My shoulder is killing me, I’ve tried a million different things to remedy the situation, but nothing is helping. Are there poses I can do for my shoulder?
The short answer = no
There is a BUT in there – where in life would we be without buts?….
Dieting for spot reduction doesn’t work – when you diet, you lose weight throughout your entire body.
Spot yoga, or working with a specific body part isn’t going to get you what you ultimately want, which is less pain/more mobility etc. What I’ve learned about pain from my own experience is that being in pain takes you into what one teacher I study with calls ‘Animal Realm”. Instinctively we want to curl up in a ball until it all goes away.
If we are in that Animal Realm of comfort and security, we want to know how and why you are in pain, and how to get out of pain. I’ll just address one aspect = stand-point of the physical body - what can you do in order to get changes in what is going on with your shoulder? Your spine is the key, the whole spine is where there are tensions held that are affecting your shoulder, and you may even have other aches and pains going on too. The news is, you can’t get permanent changes in the upper spine, until you have an open/released tension starting at the tailbone. In other words, it’s all connected.
Starting at the tailbone – that’s right – your tail is tucked and tight, which affects EVERYTHING! More details on that in another article – so tailbone tucked, then the rest of the spinal column has to compensate & your shoulders end up being up by your ears because your rib cage is compressed.
A personal story about pain:
At one point, I was in so much pain I couldn’t do any yoga asana, was even hard to do a breathing practice. Hard not to focus on the pain & just wish it away. Anyway, my leg and hip were so messed up I had to use 2 hands to lift my left leg out of the car, and to go up steps I had to do one step at a time. I actually had no idea how it came on; there wasn’t a fall or anything specific that I did to “cause” this issue. I tried a bunch of methods for treatment – chiropractic, allopathic, acupuncture and even had an appointment for an OD scheduled (very, very pricey…)
By doing all the appointments I’d done, I’d ruled out any structural damage and so at this point you have to take some sort of action to figure out what will work for you. I’m sure you’ve already done the background work, ruling out any medical issue before trying alternatives.
All clear on medical issues - my friend and fellow yoga teacher Belle suggested I contact our teacher (Rama Berch/Nirmalananda) to see if she had any suggestions. She swiftly answered my email, asked a question or two and responded with a couple suggestions:
1. Keep taking the anti-inflams prescribed by the MD
2. Do Overlap Healing Embodyment Yoga Therapy sessions with Belle – meaning doing several sessions in a row, then backing off slowly. (Embodyment sessions are a form of Yoga Therapy - in very basic terms Embodyment Therapy is passive for the client, a hands on healing modality that releases tension held in the muscles connected to the tailbone & sacrum).
I did 2 sessions with Belle and by the 3rd session (3 days in a row) I was about 70/80% better and could do my practice. It was basically the magic bullet.
You may think the point of this article is to do Embodyment Overlap Healing, which is really quite effective, but that’s not the point. I needed to ask for help; because I was in so much pain I couldn’t find my way.
It’s comforting to know that asking for help is not only good for you, it is also a wonderful opportunity for those who care for you to show you they want to support you. It’s really a connection, a way to show love beyond words – a beautiful expression of serving for the sake of serving. You can even say that the divine is serving the divine.
So what about my damned shoulder – jeez…
Ok, Ok, I’m getting to that. I’ll give you a few things you can do to get a taste of what Svaroopa Yoga is. Which is basically softening into yoga poses that are designed to reach into specific parts of your body.
Let’s say you aren’t coming to class, you don’t have a home practice & there isn’t a Svaroopa teacher in your area. OR, you just want to test drive this idea of softening into angles…
A few things you can try:
1. Get a chair (or use a couch) – get down on the floor and put your lower legs on the chair. This will lengthen your back & a good deal of your spine will be resting on the floor. Then, if your chin is higher than your forehead – put a folded blanket under the back of your head, propping enough so that your chin and forehead are level. Hands rest on the floor palms up, or bend your elbows & place hands on either side of your belly button. This simple technique will bring a little weight into your sacrum, and may help relieve the pain.
2. Close your eyes and just hang out for a few minutes – scan your body, start at your feet and move up slowly, just noticing your whole body. In a class setting you would do this as I guide you through your body = guided awareness. Listen to your body, softening the places that you can.
3. If you feel tension in certain places, send the breath there and say ‘soften’. Keep sending the breath, natural/easy breathing, not forced – easy and soft.
4. Stay on the floor for at least 5 or 10 minutes & just let yourself enjoy doing the simple task of noticing your body.
Your shoulder is sending you a message – your body is asking you to listen. Asking for help is a beautiful thing, that’s what we are here for – to help each other get through this thing called life (Prince).
I recently had a client with a shoulder issue who also had numbness in her hand. After doing a Private Instruction session with her, teaching her 3 poses to do at home, she no longer had numbness in her hand. This wasn’t because she did anything for her hand, she was learning how to release tension in the muscles connected to her spine.
The release happens not as a result of stretching, pulling, heroic efforts to perform Down Dog or Plank pose, but by simply softening into supported angles of yoga poses and letting the tension unravel.
Ready to unravel and decompress? Ready to try a Whole Body approach?