by first using the leverage of the hands; in order to reduce compression in the lower back, he sends the rib cage forward, then pulls the belly in and up. Here’s the key though: It’s the activation of the rear deltoids, the retraction of the shoulder blades, and the action of pulling the chest through the shoulders that creates the “bowing of the spine” required in all backbends. 




    If we pay attention to the smaller, more intricate details within the application of techniques in a posture, the benefits become more profound. First, Matt demonstrates the simple action of turning the fingers outward on the blocks. Lifting the shoulders up and back now becomes more accessible, which encourages the action of external rotation in the arms, promoting retraction of the scapulae and allowing for more opportunity to contract and strengthen the rear deltoids, rhomboids, lower fibers of the trapezius muscles, and the latissimi dorsi. The final action is to push the hands down into the blocks to access increased spinal extension along with greater heart opening.  

    200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification



    • Deepen your yoga practice
    • Build confidence speaking in front of groups in person and online
    • Learn foundational class structures and templates
    • Learn techniques for a wide range of yoga postures
    • Get certified and highly qualified to teach yoga
    • Yoga Alliance Globally Recognized Certification Program
    • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1


    In Wild Thing, there are 3 shoulder actions that help create more expansion and mobility in the shoulders. First, we lift the bottom shoulder up, move it back (retract), and then bring the bottom wing tip of the shoulder blade around. These actions send the chest forward and up. The posture is different, but the same actions apply here as in 3-Part Cobra. In the full class, Matt reminds us that it can be easy to lose the integrity of the positioning of the shoulder once we start to lift up into the pose, but if we continue to connect with the sensation of muscle contraction between the shoulder blades, there’s more success in maintaining the shoulder position. Ideally, the chest is above the height of the shoulder. In order to gain shoulder mobility, we must build strength and endurance in the muscles associated with and connected to the shoulders. Stretching alone will not have the same effect.

    300 hour teacher training online



    Master your skill set as a teacher through refined techniques, anatomy, biomechanics, sequencing, philosophy, meditation techniques, theming, yoga business, and much more!

    • Get 500 hour certified
    • Learn anatomy, biomechanics, asana techniques
    • Expand your teaching skills
    • Masterful sequencing and verbal delivery
    • Learn meditation and breathwork techniques
    • Transformative tools: theming, dharma talks, satsang
    • SPRING ENROLLMENT OPEN! Training begins June 1


    Shoulder mobility means having the ability to move the joint through the full range of motion. We can see why this is beneficial when it comes to heart openers: In order to find expansion, we need to be able to move the shoulder joint freely and safely. Strengthening also means better stability. In postures like Wild Thing, where we’re balancing on one arm, stability and strength are a must for a solid foundation.  

    Exploring the shoulder actions multiple times within a practice helps us record the biomechanics in our bodies. This is the reasoning behind the layering of actions and postures in a Chromatic Yoga class.

    In the 2nd week of Matt’s current 3-part workshop, Shoulder Mastery, he delves into shoulder strength for arm balances. Register and get access to this class and to last week’s class about the shoulders and heart openers.

    See you on the mat!

    The 200 Hr. Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

    The 300 Hr. Advanced Teacher Training: Click Here to See the Next Start Date

    Article by Trish Curling

    Videos Extracted From: Shoulder Mastery


    Submit a Comment

    lotus pose online yoga classes


    • Accessible, exciting, and easy to learn
    • Anatomy and biomechanics for yoga
    • Appropriate for both teachers and students
    • Learn joint alignment vs pose alignment
    • Demystify yoga poses and transitions
    • Release aches and pains
    • Learn how to avoid common injuries
    • Caters to all levels with modifications and props
    • 20 hours Continued Education Credits with Yoga Alliance
    • 20 hours toward Chromatic Yoga Certification and 300 Hour
    • Lifetime access

    Continue Learning

    Double Stag Handstand

    Double Stag Handstand

    Double Stag HandstandbalanceDOUBLE STAG HANDSTAND Cultivating confidence is a non-negotiable when it comes to implementing a handstand practice. If handstands seem insurmountable even to consider, don’t fret; there might be an easier option. Easier? Really? Yes!  Ok,...

    read more
    Accelerated Handstand Development

    Accelerated Handstand Development

    Accelerated Handstand DevelopmentinversionACCELERATED HANDSTAND DEVELOPMENT Accelerating the process of achieving a goal comes from consistent practice, but it also depends heavily on the information and knowledge we’ve acquired.   Whether a handstand is part of our...

    read more
    Tweak The Twists In Your Yoga Practice

    Tweak The Twists In Your Yoga Practice

    Tweak the Twists in Your Yoga PracticepadmasanaTWEAK THE TWISTS IN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE The definition of "tweak" here is the following: to improve (a mechanism or system) by making fine adjustments to it. This perfectly describes a major part of what’s involved in the...

    read more
    Lotus Foundations

    Lotus Foundations

    Lotus FoundationspadmasanaLOTUS FOUNDATIONS Lotus Pose requires a healthy amount of hip flexibility. For some, it comes easy. Reasons for this might be that the person is hypermobile in the hips, knees, and ankles and/or that many months or years of effort have been...

    read more
    Hips and Eka Pada Galavasana

    Hips and Eka Pada Galavasana

    Hips and Eka Pada Galavasanaflying pigeonHIPS AND EKA PADA GALAVASANA Depending on where we are in our asana practice journey, arm balances may feel a little overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to start. Instead of thinking about the final destination, we...

    read more
    Hip Flexor Health For Better Movement

    Hip Flexor Health For Better Movement

    Hip Flexor Health for Better MovementstretchHIP FLEXOR HEALTH FOR BETTER MOVEMENT Healthy hip flexor muscles are associated with both stretch and strength. Although we’re going to focus more heavily on strength in this article, always note that both strength and...

    read more


    When You Subscribe, You Will Get Instant Access to

    • the Technique Pack: 15 yoga pose breakdowns
    • exclusive online course discounts
    • exclusive blogs and videos
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

    Thank you! check your email for your free training and be sure to put in your VIP or drag emails from me from your spam or "promotions" folder to your Inbox folder. This is where you will receive your FREE videos!

    Pin It on Pinterest

    Share This!

    Hey. thank you for reading. If this is helpful please share it!