Keepin' it Real Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 9

Shoulder Love

35 min - Practice


Take care of you. Robert shares a variety of postures and stretches dedicated to opening, stretching, and strengthening the shoulders. You will feel open and receptive.
What You'll Need: Mat, Strap, Block (2)

About This Video

Apr 25, 2017
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Hey, what's going on? This is Robert, and we're going to work on shoulders, amongst other things, but shoulders are the main focus. It's an area of my body that always needs work, always needs attention, so let's do what we can to open them up, stretch them, work them, all right? So child's pose. Shoulders pose.

Knees are relatively wide, seat reaching back toward the heels. So let's do two versions. First take the arms out as far as you can, reaching the forehead in the direction of the floor. See what kind of active stretch you can get, not only through the shoulders, but through your side body, your rib cage, your upper side, back region. Always breathing, always finding some rhythm of breathing that feels, that you can draw your attention to.

You can draw your attention to three or four seconds on the inhalation, four or five seconds on the exhalation. Now take the hands, and maybe even bring your knees a little closer, slide the hands back toward your heels, and let your shoulders fall forward, so as little effort in the shoulders as you can. So one of the things I do personally that I like is if I lift my butt, and then my palms facing up, reach and almost like looking to interlace my fingers underneath, and then what it does basically is my seat, my hamstrings rest on my forearms and wrists, and I can really let the shoulders relax, zero effort, three breaths, breathe in, breathe out, follow your inhalation, follow the exhalation. Inhale, and exhale, good, slide the arms back forward, tabletop position, inhale, come through cow pose, and exhale, cat pose, and if you come back into table, what I want you to focus on for a moment here is isolating, like can you draw your shoulders up toward your ears, and then let your chest, like roll the shoulders back, so your arms are straight, right, and then the shoulders drop toward your ears, and then if you can kind of let your head drop down and your chest drop down, that might draw your shoulder blades together, what I'm looking for is like just a little bit of stretch, a little bit of space or mobility in the shoulder blades, which I totally connect with and include with the shoulders, for me anyway. So what can I do here, and then really make that part of cat cow, so when I'm in cat pose, I'm separating and stretching through the upper back and shoulder blades and shoulders, and then cow pose, let the shoulders come down, chest through, butt up, back arched, and take one more time, so exhale, some of this stuff, you know, I can cue all day, but you won't really get it until you find those moments of curiosity, where you're open to exploration, you know, so feel free to do that, okay, so you've kind of worked through that region, take your hands, keep your seat, your hips right over your knees, walk your hands out as far as you can, stretching your arms, right, stay active though, and reach your chest and your chin in the direction of the floor, so feel like upper spine, maybe mid back, but mostly geared towards shoulders and chest, and as always, right, if you come into the pose and it's just like this full on shake and tremble, and you're just wondering when I'm going to, you know, exit you out, you know, move away from it, be in the habit of moving away from that crazy intense stretch, pausing, breathing in, and you exhale kind of back into it, one more time, try that, back away, breathe in, and exhale, sink back in, nice, come forward onto your stomach, and if you take Sphinx pose for a moment, maybe even like dip a shoulder here and there, meaning like the shoulder comes forward, you may feel some kind of stretch, but if you slide the hands back a little bit more, so with my hands back toward like cobra or upward dog position, and then let that left shoulder dip forward, the right shoulder dip forward, you might even lift up, roll through the shoulders a little bit, kind of like a very kind of slumpy upward dog, lift the shoulder come forward, good, go back into tabletop, thread the needle, shoulder upper back love, reach the right arm out, up, up and away, and then weave it underneath that left arm, the right palm is actually facing up, see what that feels like, reach it across, try and level out the hips, keep your right hip in line with your left, bring your head down, your shoulder down, good, take one more breath, feel your way through it, it's up to you, now slowly come out, and when I say it's up to you, left hand comes underneath the right, when I say it's up to you, it just means like I really encourage you to explore, I can give you a certain amount of cueing, which I think is helpful, no doubt, but then you know, that's really up to you, dependent on your body type, your interests, where you want to go in the pose, how long you want to stay in the pose, where you want to send the breath, good, slowly come back out, tabletop, throw in another cat cow because we can, so now the shoulders are somewhat warmed up, I've got these two blocks here, okay, and the strap, so I'm gonna grab the strap, grab one block, so I've got two, if you do not have two blocks to sit on, I encourage you to grab a pillow, maybe like your couch has a big cushion, you may not even need it, but for kneeling pose, and we're gonna be here for a little bit, I want to place the blocks like so, right, sit my butt here, so both sit bones kind of rest comfortably on the blocks, okay, so once you find yourself comfortable, grab the strap, and if you don't have a strap, a t-shirt, a long towel, the first part is going to be somewhat long, so a long towel, a belt, alright, so you can press pause, go find it, come back, sit down, join me, I'll wait for you, just kidding, okay, no I would wait for you, totally, kidding me, we go way back, like five minutes, seven minutes, maybe longer, alright, so check it out, shoulders, it's all about the shoulders for this, okay, and I want you to like feel your way through this, take the strap pretty wide, okay, for me it's right around, yeah, that's a good distance, any shorter, I wouldn't be able to go all the way back, so what I want to do is about five times, reach up, reach back, and maybe for the first one it's like whoa, alright, there's the spot, now for me I feel it across my chest, and across the front part of my shoulders, a little bit in the back, I'm going to take it all the way back, okay, from here reverse, nice, so that's one, up and back, so what might be helpful is if you pause here, breathe in, use the exhale, just as like two focal points, right, so you're drawing your attention to the sensation of the stretch and the breath, breathe in, exhale, nice, good, breathe in, exhale, rotate up and through, and who knows, maybe by now you can shorten it a little bit, let's see, let's do one more, breathe in and exhale, rotate, rotate, rotate, okay, a little interesting now, but if I pause there, instead of like fighting it, right, nice, let's come back through one more time, breathe in, and keep the distance on the strap right here, don't make any changes, sit up tall, roll the shoulders a little bit, okay, let's take it up one more time, and we'll take the left arm up, like a little side bend, right, so left arm up, right arm out to the right, up to center, over to the other side, you can kind of play around a little bit with the side bend by pulling that right arm back, let's do it again on the other side, see what that feels like, over to the right, pull the left arm back a little bit, good, back up to center, bring the left arm down, right arm high, a little side bend like this, switch it up, left arm high, right arm down, a little stretch, good, back up to center, let the strap come down, now shorten the distance about shoulder width, reach all the way up, pull the arms back as far as you can, try not to arch your back too much, really ground the sit bones, right, your tailbone draws down toward the block, right, low ribs pull in, try to isolate the movement, the arms straight, pull the arms back, shoulders release down like the shoulders want to connect into the shoulder blades or the upper back, good, and release, take the strap back behind you now, okay, hold on about waist width or closer or even wider, right, now pull the chest open and then depending on how high you are, if I were lower I'd reach my hands down to the floor, but I'll just reach back, push the chest up, maybe move the neck around a little bit, so this is really helpful for all of us, not just those of you who sit and drive and every single one of us could really stand to just open up the shoulders, open up the shoulders, open up the chest and maybe even the heart, I don't know, just a guess, good, alright, try this, lean forward, reach the arms high, like a child's pose, with your arms up and over your head, good, back up to center, sweet, okay, from here let's take maybe a minute, okay, a minute, if you bend your right arm like a goal post or even, yeah, like a goal post and bring the arm out in front of you, in back of you, like reach the arm in this 90 degree angle back behind you and then really with that right arm why don't you just reach it forward like you're doing like a swimming crawl, right, like you're swimming and reaching all the way forward and then reaching all the way back, do the reverse, so the right arm right now, the right fingertips are reaching up all the way as high as you can and circling back behind you, so it's really just, it's movement, alright, we're just looking for movement, a little blood flow, now, good, enough with the right, try the left, so try that 90 degree angle forward and back a little bit and then try that crawl, like reach the left arm forward back, remember, right, this is all for your shoulders, left arm reach it all the way back, so it's like the, what is that, the backstroke I guess, right, good, last one, good, okay, one more, two more things before we get off this position here, take your hands, interlace them like so behind your back, okay, now, bend your arms and take your fists, your knuckles over to the left part of your waist, the left waist, low left part of your back, now the right shoulder might be the, might be more of the emphasis on the stretch, so if you can roll the head of the right shoulder back, left shoulder back and then tip your head to the left and the chin up, what kind of stretch can you get through, not only the shoulder but through your neck, your throat, you can feel the attachments potentially all the way up into your ear, good, spring your head back to neutral and switch sides, so you drag the knuckles across your low back to the right side of your waist, the emphasis is now left shoulder back, even the right, open up, head to the left, like it's so interesting, you know, on the other side I could feel just insane stretch all the way up through my jaw and my ear on this side, not so much, so just another example of one side feeling it so much more than the other, okay, rewind, good, release the arms, one last thing here, if you take your right arm, weave it underneath the left, take the right fingertips and wiggle toward that left thumb for eagle arms, so my right fingers are now drawing toward my left palm, okay, now lift your elbows up, sensation might feel, you know, pretty intense in your upper back between your shoulder blades, maybe draw your fingers forward, you'll feel that maybe in your shoulders a little bit, you can rotate to the right a little bit, it's not as much on the left, it's more focused on that left shoulder, twisting to the right, good, release, left arm underneath the right, eagle arms, elbows up, fingers forward, twist a little bit to the left, good, good work, and release the hands down to the thighs, sit upright, sit upright, not sit up right like you were sitting wrong, so if you have a strap or a belt, take a moment while the shoulders are sort of relaxing and roll up your strap, alright, nice, so strap, move the blocks, whatever you were sitting on, let that disappear for a moment and we'll meet in downward dog via table top, okay, so from here table top curl those toes and rise up for downward facing dog, might feel nice after sitting like in that kneeling position for so long to stretch the legs out, walk up to the front of your mat, kind of wiggle your way into the pose, right, fold, exhale, inhale, lift up halfway, full inhalation and exhale, land in forward bend, find a couple breaths here, forward bend of your choice, invite you to bend the knees, draw your tailbone down and round it out as you roll it up, inhale, bring the arms high, press your palms together if that's an option, get up super tall, breathe in and exhale, palms together at your heart, okay, step pretty wide on your mat, okay, so from here, if you need your strap, right, we're gonna reach back behind us, interlace our fingers, if the strap is helpful for you, grab the strap or the belt, okay, so two part bend here, leg, right, legs, forward bending, whatever benefits those are, hamstrings most likely, inner thighs and then we'll have the shoulders, shoulders here, so knees bent, push the hips back a little bit, folding, grounding evenly into both feet, maybe even trying to pull those feet together if they were on a slippy surface and now the hands don't have to come all the way up, you can leave them at your low back, do your best to lengthen the back of your neck, like let your neck, like turn it yes and no and forward and back, good, alright, put a little bend in the knees, maybe even put your hands on the thighs, flatten out the back and rise all the way up, good job, back to the front of the mat, inhale, bring the arms as high as you can, exhale, forward bend, inhale, lift halfway, plank pose on the exhale, pause here, the only real effort in the shoulders, muscular effort is when you lower all the way down, okay, adjust yourself on your mat, once you're all the way down, okay, this is definitely meant for shoulder and actually maybe up into your chest, so if you take your left arm out to the left, so slide it all the way out, palm facing down, use your right hand, which wherever it was located, meaning like by your ribcage, to roll over, roll your body over to the left in the direction of that left arm, now your right foot is going to be placed right behind your left knee, let's say, okay, if that's not doable at all, you can lay the right leg on top of the left, okay, that's not really the focus is what I'm trying to say, the legs are not the focus, so what happens a lot of times is we roll into this and we're like that's all we got, that's all we have, but about halfway in, if you can walk the hands over a little bit more, like crawl them over, you might find more space, so the left leg is kind of bent, the right foot is placed down behind the left knee, place your head down if you've got that, you can keep using that right hand as support to stay in the pose, you can also bring that right hand to your low back, kind of open up the chest a little bit.

Stay with your breath, okay, good, slowly bring yourself back to the starting position, okay, switch arms, right arm reaches out, walk it out as far as you can, make sure you get as much of the front of your shoulder and chest grounded with your right palm facing down, and then use your left hand to roll yourself to the right, but halfway there, walk the hand, the right hand farther, farther over, good, left foot, find it, basically it's like make your left foot comfortable, your left leg, either stack it on the right or bend it and place it down on the floor, okay, head comes down, find a good place for that left hand, you know, it might be like you might be so kind of bound up in that shoulder that you need that left hand for like serious support, if you're super bendy, you can take the left arm up and to your back or even like super, super bendy, reach the left hand back to the right hand, which I can't do, you don't need to do a lot like keep it moderate, two more breaths, breathe in, breathe out, one more breath, inhale and exhale, good, slowly roll back out, you know, it's nice also when you roll out of a deep stretch like that, like pause and feel the post stretch effects, center yourself on the mat, take a pretty relaxed cobra pose, inhale and exhale, push yourself back into child's pose, you can bring your knees a little closer to one another, now it's gonna, you know, your belly's gonna press on the thighs, that's okay, it's just, what's nice about bringing your thighs together in child's pose is that your low back and mid back gets a nice stretch, nice counter pose from some of the other things we may have been doing, rest your head, breathe in, breathe out, two more breaths, inhale, exhale, inhale and exhale. Take this onto our back, take a short relaxation, take the bottoms of your feet together, let your knees open up, reach up, stretch your upper back out a little bit, so move your shoulder blades away from one another, maybe even let the palms face up so the arms are in this like 90 degree angle, field goal post shape, maybe even in a Y shape overhead, if that bothers your shoulders, bring your arms alongside your body, this is just maybe one more position for your shoulders to passively open, lying on your back, ending the practice with relaxation, a short few moments to relax all of the effort. You can either let go of the breath completely and trust that it comes and goes on its own or you can deliberately breathe in and create long calming exhales, so if you breathe in through your nose, hold the breath gently and when you're ready to exhale, open the mouth just a little bit and let just the longest exhale trail through the mouth, two more inhale, hold the breath, exhale completely, inhale, holding the breath. Exhale completely, stretch the legs out, reach up overhead, arch the back a little bit, draw the knees in and maybe just one gentle little rock up to sit. So I hope that this practice, I don't know, I hope it feels good for your shoulders, that's what it was designed for.

Think of it as like self-care, maintenance, can't hurt, move your body, it's closed out. Thank you, have a beautiful day.


Heike S
2 people like this.
This was very interesting.
Thank you for the travel through the Shoulder.
I try it and like it
Dannette W
3 people like this.
That was a wonderful practice. I loved how concentrated the movement was, Great relief for my shoulders & upper back. Thanks Robert!
Robert Sidoti
You are welcome Dannette. The shoulders and upper back are such a tender area for most, good to know it felt good for you:))
Laurie W
1 person likes this.
Robert, this was so thorough. Loved the use of the strap, the blocks, the ease of your voice and your sense of humor!
Robert Sidoti
Glad you enjoyed this practice Laurie!
Tesa Urbonaite Dunn
What a great practice! Thank you. Loved the strap work and side bends. Your energy is super fun:)
Fabian H
1 person likes this.
my shoulders feel happy!
Fabian H
1 person likes this.
It is up to me to explore!  :))
Laura M
1 person likes this.
Thank you!! You're such a good teacher!
Robert Sidoti
Thank you Laura M for your very positive and generous comments here, very much appreciated :)) 
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