Side Angle Pose

Shoulder Fix at the Wall

upward rotation

SIDE ANGLE POSE

Stop for a moment and think about how many times you lift your arms overhead in any given asana practice. There are plenty of opportunities, aren’t there? Side Angle Pose is a perfect example.  

Also think about how this action is an everyday occurrence off of your yoga mat. It doesn’t even have to be in another movement practice, or maybe reaching up to grab something out of a cupboard. It could simply be a natural bodily instinct when you feel like you need a little stretch after sitting at your work desk for most of the day. An action like this can be so easily taken for granted. Lifting your arms up over your head without pain is a privilege for so many, and it can be quite frustrating when you want to engage in such a “simple” movement/action but have difficulty doing so. The same thing rings true when you consider a foundational posture like Side Angle Pose. This pose seems  “innocent” enough but may not be so simple when there is pain that keeps you from lifting your top arm overhead.

Unfortunately, pain from this action is commonly rooted in the myth that it is better to draw your shoulders away from your ears even when your arms are overhead. This is often communicated in yoga classes, but let’s bust this myth with some anatomy of the shoulder.

SHOULDER MOBILITY

Access Your Active Range of Motions

  • Increase strength and flexibility
  • Decrease risk of injury
  • Release shoulder tension
  • Learn anatomy and biomechanics
  • Access a wider range of postures
  • Stabilize the rotator cuff muscles
  • Learn binds, heart openers, and arm balances
  • 12 all-levels, 75-minute online classes
  • Lifetime unlimited access to all

SHOULDER ANATOMY

The acromion process is almost like a little bone that sticks out and is essentially the front part of the scapula. If you were to palpate and travel along the “spine of the scapula” (on the upper border of the scapula) and follow that along towards the top of the shoulder, you would feel a small flat surface underneath your fingers.

Underneath the scapula is the supraspinatus (a rotator cuff muscle), which exists underneath this acromioclavicular joint (AC joint). Within this space, you’ll also find soft tissue called the bursa. Bursae are like little liquid-filled sacs that help minimize friction between the moving parts of the joints throughout your body. Underneath the “shelf” of the AC joint, you’ll find the subacromial bursa and the subdeltoid bursa.  

The action of pulling your shoulders down while trying to lift your arms up may cause compression, pinching the soft tissues. This can lead to issues like bursitis (inflammation of the bursa), tendonitis, or, in some more extreme scenarios, the tearing of the supraspinatus. When these types of issues arise, they create what’s often referred to as shoulder impingement: “Patients with shoulder impingement syndrome suffer from painful entrapment of soft tissue whenever they elevate the arm.” In order to avoid this entrapment, Matt explains that it’s imperative that we learn how to upwardly rotate the shoulder blades.  

Garving C, Jakob S, Bauer I, Nadjar R, Brunner UH. Impingement Syndrome of the Shoulder. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2017 Nov 10;114(45):765-776. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2017.0765. PMID: 29202926; PMCID: PMC5729225.

WATCH THE VIDEO: SIDE ANGLE POSE: SHOULDER FIX AT THE WALL

SHOULDER IMPINGEMENT

Once you understand the mechanics, it’s easier to understand why shoulder impingement may start to present itself in Side Angle Pose and other yoga postures where your arms go past shoulder height.  

In the following study, we learn that shoulder impingement is both common and can be more complex:

“Shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal complaint in orthopedic practice, and impingement syndrome is one of the more common underlying diagnoses. On the pathophysiological level, it can have various functional, degenerative, and mechanical causes. The impingement hypothesis assumes a pathophysiological mechanism in which different structures of the shoulder joint come into mechanical conflict. The goal of treatment is to restore pain-free and powerful movement of the shoulder joint.”

Garving C, Jakob S, Bauer I, Nadjar R, Brunner UH. Impingement Syndrome of the Shoulder. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2017 Nov 10;114(45):765-776. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2017.0765. PMID: 29202926; PMCID: PMC5729225.

Asana practice does not replace treatment where necessary, but you can be proactive in trying to avoid shoulder impingement by moving with more intention and understanding. An asana practice may also serve as support to medical treatment.

So how can you move with more intention and understanding in Side Angle Pose?

200 Hour Online Teacher Training Certification

200 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET CERTIFIED & DEEPEN YOUR YOGA PRACTICE

  • 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

MOVE WITH INTENTION

Part of the intention in Side Angle Pose and other postures that require the action of lifting your arms overhead is to protect the subacromial space underneath the acromion process. You can reduce collision and obstruction by accentuating the movement of the angle of the joint. This happens by lifting the collar bone up and tilting the scapulae upward. As your arm goes up, the angle of the glenohumeral joint changes because the bottom tip of the scapula rotates up and forward. This change in the articulation of the joint helps reduce or possibly remove any pinching in the area, thus preventing pain.

When your arms go up, there are a number of muscle co-activations that are taking place to facilitate the bones’ movement (i.e., collar bone and scapulae). As the supraspinatus engages, it (hopefully) lifts the clavicle. The serratus anterior helps to pull the shoulder blade forward, and the co-activation of the lower and upper fibers of the trapezius will help with the rotation of the scapulae. In order to maintain the subacromial space, your shoulders need to lift up towards your ears. Setting yourself up at a wall for Side Angle Pose assists in the deeper understanding of the anatomy and biomechanics of the posture.

300 hour teacher training online

300 HOUR ONLINE TEACHER TRAINING

GET 500 HOUR CERTIFIED AS A MASTER TEACHER

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

SIDE ANGLE SHOULDER FIX AT THE WALL

(right foot forward)

In the video, you’ll see how Matt uses the wall to deepen the sensation of engagement/activation of muscles. A wall in Side Angle Pose is a great prop that reminds you to reach not only through your hand but also through the shoulder blade.

Here are the steps:

  1. Set up your mat perpendicular to a wall
  2. With your right toes facing the wall, place your right forearm on your thigh, with groins back
  3. Hand is by your side like in Tadasana 
  4. Externally rotate the upper arm bone (will retract scapula)
  5. Reach down and away (point the finger to emphasize the reach)
  6. As the arm comes up, make sure that outer line of the scapula is reaching; get your shoulder to touch your ear. In this way, you’ll find that you have a greater range of motion
  7. Touch the wall with your fingertips and push into the wall with the hand 
  8. Turn chest underneath. If your armpit goes forward here, suck the armpit back as you push

This is where a progression may be possible: The right forearm might leave the thigh, and you can place your hand next to the pinky side of your foot. If this is the case, your head may lower, creating more space between your shoulder and your ear. It is important to continue reaching through your hand and pulling your armpit back. 

It’s these seemingly tiny actions that create a huge impact on the experience in your body. Building in this kinesthetic awareness can help you to reduce the occurrence of injury and help you increase your range of motion in the shoulders. Shoulder Mobility starts Saturday November 5th.

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

Video Extracted From: Anatomy In Motion

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

UPCOMING TEACHER TRAININGS

NEXT TRAINING BEGINS FEBRUARY 2024 ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN!
NEXT TRAINING BEGINS FEBRUARY 2024 ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN!

Continue Learning

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion Pose

Steps To Scorpion PosevrschikasanaSCORPION POSE Exhilarating, stimulating, and enlivening are a few words we can use to describe Scorpion pose.  We might also use words like grounding, or even relaxing (which may initially be thought of as a strange descriptor), but...

read more
Heart Opening Education

Heart Opening Education

Heart-Opening EducationbackbendHEART-OPENING EDUCATION There is a great deal to learn with regard to heart-opening postures. Of course, negotiating the execution and being aware of the anatomy involved in various heart-opening poses are some of the initial...

read more
Pranayama

Pranayama

PranayamabreathworkPRANAYAMA Pranayama helps us to more deeply connect to the energy that runs through us. This can be done via a variety of breathwork practices. It’s important to understand that the breath is the physical layer through which we can access prana...

read more
Hip Opening Without Knee Pain

Hip Opening Without Knee Pain

Hip Opening Without Knee Painhip mobilityHIP OPENING WITHOUT KNEE PAIN "Hip opening” in a yoga class just sounds glorious if we feel confined or constricted in this area of the body and our intention is to transform this experience. The term may not sound glorious,...

read more
Strengthen Your Ankles

Strengthen Your Ankles

Strengthen Your Anklesfoot healthSTRENGTHEN YOUR ANKLES Our feet are the foundation of our bodies. Placing great emphasis on creating ankle stability and mobility during our asana practice should be obvious; unfortunately, this is not always the case. Maintaining a...

read more
Yoga Props & Your Practice

Yoga Props & Your Practice

Yoga Props and Your PracticealignmentYOGA PROPS AND YOUR PRACTICE When it comes to incorporating yoga props into our yoga practice, we can take 1 of 2 paths. We either subscribe to the notion that if we use props, we are somehow “less capable” than others in the...

read more

THE FREE TECHNIQUE PACK

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 matt@theyogimatt.com 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!

Shares