Yoga to Go In: Shoulders

TADASANA — Mountain Pose


  • Feet slightly apart and parallel, stand on heels to lift trunk. Arms slightly away from body and parallel to sides of hips. Balance the trunk; raise the side chest.
  • Seat the front upper arm bone in its socket; extend the arms to the fingertips.
  • Maintaining the firmness of the arms in the socket and without throwing the ribs forward, further lift the side chest, then open from center to the sides and from back to front.


URDHVA HASTASANA — Hands Up, Palms Facing Forward

  • From Tadasana, inhale and take the arms up. Extend them! Fully lengthen and spread the fingers. Keep the front ribs in.
  • Keep the top of the upper trapezius (just under the neck in the back) down, raising the arms fully.
  • If arms don’t straighten, do one at a time, using the other hand to turn and lift that arm.


URDHVA HASTASANA — Hands Up, Palms Facing Each Other


  • From Tadasana, inhale and take the arms up; this time the palms face each other. Keep the front ribs in.
  • Press the outer heels down and raise the fingernails up.
  • Lift the inner ankles and raise the palms up.
  • How is this different from palms facing forward? What does it teach you?


URDHVA HASTASANA — Palms Pushing Brick Up

  • Flat palms; remember to stand on heels and to keep the ribs in.
  • Maintaining the upper trapezius down, push the brick up all the way from your lower ribs to the ceiling.
  • Make the armpits even and tall, the neck, eyes and tongue quiet.
  • What does this teach you about what you can do? What does it teach your chest and your breath?



  • From Tadasana, clasp your hands webbing to webbing in front of your body, and turn your palms out. If you can, bring the feet closer together.
  • On an inhalation, extend the arms up. Thumbs down, little fingers down, base of the index fingers up, lengthen and spread the palms.
  • Extend and push up so much that the upper arms go behind and above the ears… What is different about your ability to go in?



  • From Tadasana, spread the arms wide, from the center
  • Firm the tricep to support the floor side of the upper arm bone.
  • Without lifting the shoulders or moving the arms, push the palms down as if into a shelf.



HASTA PADASANA — Legs and Arms Wide

  • Stand on the outer heels; raise the ankles and inner thighs.
  • Arm instructions are the same.
  • What changed for you?

 PARSVA HASTA PADASANA — Turned, Legs and Arms Wide


  • From the previous position, turn the left foot in and the right leg all the way out. Line up the heel of the right foot with the instep of the left foot.
  • Standing on your outer heels and extending the toes, raise the trunk up.
  • Notice that the trunk tends to turn the way the feet turned. Lift it further to bring it back to center. Now rest, and repeat to the left.


TEACHING THE LEG TO TURN — Alignment and Perception Training


  • In Parsva Hasta Padasana, often we need to train ourselves in turning the leg.
  • Use the thumb, fingers and palm to rotate the flesh of the thigh out, so that it is possible to bring the knee to face the same direction as the toes. Then learn to repeat this action without using the hand.
  • This training is essential for sensitivity in the seated postures.





In Parsva Hasta Padasana, when we turn the leg out, the buttock of that leg often becomes loose. To support the turn of the trunk back to center, we need to firm the outer gluteus muscle.

With the hand in the same position, use the fingers to discern whether the outer buttock is loose. Firm it up, as if you were going to skate that leg to the side. Now repeat the action without your hand, and increase it to support the forward turn of the trunk.


UTTHITA TRIKONASANA — Triangle Pose, Intermediate Stage


  • From Parsva Hasta Padasana, further extend the side trunk to take the right hand down to the ankle.
  • Press the back heel to the floor, firm the gluteus of the front buttock, and from that firm foundation, extend the trunk from base to crown.
  • Open the arms wide. From the shoulder blade push the right palm down, and from the front chest, extend the right fingertips up.
  • Open the fingers away from each other… Now pull from the left arm to come up; rest; repeat to the left.

ADHOMUKHA SVANASANA — Downward Facing Dog Pose


  • First, stand and bend forward so the fingertips are in front of the feet. Walk the hands forward while keeping the thighs back.
  • Second version is to stand and bend forward, place the palms down, and walk the feet back while keeping the lower torso high.
  • In both versions, pull with the palms and soles as if stretching the floor.


Namaste! This series is adapted from the work of Dr. Geeta Iyengar. I hope it helps you develop a sense of ease and peace in your sitting practice.

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