In my last post, I wrote about the infraspinatus and the important contribution it makes toward integral alignment and stability for the shoulders in handstand – or any other weight bearing pose for that matter. Check out the video below for a fantastic way to assess your shoulders’ ability to externally rotate in relation to the forearm and hand positioning required for Downward Dog (and consider that this assessment test could be applied to handstand biomechanics as well). Also, explore Dolphin Supinate pose, which will help awaken your infraspinatus, teres minor and posterior deltoids while training (or retraining) them to remember the positioning needed to support your shoulders in Downward Dog, Dolphin – and your handstands too!

Read “The Spin on the Infraspinatus.”

Discover more solutions for shoulder pain.

Watch our free Quickfix shoulder video.

Elissa Strutton

Elissa Dawn Strutton, E-RYT is a certified Yoga Tune Up ® instructor and is also a certified Forrest Yoga teacher. She delights in sharing the gifts of yoga with others and is committed to providing a space that facilitates healing, self-discovery and personal growth. Elissa’s classes are challenging, yet accessible as she supports students of all levels with skillful adjustments and posture modifications. She encourages her students to connect deeply with the breath while practicing with mindfulness, honesty and integrity.

Leave a Reply

14 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
susan kjesbo

I loved the connection to working on the computer along with the emphasis on down dog. Thanks for the trick in checking the ability of the shoulder to externally rotate as well as the dolphin variation. All good stuff!

Shelley Lambert

The Dolphin supinate pose is a revelation. I have taught yoga for a few years and now have this wonderful technique to train/retrain students towards the correct positioning for downward dog, and of course, can consider downward dog a less than desirable pose for those students who are not able to comfortably pass the assessment test.

Barbie Levasseur

Such a great review of what we did in training the other day! I’m excited to use the down dog readiness test and dolphin supinate as a teach tool, not only to prepare for downward facing dog, but for handstand too.

The Spin on the Infraspinatus | Yoga Tune Up

[…] Tune Up® Blog « Perplexing Peroneals: the ‘Gaitkeepers’ Integrating the Infraspinatus […]


Wow!! What a great tool!! This is so valuable! When I first started practicing I was constantly dumping into my shoulders! Being externally rotated makes you fire up areas in your body which are more stable like the serratus anterior


When I first began my yoga journey, having to hold Down Dog would really irritate me!! I was way too much in my shoulders, and my legs were doing enough work. Externally rotating my shoulders has helped tremendously. Now, holding Down Dog is like heaven. I feel a nice stretch in my shoulders and I find relaxing while working in the pose. This assessment is a great tool to have in my belt as a yoga teacher.

Lynda Jaworski

Oh Yes! This YTU shoulder assessment for Down Dog is an invaluable tool! It’s simple and makes perfect sense to students once we connect external rotation of the glenohumeral joint to shoulder stability and safe practice. And dolphin supinate is the perfect posture to drive this idea home – taking the forearm rotation out of the equation and focusing on the shoulder joint. I’ve had great enthusiastic response to this set – and the back of hand/thumb to floor assist!


Excellent! I have a mild scoliosis and it does lead to symmetry issues throughout my body. I used the method in the video in this blog and it was clear that the right shoulder is more unstable than the left. For me, awareness is critical and finding those tools to help makes such a difference. Thanks for providing some more tools!


This will be so useful! I find my downward dog feels different every day, as I get so many different instructions as to how to get my shoulders away from my ears and maintain safe support in these positions. I’m excited to use what I learn from my body in dolphin supinate!

Shaina Ferguson

This posed has changed my life! Seriously. I realized how much I’d been sinking into my shoulders and elbows and wrists in downward facing dog. Being able to experience dolphin supinate changed the way I approach my down dog. Now that I have felt what it is like to keep my shoulders protracted and depressed with the inner upper arms spinning forward, I am working harder, but more safely in my downward dog. Thank you!


This lesson has been SO enlightening for me and I have been teaching this to my students recently about the stability of the shoulders in external rotation.


Sarah Court was excellent, in helping me and my class use this technique. It’s still a bit hard for me on my right arm, but I am hopeful that with continued practice, I will achieve the desired goal….To make my body movements “legal”

Thank you.

joan katz

I have spent the weekend practicing dolphin supinate to improve my shoulder girdle alignment/ keeping the external rotation at shoulder for Adho Mukha Svanasana! Taking the 200 hr. TT. This instruction has improved this posture for me and will help me to teach student. Thanks!!

Diane Walters

I think this is a very useful trick. I will keep this in mind when I work with clients and notice tight shoulders.
Having spent 15 years in the computer field, my shoulders tend to be tight. I did test them using Jill’s suggestion and they are ok for down dog now. If I could go back 4 years , when I first started practicing, I wonder if I would have the same result.