Heart Opening Multi-Tasking

A couple of salient points:

One: Stretching the front of the shoulder as described almost certainly means the shoulder joint is extended (in a way that angles the arm back behind the torso). When the shoulder joint is extended, the latissimus dorsi is strengthening. Personally, I feel the most lat engagement when I clasp hands and move my clasped fingers away from my torso, probably because this is when my shoulders are in the most extended position (of these variations). However, a reverse prayer or opposite elbow better allows me to concentrate on the front-of-shoulder stretch. (This may well differ for other people, depending on individual skeletal anatomy and muscle tone.)

Two: Though the shoulder variations are demonstrated in tadasana, they’re applicable to a whole slew of other asanas, including:

From a physical perspective — and I’ve said this before — I spent a lot of life time folding forward: over the steering wheel, over desks to help students, over the computer, over the stove, over the sink. I don’t think any of those are inherently bad activities, but I can certainly see how, over time, I might have developed a physical imbalance. Heart-opening postures let me rebalance a little at a time.

From a mental and spiritual perspective, these arm variations remind me that heart-opening is about developing a softness of character. That doesn’t mean being a bleeding heart or a pushover, but it does mean the ability to hold compassion for others. I am coming to the end of another school year with freshmen; I need that compassion and that reminder.

And maybe a second glass of wine.


I'm here. I like stuff. Some other stuff, I like less.

Posted in asana, backbend, chakra work, core

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