shouldersWe are such a stressed out culture. No matter what stage of life you are in, there is plenty of stress and we love to carry that stress in our shoulders. I always wonder how people would react if I walked up behind them and touched their shoulders to help them realize how tight and tense their shoulders are. When you relax your shoulders, there is a calming effect on the whole body. But we usually don’t realize how tense our shoulders are until someone points it out to us.

I have been incorporating my mantra, balancing effort and ease into my yoga teaching for years. Shoulders are one of the biggest indicators when people do not have any ease in their body. The main two points I try to teach people during class is to breathe and to relax their shoulders. The funny thing is, that once you learn to relax your shoulders, you can much more easily connect to full and deep breathing.

The shoulders are also an important joint to keep mobile. Stretching our shoulders and scapula is very helpful for taking stress and pain out of the upper and middle back, and for opening the front of our body so we can maintain good posture when gravity starts fighting with us as we age.

It’s so important to stay connected to your shoulders in Yoga. Many people who have pushed a lot of weights at the gym realize they have not stretched out and crave stretching their shoulders. Most of us do not realize how much we need to stretch our shoulders daily.

I challenge everyone to take a moment each day and look in the mirror to see if you tense your shoulders and don’t even know it. If you work at a desk, check in several times a day to see if you need to first drop your shoulders away from your ears and second, drop your shoulder blades down your back. Then see if you are taking full and complete breaths. Try these 2 fundamentals throughout your day and stay aware. I think it will help you greatly reduce stress and feel better. Then take these fundamentals and apply them to your fitness routine. You will find you can isolate muscles easier and maximize your fitness routine with less injury. So remember….RELAX YOUR SHOULDERS!

Combine this post with my Fundamental #4 video on shoulders in my 5 Fundamental video series. Watch the video wherever you are to make sure you’re keeping your shoulders relaxed and breathing throughout your day. I am confident this will not only reduce stress and back pain, but is also a great addition to your current work out routine. Have questions? Post to my AskVal forum!