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Ask Aunt Yoga Advice Column - Arm Position in Warrior I

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Updated November 04, 2011

Warrior I

Warrior I - Virabhadrasana I

© Barry Stone
Question: Ask Aunt Yoga Advice Column - Arm Position in Warrior I
Dear Aunt Yoga,

I have an issue that is affecting my practice, and glancing around some of my classes, I'm not the only one. When I am in a position such as warrior I, with my arms straight up, my shoulders follow my arms. I am seemingly unable to keep my shoulders down and relaxed; they creep up around my ears. I try to be very mindful of it, but the only time I've been able to experience the proper posture is when I try this with one arm at a time. It's very frustrating. One of my yoga teachers actually said during class, "You type a lot, don't you?" Is there anything I can do? Help! - A.

Answer: Dear A.,

People who spend a lot of time working on computers tend to have tight shoulders. Poses that require the shoulders to be relaxed down the back will be particularly challenging, but these types of poses are extremely important in counteracting the hunching caused by a desk job. In a classic warrior I posture, the arms are straight and the palms press together overhead. This is challenging to do while keeping the shoulders down away from the ears. The solution is to practice the pose with the arms separated -- keeping the shoulders down is more important than bringing the palms together. You can separate the arms as much as necessary, bringing them shoulder-width apart or even wider, making a V shape. If the shoulders are still coming up, take the arms into a cactus shape with the upper arms parallel to the floor and the forearms perpendicular. This really helps bring the shoulder blades onto the back. Find the arm variation that allows you to keep the shoulders down and work there. It may take years for the shoulders to open, but with consistent practice they will.

Namaste,

Aunt Yoga

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