Building Shoulder Strength for Yoga Inversions and Arm Balances

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Building Shoulder Strength For Yoga Stability

You may have seen all the cool headstands and handstands poses that experienced yogis post photos of all over the web and wonder how you can do that as well? You may also be thinking to yourself, there is no dang way you are going to be able to hold your body above itself with what strength your shoulders may currently have.

The key to these types of poses is going to be grounding and shoulder strength and I am here to tell you all about how you can boost your shoulders muscle mass while also getting in some mat time in other ways that go hand in hand. Building up the strength I needed for these poses took me a lot of time because at first I simply did not have the discipline to push myself and accept myself even if I didn’t get it just yet.

Instead, I had the mindset that my shoulders just could. Not. Do. It! In turn, filling my mind with the idea that I could not do it, boy was I wrong!

1. Why Is Shoulder Strength When Practicing Yoga Important Anyway?

It is important to make sure your shoulders are well adjusted before attempting these poses because you can cause damage to your muscles, in some cases, it could take months to hear. Always remember to be careful and mindful of sprains and falls. In order to avoid falling and spraining anything use your surroundings. If you have a comfy and safe place near a wall, bed, dresser, whatever your weapon of choice go ahead and use it! I promise it is not cheating.

Shoulder strength is important both in and outside of your yoga practice. The main reason being your shoulder not only is the most flexible joint in the body but also one of the most susceptible to injury. This is due to the many ligaments, muscles and tendons.

If you think about it how often do you use your shoulders in a day? Passing dinner, lifting this and probably that too, stretching, playing sports….doing yoga! The list can go on and on. So don’t you think it’s time to start taking care of them?

2. Best Yoga Poses And Exercises for Shoulder Strength

Three of my favourite poses to work with when I was beginning my journey were Dolphin Pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana), Planks (Phalakasana) and Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana).

Dolphin Push-Ups are one of my favourite ways to break a sweat! So You know what a plank is and if you look below you can see an idea of what dolphin pose looks like as well. And once you have a grasp on that part learning to do these pushups is easy as pie!

You begin in a comfortable Dolphin Pose and slowly and carefully lower your face towards the front of your hands while lowering your hips to lay flat like a table, or as flat as you are comfortable, similar to a plank position and then slowly raise back up into your Dolphin Pose. This puts a lot of focus on the joints in your shoulder and helps target your deltoids, pectorals, triceps, and biceps.

Try incorporating planks into your daily practice as well!  I like to hold a 15-30 second plank about 5 times depending on my mood and comfort level on whatever given day. I suggest starting with 3 reps of 15-second holds, as planks can be very demanding and take a lot of energy out of you and you definitely don’t want to overwork yourself or your body.

The last pose I have to share with you is the Puppy Pose, also known as the Heart-Melting Pose. This pose works well near the end of your practice to help wrap up your time on the mat and squeeze in one more shoulder loving variation. This pose helps to relax the muscles around your spine and shoulders while also exercising the muscles and tendons surrounding them.

Dolphin and Puppy Pose

3. It’s Time for The Weights!

Lifting weights is a great and proven way to build strength in any part of the body, including your shoulders guys! I know it may not be the first thing that you want to sign up for but trust me…you will thank me later. I would suggest starting all of the below with weights no heavier than 4.536 kg or 10 lbs.

One helpful weight routine is doing 3 reps of 15-20 dumbbell lateral raises. You can do these in a standing position. Start by folding the weights at your side and raise them until they are perpendicular to your body, lower, repeat. It doesn’t take long with these to begin to feel the burn, especially if you are a beginner.

And lastly plank dumbbell shoulder raise. These are so easy to incorporate into what we have already learned…yep those planks guys. Keep the weights close by when practising and incorporate them near the last end of your planking.

For plank dumbbell raises you can begin in plank position, weights in hands and ready to go and raise one arm at a time in front of your body, keeping your arm as straight as possible, lower…and you guessed it! Repeat!

Who wouldn’t want to be able to hold themselves upside down while also forming a better and deeper connection to your inner self and your body with all of its capabilities? Now you have some tools and tips to get you started on the journey to learning all that you can do with the amazing practice of yoga.

And one more tip before you go… Don’t be afraid of protein-rich foods!


If you like this article, continue exploring our articles on yoga and mental health, or start your yoga journey with our beginner guide below.

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