36: Shoulder IQ: What, Why & How

Our shoulders are something of an underdog, but just because the joints and muscles of the shoulders are less familiar than those of the hips or spine doesn’t mean they are less important. These under-appreciated joints have massive impact on our yoga practices and beyond.

Today hosts Tiffany and Rachel talk about the importance of the shoulders and share favorite practices for both mobility and stability. They explore how shoulder work can be key to unpacking neck and upper back issues, plus improving posture and breathing. They even discuss the more subtle impact of shoulders on confidence and self-esteem.

Listen in to learn how we can all benefit from being more aware of our shoulders, and more skillful in how we use them in yoga and daily life.

“How we carry our shoulders can resemble a lot of other things we carry around: our past, our history, our emotional state, our mental state.” – Tiffany Cruikshank

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“Strength work for the upper body makes people feel stronger and more capable; you can’t under-estimate the impact that can have psychologically.” – Rachel Land

Show Notes:

  • The overall importance of the shoulder [3:22]
  • The challenge of learning to stabilize the shoulders for weight-bearing [5:29]
  • Shoulder work as a “side door” to neck and upper-back issues [8:15]
  • The impact of shoulder strength and mobility for older adults [16:20]
  • Shoulders: self-esteem, self-worth, emotion and connection [17:58]
  • Biomechanical impacts of the shoulders on breathing [22:09]
  • “Shoulders back and down” is not the answer for these mobile joints [25:12]
  • The nuanced issue of posture [29:05]
  • Curiosity around limited or challenging movements or positions [32:48]
  • How the shoulder shows up in yoga practice [36:33]
  • Chaturanga Dandasana: pros and cons, variations and alternatives [39:05]
  • Using the shoulders to create the “heart-opening” of backbends [48:35]
  • Favorite tools for active shoulder mobility [53:04]
  • Passive shoulder mobility work, including MFR and Yin [55:19]
  • Favorite shoulder strength and stability options [57:45]
  • Final considerations and key takeaways [1:02:23]

Links Mentioned:

“The shoulders are more about connection and creativity and reaching out.” – Rachel Land












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