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The potential range of movement in our arms and shoulders is beautifully represented in the vast array of classical yoga poses. The complex nature of the shoulder region can however, make it vulnerable to problems. It is not uncommon for students to present to a yoga class complaining of pain, instability, or restriction of movement in their shoulders. The iyengar method has a comprehensive array of poses and adaptations that may be helpful for students experiencing difficulties with their shoulders. This article aims to gather a range of these poses and condense them into a sequence that can easily be practiced at home. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of therapeutic shoulder poses. Priority is given to practical poses and positions that can be readily adapted to a home practice , without need for specialised equipment.
The distance between your knees is roughly the width of your rib cage. Ensure that your pelvis can rest directly onto your heels.
If this is not possible then place a rolled or folded blanket between your hips and heels. Have the front of the chair facing you, and position the chair roughly a yoga block length away from your knees. Lean forwards and rest your chin onto the seat of the chair. Reach and hold the back frame of the chair with both hands. Start to walk your hands up the frame of the chair.
Work to your capacity, but know that it is possible to eventually bring your hands all the way to the top of the chair with your hands touching. Grip the top of the chair firmly with your fingers.
Maintaining this firm hand grip, bring your hips back and down towards your heels.
To avoid dipping the lower back, draw your navel back towards your spine. This will ensure that the emphasis of the pose is experienced more in your shoulder region. Adho Mukha Virasana with chair, arms back This pose can directly proceed from the previous pose.
It can feel spacious and comfortable for your neck so long as your upper thoracic spine is contained inwards and your trapezius muscle where your neck and upper back join is kept downwards. Keeping your chin on the seat of the chair, bring your arms behind your back and interlock your fingers.
Roll your shoulders back and draw you arms down and away from your neck. Consciously firm your triceps muscles to make your elbows more actively straight. Pressing your shoulder blades firmly into your back, start to raise your arms up and back. As your arms raise upwards move your thoracic spine inwards and trapezius muscle downwards. Adho Mukha Virasana hands on cross bar of chair The shoulder opening benefits of this pose will come best if you maintain a balanced lower back position.
Without hardening the abdominal region, check that your navel lifts slightly towards the spine. Keep your tailbone drawing back and down. Again, this pose can proceed directly from the previous pose without the need for standing up. Move the chair further away from your knees. Place your hands on the cross bar between the front legs of the chair. Ensure that the base of your index finger can press firmly into the bar.
Spread your fingers wide apart and press your hands down to lift your elbows up. Without dropping your elbows turn your outer armpits downwards so that your shoulders spread out and away from your neck. Avoid dropping your head. Instead keep your ears aligned with your upper arms. This will ensure that your upper chest remains more open. Keeping your hips firmly anchored to your heels, apply both a downward and outward pressure with your hands onto the chair. Parsva Adho Mukha Virasana The chair remains in the same position as it was for the previous pose.
A twisting action is now added to the torso. This enables you to further open your shoulders and lengthen the latissimus muscles on the sides of the rib cage.
Bring your right hand off the cross bar of the chair and place this hand alongside your right knee. Press this hand firmly to the floor with the elbow of this arm pointing up to the ceiling. Slide your left hand across to the right side of the chair. Ensure that you are maintaining a straight line from your left hand back to your left hip socket. To maintain this straight line, move your left side ribs towards your spine, and your right side ribs away from your spine. Turn your abdomen from the left towards the right side.
Press your left hand down; lift your left elbow up; and turn your left outer armpit towards the floor. Sirsasana Preparation elbows on chair This pose will potentially highlight asymmetry in your shoulders, whilst giving you the means to bring about a more even balance.
Rather than pushing through the more restricted side, restrain the more flexible side so that your front ribs are parallel with the floor beneath.
Whilst kneeling in front of your chair, place your elbows on the seat of the chair with your hands in a prayer like position. Ensure that your elbows are shoulder width distance apart. Position your elbows near the edge of the seat. Your elbows need to be near the edge but securely on the seat so as to guard against them slipping.
Enter the pose with your forehead resting on the seat of the chair.
Position your knees underneath your hips. Bringing your knees closer to the chair will challenge your shoulders less, having your knees further away from the chair will challenge your shoulders more. Assess whether you are able to come more deeply into the pose. If so, bring your forehead off the seat of the chair and let it hang down between your arms.
Roll your outer armpits towards the floor so as to broaden your shoulder sockets outwards from your spine. Ensure that your lower back remains straight. To assist with this, allow your navel to lift upwards towards your spine; move your tailbone away from your spine; move your pubic bone slightly towards your navel.
Sirsasana Preparation block between hands This pose will allows you to develop and slightly intensify the shoulder opening from the previous pose. Keeping your elbows exactly as they were for the previous pose, hold a lengthwise block between the palms of your hands. Ensure that your index finger bases press firmly into the side edges of the block.
Spread your fingers and thumbs as wide apart as possible. Have your fingers pointing straight upwards, with your forearms perpendicular to the floor. As your index finger bases press into the block, rotate your outer armpits down towards the floor. Keeping your outer armpits turned downwards, start to bend your elbows so that the block comes back and down towards your shoulder blades. Chair Ustrasana This kneeling backbend is modified with the inclusion of a chair to emphasise its shoulder opening potential.
Come to kneeling facing away from the chair. Your knees are hip width distance apart, the tops of your feet are flat to the floor. Ensure that your feet have come back through the chair so that your buttocks lightly touch the seat of the chair.
Reach back with your hands and place them flat onto the seat of the chair. Press your shins down; move your hips forwards and lift your chest upwards. Bring your hands to the back frame of the chair. Grip the frame of the chair with your thumbs pointing downwards.
As you now incrementally walk your hands higher up the chair frame, lift your side ribs and lift your chest. Work to your capacity but know that it is potentially possible to bring both hands together at the very top of the chair frame. As your chest and side ribs continue to lift, move your shoulder blades inwards and draw your trapezius muscle downwards.
Urdhva Hastasana with belt around arms The use of a belt around your arms in this pose will help your arms to work in unison. This may be especially beneficial for anyone recovering from a shoulder injury. It allows the more able arm to support the less able arm. Pressing both arms out and into the belt will also help to cut through shoulder restriction, and optimise upward lift through your spine and chest. Sit in either of the kneeling asanas vajarasana or virasana. Adjust the buckle of your belt so that it keeps your arms shoulder width apart when the loop of the belt is placed around your forearms.
Position the belt half way between your wrists and your elbows. Once the belt is in position, raise your arms up to shoulder height. Your arms will now be parallel with the floor. Press firmly out and into the belt with both arms.
Keep your elbows straight; move your back ribs in; lift your front ribs up; and keep your shoulders down.
Keep pressing both arms firmly out and into the belt as you now start to raise your arms above your head to a vertical position. Prioritise keeping your elbows straight. This may mean that people with stiffer shoulders allow their arms to angle forwards.
Otherwise the arms are brought back in line with your ears. Turn the whole length of each arm so that your palms are parallel to one another. Extend consciously into each of the fingertips. Simultaneously lift your belt, armpit and sternum bone.
Allow the trapezius muscle in your upper back to release away from your neck.
Urdhva Namaskarasana This arm action is used here from a kneeling position, but is also commonly combined with an upright standing posture. The same arm position and techniques are used in standing poses such as vrksasana and virabhadrasana I. Raise your arms vertically upwards to urhva hastasana. Ensure that your elbows are straight, with your wrists apart shoulder width distance, and your palms directly facing one another. Bring your upper arms back in line with your ears.
Move your chest forwards, soften your navel backwards and release your tailbone downwards. Lift your side ribs and armpits along with your arms.
Release your trapezius muscle away from your neck. Maintaining the lift in your chest, start to bring your hands together.
Bring your hands together without your elbows bending. For stiffer shoulders it may be necessary to cross your thumbs to generate sufficient leverage to keep the elbows straight. Ultimately it will be possible to have the elbows straight without crossing your thumbs. Bring the little finger bases firmly together. Simultaneously lift your hands and the centreline of your chest.
Keep your throat and jaw muscles soft. Breathe evenly. Parvatasana This arm variation with the fingers interlocked will assist people with restricted mobility in their shoulders and upper back to fully straighten their elbows.
Give priority to this action of straightening of your elbows, and over time progressively work to bring your arms to a vertical position without your elbows bending. Raise your arms to shoulder height. Bring the palms of your hands together and interlock your fingers. Ensure that your interlock comes right to the bases of your fingers. Turn your hands so that the palms of your hands face away from you with your thumbs pointing in a downward direction.
Straighten your elbows, without your shoulders lifting. Keeping your elbows straight, move your back ribs in and lift your front ribs up.
Start to raise your arms up and above your head. As your arms raise, keep your elbows straight, and release your trapezius away from your neck. Extensive research points to the subject of yoga that is proposed to be an effective solution. A carefully adapted set of yoga poses can help reduce pain and improve functional the ability to walk and move. Among different variations of yoga, we will review the beneficial effects on pain treatment through Iyengar yoga.
Iyengar yoga is a form of Hatha yoga that puts the focus on detail, precision and alignment in the performance of posture asana and breath control pranayama. The development of strength stamina , mobility and stability is gained through the asanas. Iyengar yoga is considered to be therapeutic, quasi medical yoga and more effective for many treatments pain syndromes, cardiovascular diseases, pulmonary and respiratory diseases, distress, depression, hormonal and endocrine disorders, gynecological, gastroenterological diseases, arthritis, etc.
The Iyengar method uses supportive props and strictly designed sequences of postures to address an individual's medical issues.
The general concept regarding a sequence of yoga poses predetermines that poses should not irritate the nervous system; there should be strict order of practicing given that some asanas produce heat, stimulate, energize, activate, others produce coolness, abate, relax, etc. Sequencing, timing and intricacy of poses in Iyengar method provide a framework to structure the progression and content of therapy.
Spinal pain usually low back and neck pain is the condition for which often complementary therapies are being used.
Although yoga may have the potential to ameliorate both chronic and acute pain in general, the mechanisms by which this is effected remain hypothetical. Duke, D. Much has been studied through randomized control trials RCT regarding yoga in general, but only few studies have been dedicated so far to the therapeutic benefits of Iyengar yoga in particular.
The purpose of this systematic review is to present the evidence of the effectiveness of Iyengar yoga method as a therapy for treating back and neck pain based on findings of RCT. All of the studies included in the systematic review come from this list. Study selection and data items After identifying studies from electronic databases, the bibliographies of the review articles in the field were also searched and reviewed to identify additional relevant studies.
Hard copies of included studies - RCT assessing effectiveness of Iyengar yoga intervention on back or neck pain in adult population with preexisiting back or neck pain compared with the control group - were read and analyzed in full. Data collection process For each study, the data were extracted: Trial design, randomization, blinding, drop-out rate, and inclusion and exclusion criteria, details of treatment method and comparison group, main outcome measures, main findings.
Summary measures analyses As far as summary measure, this review was limited to the studies looking at the mean change of pain after intervention and follow-up for each outcome compared with baseline, which was defined as the primary outcome measure and was used to assess the differences between the yoga and control groups.
Risk of bias within studies The assessment of bias risks has been performed based on the Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing risk of bias. The summary template of criteria for judging risk of bias, including selection bias random allocation and allocation concealment , performance bias, detection bias, attrition bias, reporting, and other possible bias was used.