The next time your client hits a performance plateau, encourage them to breathe more, not work more. Muscles need oxygen to repair and strengthen. Restrictions in the shoulder girdle, be they from injury, poor posture or generalized tension can impair breath capacity by restricting movement of the scapulae and ultimately the respiratory diaphragm. When we see people breathing clavicularly we know their bodies are trying to “dis-arm” themselves to get the weight of the shoulders and arms off the lungs. Their own bodies know if they can breathe deeper, they can work harder.

To dis-arm your client, try the YTU Therapy Ball Rotator Cuff sequence and some PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) work for the neck to help them literally ‘lighten up.’ They’ll be holding those planks for a long time in no time. Here’s a clip of some simple upper trapezius work from the 5 Minute Quick Fix for the Neck video to help relieve abused upper back and neck muscles from all that tension.

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Christine Jablonski

I believe most people who end up in the fitness profession are trying to heal themselves. Fifteen years ago I sought out SPIN to rehabilitate a full knee reconstruction. Ten years ago I started Pilates to help me recover from a horseback riding accident. More recently, as still-young age and old injuries caught up with me, I began a restorative and Kripalu yoga practice. In every instance, with every discipline, I've experienced a moment of “ahhh....I want to make everyone feel this good.” And so began my path toward fitness studio ownership where I could keep my classes small and focused on my client's journeys from injury, through healing, and on to strength. In addition to figuring out how my clients and I could feel even better (as well as look better in our jeans), curiosity about human biomechanics led me to study with Helena Collins of Life in Synergy, Sadie Nardini of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, and of course, Jill Miller. Combing the knowledge from these tremendous teachers with my strong Pilates background has enabled me to create exceptionally effective programs for my clients, who range from joint replacement patients needing post-physical therapy help to the “uninjured” wanting stronger, better aligned bodies so they can experience life to the fullest.

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I think I say ‘depress your shoulder blade” at least 10X in every class I teach… I never related it to their shallow breathing, (because I remind them to deepen their breath even more often)… just to concentraing and a natural reflex due to lack of proprioceptive knowledge of the body part being engaged. I’m always happy to learn a new angle, so thank you for this clip, I’ll have a different view of those rising shoulders today in class!

Christina Powers

Everytime I hold my breath, whether on purpose or on accident, my shoulders are shrugged up near my ears. It is empowering and very freeing to know that with some deep yogic breathing or other pranayama you can induce peacefullness and relaxation that will affect both body and mind. Coordinating breath with movement helps to decrease stress, strain, and helps with tissue repair, and healing.

Eva Berswick

that’s a great advice. Breath more. I also had some bad experiences with Ibuprofen as it is very harsh on the stomach and the intestines. Since I refused to take anything stronger after a surgery, I also struck out with Ibuprofen. However during pain we tend to hold our breath, not depen it. Yoga made that change for me, the Yoga Tune Up balls are just an extra added bonus.


I was always popping ibuprophens for headaches and upper shoulder aches and then one day I had enough. I was on the edge of purchasing industrial size bottle of medication and thought that I had to rely on myself and not chemicals and that was when I discovered yoga and yogic breathing. Although this wasn’t a cure all, it definitely was the beginning of the end of my reliance of medication for relief. From there I discovered various neck stretches from my massage therapist and then Yoga Tune Up for the neck and shoulders. And now when I begin to… Read more »


I love this advice. I don’t need to work hard – just breathe more! I ignored the imbalance in my neck and upper back for a long time until it finally froze me up. There was nothing i could do to relieve the pain, no comfortable place. Each time this would occur doctors would prescribe pain meds, anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants. On more than one occasion i also received some variation of happy pill in response to my rising anxiety about this problem. Finally an MRI revealed a slipped disc in my cervical spine. I was traumatized! I could no… Read more »

Brigitta Dau

Great advise! I have found too that the stronger and more fit the client is, the more sophisticated and open the client is to try new things to gain more strength, speed, etc. My Pilates clients are mostly runners looking to assist in their training and have found they run faster races when including tune up and pilates into their workouts