full wheel shoulder alignment elbows in or out

FULL WHEEL POSE

STOP HUGGING THE ELBOWS IN

SHOULDER ACTIONS FOR MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY

FULL WHEEL

SHOULDER FLEXIBILITY IN FULL WHEEL POSE

You may have noticed that Full Wheel Pose is quite challenging, and you might think the issue is your back, core, or shoulder strength. Sure, each of these plays a role, but not nearly as much as the simple technique of retracting the shoulder blades and widening the elbows. For whatever reason, there is a myth that the elbows need to be hugged in for safety. This is simply not true. Have you ever seen a weight lifter press a tremendous amount of weight above their head? If yes, then you know their elbows are not tucked in, and considering the amount of weight they are lifting, it’s pretty obvious that there is nothing wrong with this biomechanically. In my opinion, it’s not only okay to widen the elbows; it’s a much better physiological decision.

WHY DOES MY TEACHER ALWAYS SAY TO HUG THEM IN?

This cue is coming from the basic understanding that the shoulder joint is more stable when the arms are externally rotated. However, hugging the elbows in is overly stabilizing, which is why everyone struggles with mobility when the elbows are tucked in for Wheel Pose. Furthermore, if we take a closer look, hugging the elbows in will likely trigger your pectoral muscles to engage, not your rotator cuff. Rather than bore or lose you with the anatomical details, I will tell you how to find out for yourself by trying out the difference while sitting up.

CONTROLLED TEST WITH A STRAP

OLD WAY:

  1. Bring your arms in front like you’re going to do the Macarena, then bend your elbows, mimicking what most teachers have told you to do in full wheel.
  2. Loop a strap around both elbows to keep them in — this is often used in alignment-based classes.
  3. Without letting the elbows go wider than your shoulders,  raise your arms up, straightening your elbows while keeping them tucked in, and see how vertical your arms can get.

Most likely, you won’t be able to go too high up without effort. IF you are hypermobile in the shoulders, you may be able to; if Full Wheel is working the way you are doing it, then continue that way. However, if you feel pinching in your shoulders, watch the tutorial below.

NEW WAY:

  1. Widen your elbows out to the sides like you are making cactus arms.
  2. Reach your arms up to the sky like you are celebrating a victory.

You will likely notice that this felt more natural and relatively easy. That’s because it IS NATURAL to lift your arms this way. The best way to approach Full Wheel Pose for maximum flexibility in the shoulder girdle is to allow the elbows to be out.

Shoulder Revelation

The September 2021 Immersion includes a full-length class to Wild Thing Pose as well as 11 additional classes emphasizing shoulder techniques and biomechanics! In this package, you get twelve 75-minute yoga classes to help you gain maximum strength, flexibility, and range of motion of the shoulders. You will also learn how to release neck tension and reduce risk of shoulder and neck injuries.

If you want to feel better in your shoulders, this is THE immersion to practice!

SALE PRICE: $198.00 $138.00

DON’T HUG THE ELBOWS IN & ENJOY YOUR LOW BACK 

Amazingly enough, when you allow the shoulders to move properly, you will notice that you can shift your weight into your hands and out of your feet, and this will take the pressure off of the low back! This is because the backbend will now be dispersed throughout the whole spine instead of targeted straight into one or two vertebrae in your lumbar spine (typically L4 and L5 for most people).

EASIER SAID THAN DONE?

Ok ok ok, after that demo you might visually or intellectually get it, and perhaps you want to give this a try. Doing the shoulder actions while seated is far easier than trying it upside down and on your head. This is partially because our body can propriocept (know where it is in space) much more easily when right side up, simply because that’s how we exist most of the day. But your nervous system needs to learn where your bones are and how to activate your muscles when everything is flipped upside down. This is just the way it is; the only thing you can do about it is put yourself upside down MORE OFTEN, AND watch this video repetitively to stimulate your “mirror neurons,” which allow you to mimic something more easily through repetitive viewing.

To get these shoulder actions fully integrated into your practice, sign up for the Shoulder Revelation Immersion — 12 classes designed to help you develop mastery of movement within the shoulder girdle.

Thank you for reading and watching! I look forward to sharing more with you in an upcoming training or monthly immersion!

Co-written and edited with 300-hour Chromatic teacher, Donna Morin.

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Shoulder Revelation

The September 2021 Immersion includes a full-length class to Wild Thing Pose as well as 11 additional classes emphasizing shoulder techniques and biomechanics! In this package, you will get twelve 75-minute yoga classes to help you gain maximum strength, flexibility, and range of motion of the shoulders. You will also learn how to release neck tension and reduce risk of shoulder and neck injuries.

If you want to feel better in your shoulders, this is THE immersion to practice!

SALE PRICE: $198.00 $138.00

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yoga backbend techniques: 12 classes

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