As part of the Bikram dialogue, we are constantly told to keep our shoulders away from our ears. By bringing awareness to the position of the shoulders and adjusting them for optimal position, you will find comfort that may have previously been difficult to achieve. Many of us hold tension in the shoulders, often without realizing it. Poor posture and stress are common contributors to shoulder tension. The result: chronic tightening of the shoulders and a forward slump. (Check your posture while driving or typing on the computer and you’ll recognize the forward slump.)
Proper shoulder position is often overlooked during our practice due
to the focus required to simply get into each posture and then maintain
it. But if you take a moment to adjust the shoulders once in each pose,
your level of comfort will increase. Keep in mind this
one simple adjustment: Broadening the shoulders. Almost every asana can
benefit from broadening the shoulders.
To broaden the shoulders, feel them move away from each other in an
outward direction, and feel the heart open as the chest lifts slightly.
Then, move the shoulders down away from the ears. Important to note, be
sure you do not pinch the shoulders back. The movement of the shoulders
away from each other is the best way to ensure the shoulders remain
To effectively relax your shoulders, you need to focus on your
shoulder blades (scapula) sliding down your back. The muscle that
anchors the blades is the bottom part of the trapezius muscle. You also want to feel your collar bone (clavicle) widening and
the scapula sliding slightly toward one another. The end effect is an
open chest with relaxed shoulders and neck. Nothing should feel pinched
or gripped. Imagine the scapula is a slippery bar of soap sliding up and
down the back.
From the very first breathing exercise Pranayama, as your elbows come up, your shoulders should be down. In every single posture from there on out, your shoulders should be down and away from your ears. Introduce this movement to each pose in your practice, and you will find a new sense of ease you didn’t realize you had. Enjoy!