Yoga Practice

Getting in touch with my shoulder girdle


I have a very weak shoulder girdle that is hindering my ability to really be stable in inversions of all sorts – handstand, pincha mayurasana, full wheel (urdhva dhanurasana), etc. So when I saw a workshop titled, “Spread your Wings, Freedom through Integration of the Shoulder Girdle with Shanti”, I had to go. My goal of getting into pincha mayurasana this year desperately needed this.

When I hear the word girdle, I immediately think of old-timey undergarments to cinch and squeeze lady flesh before Spanx came along. Like so:

The whole point of a girdle is to tighten and support by pulling everything inward. And that’s kind of what the shoulder girdle is. It’s not just the shoulder area but all the muscles along the back and core that help support the entire upper body.

Shanti gave us a nice little anatomy lesson to kick off the workshop. I had no idea the shoulder blade (scapula) is the same piece of bone as the trapezius acromion process (pointy part at the top corner connecting to your arm). And by having the part that juts out toward the trapezius acromion process all in one, the range of motion of the arm is actually hindered. To get arms up fully requires some manipulation to get around the bone or some arching of the back.

This was big news to me. I thought I wasn’t as flexible in the shoulder as other people are, but it’s the way our skeletons are designed! I’m perfectly normal!

After that, we worked a lot on finding strength in downward facing dog and chaturanga. I will admit that I sometimes am never sure if I’m doing down dog right. It’s one of those postures that you do so often that you stop even thinking about it. Most of us who have been practicing a while probably sink in too far. Bringing the front of the rib cage back in and using more of the back and shoulder muscles to support it makes a huge difference.

Once we got really comfortable adjusting plank, chaturanga and downward dog, the real fun began. We used a strap around our arms above the elbows a lot to remind us to pull the muscle inward to support. It was a little weird trying to get into handstand with our elbows held at that distance, but it also gave me a lot more strength than when I was doing it without the strap. I got some great pointers on pincha mayurasana to keep my shoulders aligned with my elbows; I think I’ve been leaning too far forward and end up doing a wobbly noodle thing when my legs go up.

Back bending has changed for me because of this workshop too. I think too much about my legs and my feet and forget to lead with my chest. It’s more about back strength than bending. *Mind blown*

It was such a fun workshop and so helpful to break down the postures and the anatomy of the poses. I’m excited to keep working on my inversions with all the new information I got. One step closer to achieving pincha mayurasana in 2013!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Yung says

    Unless I’m misunderstanding you, it sounds like you were told the trapezius is a bone? It is a muscle that does indeed insert into parts of the scapula… And I forgot that the the bony parts at the top are also a part of the scapula. Thanks for the anatomy review. Sounds like an interesting workshop!

    • Terri says

      oops. i meant the pointy part of the bone – the acromion process (totally just googled it). fact check fail!!!

    • Terri says

      this is what i get for not having my notebook with me to actually write stuff down. i was going off of my memory, and i think i like the word “trapezius” a lot. it stuck with me. it’s fun to say. haha.

Comments are closed.