Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Therapeutic / Restorative Yoga Help

Can Restorative Yoga help me with my shoulder issues?

Question: I have damaged nerves in my left scapula and a frozen left shoulder, and because of the imbalance I am getting pain in my right shoulder also. Could you suggest a restorative pose that would gently stretch my shoulders out?

Answer: Sometimes in class I offer a pose based on the therapeutic work of Susi Hately Aldous (see a link to her Therapeutic Shoulders and Hips book below). We have firm foam strips at the studio but you can make do with a rolled up mat, a tightly rolled towel, or even a swim noodle.

Here's what you do: Roll up your mat (towel) tightly. Lay it lengthwise on the floor behind you and then lay down on it. The bottom of the mat/roll should be at about T7 or T8. If you don't know what I mean by this, here is how to tell. Place your finger tips on your breast bone then slide them down to where your body becomes soft just below the breast bone. The rolled up mat should be just opposite that soft spot where your finger tips are resting and the top should be sticking straight up from the back of your head. Keep one hand on the soft spot just below the breast bone and feel for the mat placement behind you with your other hand.

Now, you can just lay there if you want (this is what we do in Restorative class) or you can do some movement with your shoulders (this is what we do in Hatha class). Raising the arms to point at the ceiling (thumbtips touch so the arms move at the same rate), lifting the shoulders towards the ceiling and then letting them settle back towards the floor so they hug the mat can help relieve tension in the back and shoulders. Repeat 5-10 times slowly, moving with the breath.

Don't stay too long on the rolled up mat. If you are really frozen up it might be painful. Or in my case - I'm too mobile and I ended up getting misaligned (couple of ribs) by staying too long. Also, if you are uncomfortable in the low back or sacrum, place a folded blanket under your bum and keep your knees bent.

Check out this link if you are interested in exploring Therapeutic Yoga for the shoulders or hips: Therapeutic Yoga for the Shoulders and Hips

Check out Laying on the Foam Strip to view images and other ideas for relieving shoulder pain.