This first image shows what I often see in class when we attempt this pose – students catching their hands- just because they can.
I admit it is tempting to catch- but it can be bad for us. Can you see how the left shoulder blade is jutting out? That means the left shoulder is inwardly rotating- and the left side of the chest collapsing. Can you see how the right shoulder is jutting outwards? This is unhealthy for the shoulder joint.
So I ask my students to think: what are your arms doing in yoga?
Look in a mirror if you don’t know! As you can’t see behind your own back easily, you can look at the front of the shoulders to see how open the chest can be.
As I described in my blog from June 2014 continuing to work like this can cause shoulder and neck pain. Some of us can catch simply because we have long arms- no special skills required!
Unfortunately if a shoulder blade is jutting out backwards it means that part of the chest is collapsing in the front.
That does us no good and stops us from breathing properly.
So what can we do instead? Have a look at the second image- attempting to get both shoulder blades in- by using a belt. It’s still not perfect- but if we continue to work carefully in this way we will gradually get closer and closer to catching- but in a healthier way. The shape of the lifted arm’s shoulder is also more compact. Working like this eventually it will be possible to catch and have a fully expanded chest at the same time! So instead of ‘going through the motions’ please think what are your arms doing in yoga?