My love for yoga began with a vinyasa class at a small studio in 2005. The fast paced rhythm and exercise provided an outlet for the athlete inside of me, and harmony of movement offered me tranquility and stress relief. It was love at first savasana.

As I devoted more time to my practice, I began to encounter slowly mounting injuries from yoga, like so many yogis before me. Over time, my shoulders began to lack the ability to endure the demand of a high intensity vinyasa class; the pain would end many of my sessions early, and after months of frustration, I came to harmony with the decision to honor what my body was telling me, and suspend my practice to recover.

When I approached the mat six months later, I was confused, to say the least. Yoga was the gentle art, the practice of breath and movement combined with inner peace. I never expected the searing pain and crushing defeat of a slowly growing injury to be part of my practice. I couldn’t stay away though, I had spent my off-time recovering physically, and also focusing mentally on the practice of yoga itself; this time would be better, I knew I had to change my flow.

My initiation into Yoga Tune Up® was driven by the desire to find peace with my body and my practice. As it turns out, my shoulder issues were just another injury in a long line that I hadn’t pieced together. Growing up as an asthmatic athlete and then entering a career in science where you hunch over a microscope all day, followed by carrying and caring for two children, I have been haunted with hunched shoulders and tight pec minors, a common posture that we see here in Silicon Valley.  Through YTU I was able to better understand my shoulder misalignment issues and begin to regain length in my pec minor and strength in my serratus anterior allowing for a better engaged and better supported shoulder during my flow practice and everyday life.

I know my injury is not an anomaly. Yogis all over the world suffer from unknown injuries coming from incorrect posture and long standing health issues. With the training from YTU I am empowered to not only adjust my own practice, but bring peace and harmony to so many Yogis in my classes which may have problems. And what started as a love for the practice has blossomed into a love for healing and teaching. But this is just the start! Try Shoulder Flossing as I demonstrate below to keep shoulders balanced and happy.

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Kevyn McAnlis

Kevyn started practicing yoga during college in 2003 as a method for relaxation and stress relief. Her study of Anatomy and Physiology helped to deepen her practice. In 2010 she received her 200 hour teacher training certification from Corepower Yoga in Aliso Viejo, California. As Kevyn began exploring new styles of yoga, she walked into a Yoga Tune Up® class. The mix of anatomy with asana won her over and she became YTU certified in 2013. She teaches Vinyasa and Yoga Tune Up® classes in the Bay Area.

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Debbie

I love this exercice! From my childhood, I always had hunched shoulders, loving to read, play piano, riding my bicyble. This move helps me regain more mobility in my shoulders.

Jackie Wolff

Thank you! I’m working on my level 1 YTU homework for this dynamic movement and your post and video really helped me to better understand the how and why. I also have very tight shoulders from a very vigorous vinyasa practice and am looking to avoid future injury…that is also what led me to YTU!

michele

The great thing about this movement exercise is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. Not only a great warm up for so many Yoga poses but also for general daily activities too!

Kati

Great reminder in the video to not allow the ribs to move with you as you mobilize the shoulder. I love this exercise for stretching the pecs and exploring shoulder range of motion.

Joy Dorsey

I see this in my students all of the time. They don’t have a lot of mobility in their shoulders and often their pecs are tight. This is a great movement to build strength and mobility so they can better do many of the key poses in the yoga practice. Thanks for sharing!

Monica

Great post and video, Kevyn! I’ve always loved shoulder flossing, but your explanation of how and why it helps tightness in the shoulders, especially as it regards to the pec minor, was super helpful. Whether someone is rehabilitating an injury or aiming to prevent injury, this practice is supreme for gaining mobility and stability.

Julie

This video really helped me to understand how to warm up my shoulders, achieve more movement, better posture, and reduce my shoulder pain. Thanks.

Dominique Pelletier

I was try this pose this morning in my training YTU. My firts thinking was ” whats a great idea to do on a paddleboard during my class pf sup yoga.” It will be a really good warm up on earth and after on water for my student and to keep the flexibility and mobility of our shoulder.

Sandra

I love shoulder flossing! I do this every time as a warm-up before doing my weight lifting routine, and also include it in my morning stretch routine after waking up. It has helped me a lot with maintaining healthy shoulder mobility and flexibility. Plus, it feels great on the shoulders, like a shoulder joint massage.

Liz

In the beginning I had a love hate relationship with shoulder flossing. Now I just love it. When I get up in the morning feel really tight across the shoulders. I pick up by strap and start flossing. I use the strap pretty wide at first then tighten it up. My shoulder begin to feel clean,clean of all the gunk that has formed overnight, just like my teeth

Patricia Lamontagne

I really do like this exercise. It feels so good in the shoulders and in the pecs. A “Keeper” in my exercise tools kit.

Nancy Neuenhagen

I discovered the shoulder flossing minivini in training today. I found that I have some movement limitations at various spots in the range of motion. I have what i considered to be strong shoulders from training as a competitive paddler. I have been frustrated in my yoga practice that some poses were not accessible. Limited range and an inability to access my strength are the likely culprits. I am excited to see how some regular flossing and targeted ball work might impact my performance.

Lulu Goodman

A recent shoulder injury has given me the opportunity to learn more about my shoulders — not to mention this weekend at YTU Level 1! Shoulder flossing done correctly is completely different from the way I learned it at CrossFit. I will be anxious to return home to the box where I coach and re teach this valuable exercise.

Nicole Garratt

I like the idea of using a strap! I’ve done this with a pvc pipe and I think this would feel better for those who are really tight in the shoulder

Eileen

I like this idea for everyone I teach. It can also be practiced at work for all those desk workers hunching over their computers, or as a stretch drivers of long distances can do if and when they are at rest. All you need is a strap. I can definitely teach this to my seniors as well.

C. Chiu

Great tip about reducing the distance between hands. As your shoulders get warmer, you may find that you can choke up on the grip and get even more of a stretch. This is my favourite YTU pose!

Claudia Blasimann

As a Yoga teacher at a CrossFit box, I sometimes struggle to find connections from Yoga movements to CrossFit movements. To incorporate the Shoulder Flossing in the Yoga class, doing it with a Tubular Core (which CrossFitter should know from any kind of Olympic Lifts), but also doing it in a controlled way (according to the mechanics – consistency – intensity) and combined with the breath will hopefully bring more awareness to the “Shoulder dislocations” the normally do with a PVC pipe to warm up.

Gina McKiernan

I remember the first time I did this warm up – it was part of a yoga class that took on YogaGlo, an online yoga class. I thought this stretch was the greatest thing ever, especially because I am an office worker. I spend 7-9 hours a day sitting (read: hunching) at my desk typing with my shoulders internally rotated. Doing this stretch immediately “woke up” my shoulders and made me aware of my posture!

I am currently working towards my yoga teacher certification and I plan on including this stretch often in the beginning of class.

Mary

It is good to take this movement from slow to progressively fast as the shoulders open up.

Ananda Tinio

I hold the majority of tension in my shoulder blades and came to yoga 8 years ago already knowing that. Yet, when I learned how to do caturanga I became obsessed with them, adding vinyasas on even when not instructed. Then when I learned ganda berundasana (grasshopper, chin stand), I added those to every vinyasa sequence, great for the ego but much to the detriment of my shoulders. What started as an integrative, calming, healing practice, yoga asana morphed into a source of more body pain, chronic tension, stress, and injury. I love it when people say, “Isn’t yoga all… Read more »

Tanell

It is so wonderful to do this movement very, very slowly. It really allows you to discover your sticky points and to bring awareness to where one joint might be struggling more than the other. I’m a CrossFit trainer and know that without healthy shoulder mobility you will be compromising your spine and your shoulders in most of the movements performed.

Aubrey Heinemann

Being honest with yourself and knowing if your practice is truly serving your entire being or just your ego is difficult. But once you realize and admit that you are only serving your ego and not your entire being there is an amazing freedom in that too. To give yourself permission to do things differently. I had my own shoulder issues from doing vinyasa in a non-intelligent way. Understanding how to depress and externally rotate shoulders, pronate the forearm and activate the serratus anterior has made a world of difference in my shoulders. And then to floss to keep the… Read more »

carol

I hope that yoga tuneup training will seep rapidly into yoga studios, because everyone needs this better understanding of body mechanics in order to avoid unnecessary pain and injury. Mindfulness indeed! Your shoulder floss is a great and simple exercise that I will try to remember to do when I finish flossing my teeth–why not!? It will be a good new habit to form!

lulu yen

Whether you love swimming at the gym or golfing in Carmel, staying active is key to good health. If chronic shoulder pain is slowing you down, don’t wait any longer to get help. What most people call the shoulder is really several joints that combine with tendons and muscles to allow a wide range of motion in the arm — from scratching your back to throwing the perfect pitch. The yoga tune up exercise is critical to give us the range of motion everyday.

Sandy Ahlensdorf

In CrossFit we do this movement with a PVC pipe – called Passthroughs. The difference between Flossing the Shoulders and how I’ve always seen Passthroughs performed is the slow, methodical movements, engaged tubular core, and breath. With your vinyasa-induced pain, I wonder if a lack of focus on form in chaturanga transition was a large source of damage from not protracting, depressing the shoulders and not adducting the elbows into the body? In CrossFit, I’ve seen far too many poor form pushups with, elevated, retracted shoulders and zero external rotation. Thanks for this article – it’s a great resource to… Read more »

Christine

Such a fantastic way to warm up your shoulders when you first get out of bed or before a good workout! After I learned about shoulder flossing I found that my ROM was greatly improved and the shoulder problems I’d been experiencing really started to diminish!

Christine

I absolutely love shoulder flossing !! I have been dealing with rotator cuff issues and am finally starting to heal them. I find it really wakens up your shoulders especially when you first get out of bed or before a good shoulder workout!

Alex Booth

I come from the weightlifting world and I would say that shoulder issues are probably the most common issue of all. Ask the average gym goer to do some of these flosses and they can barely get it around their back if at all! When I was having issues I would do 50 of these a day gradually reducing my grip width through the “set” . This floss is really great and does make great change and quick!

Caitlin Vestal

Thanks for this video! As a sometimes-Vinyasa teacher, I’ve struggled with how to adequately warm up students shoulders before jumping into a bunch of Down Dogs and Chaturangas, and Shoulder Flossing is a fantastic, quick way to get the shoulders to move. I find that just the visual of calling it “flossing” gets people to understand what exactly we’re trying to do and why it might be important before a more intense movement practice.

Linh Taylor

It’s so important to warm up the shoulders before starting a vinyasa flow practice. Shoulder flossing is so simple yet it manages to move the shoulders in all directions. This exercise is a must. My shoulders are often very tight from rock climbing and swimming. I’m so glad I learned this exercise. I do teach this to all of my students and they love it too. A student told me he’s doing it every day. Cool stuff.

Veronica

I love the way this excercise warm up your body and prepare for yoga poses, specially handstand, arm balances, etc. I just remember the first time that I practice, I found it very hard, it was stressing specially when I go backwards, and there where some sticky places. Now I can tell 2 thing: 1. It’s much easier than the beginning and I can increase the range of movement 2. It helps me to recover from a shoulder injury: the movement increase synobial liquid and due the movement the blood flow increases which help to repair the damage tissue. Thanks… Read more »

Clare Chura

I like how you keep the strap taught by wrapping it around each hand, Kevyn. I find that the strap sometimes slides around while I tug on it. I’ll try this out next time I floss! For me, this pose has the greatest effect on my glenohumeral joint. Traveling with the strap throughout such a wide range of motion gets deep into my shoulder sockets, warming them up and moving through tight spots within the area.

Nan Huson

This article caught my eye because of the term “flossing” in the title. It’s great that the word is getting out about a way to floss the shoulders. When I had an extruded L5/S1 disc, there was a period of time when I did a technique I called “flossing my nerves” before I needed to be seated for a period of time, for example. It was something I “had to” do, and then all of a sudden, I didn’t need to do it anymore. Part of the healing process!

Nikki Wong

nicely done Kevyn… clear and direct demonstration and instruction. Newbies are not the only ones who can injure their shoulders during vinyasa classes. I think the worse are the veteran yogis who think they know it all and double up their chaturangas or just plow thru them as fast as they can are more likely to injure their shoulders. Then there are times when our bodies are just not feeling like a vinyasa class but we take them anyway… yogis are the most stubborn of people 😉 I find it helpful to do this shoulder flossing as you demo’ed and… Read more »

kim haegele

I’ve had shoulder injury from yoga, too, and was thinking about this issue today as Jill gave us explicit instruction in external rotation of the shoulders. Often, the ubiquitous Vinyasa Flow class is populated by people who’ve not learned shoulder-saving preparation for or specific alignment in Chaturanga. Because of this, the shoulder heads drop forward and down, exacerbating the problem of weak external shoulder rotators and a tight pec. minor, which results in a slippery slope toward shoulder pain and dysfunction. I think that “shoulder flossing”, teaching proper engagement of the muscles of the rotator cuff and specific alignment cues… Read more »

Pat Donaher

I am a conservatory-trained saxophonist, who would practice for 4+ hours a day with my shoulders rolled forward and head jutted out. Even with a regular yoga practice, i could never find any space in my shoulders. This pose by itself was the beginning of my emergence from saxophonasana and back into a full range of motion in my shoulders. (and, not surprisingly, a fuller range of breath, which decidedly helped my saxophone sound)

Alison

Your story is like so many of us recovering yogis 🙂 We dove into strong vinyasa practices or long-held shoulder stands because they felt great at the time but down the road contributed to or caused injury that made us pause and reevaluate how we practice. YTU has enlightened me on how to move better and more intelligently instead of just plough through a 90 minute sweat fest power vinyasa with little to no awareness of stability of my joints or honouring my limitations. We desperately NEED this education in the yoga world so that we can teach students the… Read more »

Lynda Jaworski

Nice video. And I do agree – your story is not uncommon. Girl meets yoga – Girl Loves yoga – Girl Loves vinyasa yoga and practises over a course of months/years with improper alignment, no proprioception and ignoring her pain – Broken …Girl leaves yoga. Some yoga stories stop here and have no happy ending. But I’m so glad yours did not! Girl meets Jill Miller and Yoga Tune Up® – Girl becomes a student of her own body – learns to take care of herself and heal herself – Girl becomes Yoga Tune Up® teacher and helps other Girls… Read more »

Jenna

Love this. I think it’s so important to warm up the shoulders and create awareness in the muscles supporting the shoulders before an asana practice. As much as everyone loves a chatarunga, upward, downward dog flow, without strength and mobility in this area, the results are just no good. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

Kevyn McAnlis

Should be fixed, sorry about that!

Michelle Dalbec

I would love a visual of the shoulder flossing but when I clicked on your video link it says it’s private. I look forward to seeing it when this technical issue is fixed.