Try to hold your arms out to the sides for 5 minutes.  Just try it.  Ok, for time’s sake try 1 minute.  It’s hard, right?  Now try it in Warrior 2. Woah!  It takes a lot of work!

So much is happening in Warrior 2 that your arms/shoulders can become neglected.  How many times have you been in a yoga class and the instructor lifts your drooping back arm in Warrior 2?  Not only is every muscle in your legs and torso either stretching, lengthening, or building muscle, but your arms are abducted as your shoulders hold up the weight of your arms.  If you’re having a tough time keeping the full expression of Warrior 2, it could ultimately be weakness in your supraspinatus muscle.

The skinny supraspinatus initiates abduction of the arm away from the body.

Building strength in your arms and rotator cuff muscles will assist in providing enough strength to abduct your shoulders for a longer period of time.  The most important of these for abduction of the shoulders is the supraspinatus.  The supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subcapularis, and teres minor are the 4 muscles of the rotator cuff.  These rotator cuff muscles surround the humeral head to stabilize the shoulder joint.   The supraspinatus originates at the scapula and inserts on the greater tuberosity of the humerus in front of the infraspinatus.  It helps to abduct the upper arm bone away from the body and move it overhead (a la Sun Salutations.)  It is the only rotator cuff muscle not involved in shoulder rotation but it assists in many everyday activities and yoga poses.

Strengthening rotator cuff muscles is crucial in preventing common shoulder injuries and helps open up the chest.  In a world where millions of people internally rotate and hunch over, the supraspinatus weakens causing a rounding in the shoulders.  Yoga Tune Up® poses like Pranic Bath, Propeller Arms and Stand Up Bodysurfing will awaken and/or strengthen the supraspinatus for a much more open chest and stronger Warrior 2 pose.

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Lauren Cap

After years of being told to stand up straight and relax, Lauren decided to take her first yoga class. She fell in love with the practice and knew it would always be a part of her life. She received her Vinyasa Yoga Certification from Prana Power Yoga NYC and found teaching others to be just as rewarding as her own personal practice. She gravitated towards Yoga Tune Up® as a way to expand her anatomy knowledge and learn personal techniques to live a longer, healthier life. She is thankful to Jill Miller's Yoga Tune Up® teachings for showing her that the truly advanced always know when to modify.

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Pose at once so simple and so complex thanks for my shoulders


I love the suggested YTU poses at the end of this post. Many thanks for those!


Great article sharing the importance of the supraspinatus. Struggling with propeller arms – my brain is fighting my body and it’s really tough to embody the movement.

Marie-Michelle Darveau

Its really good to read that now as i’m building a class to aim towards warrior 2 as a final pose, and i’m focusing so much on the legs preparation, but the holding arm part is actually the part that some people are having hard time with because they get tire easy.

Renee Bolan

Rolling on the supraspinatus is key to help me get through my day to day life. This post is a good reminder to not only massage the muscle but the importance of strengthening the muscle.


I love massaging this muscle with YTU therapy ball. I always feel I’m opening up my chest more and tension of shoulder decrease.


Supraspinatus is the superior of the 4 muscles of the rotator cuff: including infraspinatus, subcapularis, and teres minor.


Just today I targeted my supraspinatus with my YTU balls and was in heaven with relief. As my curiosity about this rotator cuff muscle peaked, I was so happy to come across your blog post. It helped me to understand that strengthening this muscle is vitally important for daily activities as well as for all those yogis out there who want to maintain a safe, lifelong practice. Such a cool observation to point out that droopy arms in Warrior 2 can signify weakness in the supraspinatus. I’ll keep an eye out for this when I teach, noting that it might… Read more »