Submitted by Helen Mikuska, E-RYT500, IYTA, SOYA, WAYT, YACEP, in Calgary, AB
With the shoulder joint’s high mobility, there is a decrease in stability.  Primary shoulder injuries are rotator cuff injury, over-use syndrome & tendonitis.  The shoulder girdle acts as a stabilizer to help us carry weight in our arms and also with the support of your spine.  Alignment of the shoulder girdle is vital not only for the health of your shoulder joints, but also for the health of your spine.  Your shoulders are open when the shoulder girdle supports the natural curve of your spine.  The shoulder muscles are conditioned for great mobility and these muscles must be balanced on all sides of the shoulder joint for optimum stability.  Every time we lift our arms, many shoulder muscles are activated and because of the structure of the shoulder girdle, misalignment of the shoulders leads to misuse and abuse of our shoulders.  It is beneficial to learn specific asanas or exercises to improve strength & range of motion. Here is a sample of one of the exercises to help prevent shoulder injury. 
position-1Standing Wooden Dowel Shoulder Warm-up [Internal Rotation]Note:  Great for those who work on the computer or who use their hands for fine mechanical work.
Stand with feet hip-width apart.  Hold a dowel behind back with a wide grip, with palms facing forward.  Inhale & raise the dowel overhead, behind you.
position-2Exhale & bring the dowel down the front body, in front of thighs. The wrists are still internally rotated – notice a profound stretch in the forearms.  The shoulders here are internally rotated and the forearms get a really intense twist which they don’t normally get to experience.  Grip very firmly with the pinky fingers on the dowel.
modification-1Modification #1:  If you cannot lift the dowel overhead from behind you, then prepare as if coming into the 90 degree forward fold in hands-to-feet pose (Padahastasana / Uttanasana), with feet wider apart. Raise the dowel overhead from behind you, then allowing gravity to take the arms forward towards the floor. Feel the stretch in forearms.  Then come back up to a standing position.
Modification #2: If first modification is still not possible, remain standing & hold the dowel in front of you. You will perform the exercise twice, with each hand individually. Grip the dowel with your right hand in the overhand grip position (palm facing towards the floor). With your left hand, internally rotate the left shoulder so the left palm faces upwards towards the ceiling. Now slide the left palm under the dowel to grip from the underside of it. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Release, switch position of the hands and repeat on the other side. 
Interested in more? Helen is leading a “Yoga for Shoulders” workshop on Sunday, November 27th, 1:00-5:00 p.m at Harmony Yoga Pilates Studio in Calgary.  $50.00 (incl. gst). To register please contact or phone (403) 809-1402.