Your shoulders don’t really exist

Yesterday I had a student come to me for a one to one lesson. “What’s up?”, I asked. She rubbed the side of her neck and said she had neck pain and stiff shoulders. She seemed resigned, it was just the way it was. She has a busy London life and not much chance to relax.

When I asked moved her left arm upwards, it got half way and then got progressively stiffer as it went up. It felt like I was lifting a heavy weight.

I worked with her with my hands, and asked her to see what it was like to have arms that were connected to her tail and to the back of her head. There was an immediate difference in the quality of her organisation. It was like something softened and filled in along the whole of her torso. Her arm came up much a little more easily. Did that fix the problem? Not completely, we still had to work on sequencing. More on this next week.

Now, what are your shoulders? Where do they begin and where do they end? This might seem like an odd question, but there is considerable variety in what people imagine their shoulders do and where they are on your body.

When you think about this, place one of your hands on what you think are your shoulders. Is it the space between the side of your neck and top of your upper arm?

Here’s the strange thing about shoulders: they don’t really exist!

Huh? Well, anatomically, shoulders are just a part of your arm structure. It’s like having a long road with one part called Green Lanes and the other part called Yellow Road. They’re the same road, they just happen to have different names.

Your arms start at the base of your collar bones and go to your finger tips. Your shoulder blades in your back are a way for the muscles in your torso that connect your arms to your body to slide over your ribs.

How does that change things for you? Does it make them feel different? Take a moment and do some simple movements switching between the two ideas. One that your shoulders are completely separate from your arms. The other where your shoulders are just a convenient term for part of your arm structure.

Take this into your life, every so often, tune into yourself and try out the thought that your shoulders are just part of your arm structure.

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© Kevin Saunders, Yogaground 2017

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