Intense contraction of the rhomboids is essential for strengthening and Long Head of the Triceps does just that. By bringing the shoulder blades into full retraction on the upper back (watch for this cue at 0.34 in the video clip below), the alignment of this exercise demands that the rhomboids overdo their job, therefore bringing strength to the weakened muscle while dramatically stretching the pectoral muscles and challenging the cervical spine to retain its arrangement over the pelvis in spite of the tendency to jut the chin forward. Finding an aware tadasana stance after the practice of this pose can illuminate the balance between strong rhomboids and open pectorals, as well as imprint proper posture. Practicing this YTU pose will inform the body of the strength and stretch available in these muscle pairs and, over time, will bring the upper back into balance, enabling the upper arms to reside alongside the body, the spine to roll its curves out naturally and the breath to reach down into an open and supple chest – lifting the physical and energetic body upward into correct and inspired posture.

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Kate Krumsiek

From the start, the practice of yoga did it all for me – fitness, awareness, breath, alignment and clarity of mind. My YogaWorks 200 hour training, with the divine Natasha Rizopolous, provided an exceptional foundation of yogic knowledge from which to learn, teach and cast a wide net for continued study. Yoga Tune Up teacher training refined my lens of understanding to shine it upon the anatomical and corrective aspects for practice – helping students, alongside myself, identify and address postural habits that impair efficient, effective movement in the body. Smooth joints, lean muscles and boosted proprioception make each visit to the mat an individualized, satisfying and fun exploration of the human body in motion and stillness.

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Marie-Eve

Nice exercice for taking shoulders on their place spécifically when you have a round back. Thank you !

Ella

Thank you Kate, what a simple yet powerful exercise. It’s a great one for the weakened and stretched out back muscles. Activating the Rhomboids so strongly feels great after sitting in front of a computer, reaching forward for the keyboard all morning.

Noelle Carvey

I am fascinated and loving exploring this new knowledge of giving the muscles their duty of full contraction in order to actually release them, and subsequently build back up strength along with range of motion. I just started incorporating this move. I’m so excited for the real progress.

Brittany Brie

It’s nice to see that we don’t always have to add weights to what we are doing to contract our muscles.
I’m loving the awareness we get about our alignment through this exercise.

Alison Ahmoye Buchanan

This exercise looks so simple, but is really super challenging! Especially, when we close the chain and press the fingers against the wall. It wasn’t until I watched Jill’s video that I realized the great proprioception work involved when the hands are in space and we try to reach the thumbs together while lifting the arms higher. Great info! Thanks!

Hannah

That looks interesting to try. Good propioception exercise and stretch.

alexandra breault

oh à mettre dans mes cours, merci

Elise

WOW !!! Excellente pose pour activer les rhomboïdes et ramener les épaules à leur place ! En tant qu’infirmière, je passe plusieurs heures à écrire dans des dossiers ou faire des techniques nécessitant de la minutie, mes épaules sont souvent vers l’avant et ma tête aussi. Cet exercice me procure un soulagement instantané au niveau du cou, je sens mon thorax s’étirer, un grand bienfait ! Je vais inclure cette pose dans mes exercices régulièrement !

Merci

Claire

Love, love, love this exercise in the video, ahh it feels so good after a long day at the computer! I’m taking this technique to my class tomorrow I know everyone will love it!!
Thanks so much!!!

Thu Maraia

Such a great warm up for our shoulders, which is over used, everyday, from lifting, to just sitting and even standing with correct posture. I noticed how my ribs and thoraxic cavity tend to contract when I bring my arms in an extension behind my shouldes. This insight will hep me balance my body and pay more attention of my posture and every day walking also.

Sara

I am happy to learn that this can help strengthen the triceps. I am always looking to bring tone to my triceps. I can also see how it helps with posture.

Emiliya Zhivotovskaya

Wow! I love this one. I definitely have winged scapulas and have a lot of mobility. So what I had previously been doing to strengthen the rhomboids was over retracting my shoulders into a locked position. I really like this exercise. I only held it for the duration of the video and my arms are still warm. What a highly efficient little movement! I also loved Jill’s comment about the long head of head of the tricep. I thought I was the only one that was self-conscious about that body part. Body-shaming no more!

Stacey Rosenberg

I am so glad I learned to start a shoulder stretch this way – thinking about strengthening as well as stretching. I don’t think I will ever just do that passive stretch again but it certainly feels great to close the chain and clasp the hands after I have done this!

Isabelle Barter

Just tried this one out and I feel an incredible difference in my posture. I have more external rotation in the shoulders and feel a sense of open across the chest as the pec minors have just been lengthened. I am also feeling my latissimus dorsi muscles doing their share of the work to draw the shoulder blades down my back .

Betsy

After practicing this today, I can feel the long head of my triceps and rhomboids like never before! As a yoga teacher, I look forward to introducing this to some of my students who seem to be chronically protracted and internally rotated in their shoulder joints (Ie: mothers, those with desk jobs, older women, and self defense athletes). Coupling this with YTU ball rolling of the internal rotators at the GH should make a world of difference in their day to day posture as well as their yoga postures and over all health. Thanks for sharing your insight!

David Bateman

I think my only issue with the way you said this is the word “overwork” like it is a good thing for the rhomboids to do this. To me if you are looking at it from a therapeutic perspective, there should be ways to even modify the pose so that rhomboids are engaged and pecs are being lengthened, but not to the point of overloading something that can’t fire adequately in that position in the first place. Strength can be generated with a low amount of force as well.

Angie

I am a pre/postnatal yoga instructor and so often I see these poor mamas pulled forward in the upper chest with shortened pectoral muscles and constant internal rotation at the shoulder joint. This pattern can begin in pregnancy and the added relaxin in the system doesn’t help, especially if this is a position the body is already used to being in. Add to that the position we take on while feeding baby, there seems to be this innate body posture that we take on when we are protecting such precious cargo, as if we are huddling over baby. In just… Read more »

Christine Colonna

Strong rhomboid are important but creating balance in the shoulder girdle is necessary too. Many people suffer from impingement syndromes of the shoulder due to overactive rhomboids which downwardly rotate the scapula. Strong upper traps and serratus ant are also necessary to create a balanced posture and ensure correct scapula movement with shoulder flexion and abduction activities.

John Menist

With all of the shoulder issues I’ve dealt with in the past, I am always looking for new ways to increase my strength in the supporting areas to relieve any pains that occur, and this exercise is perfect to add to my repertoire! And it’s so interesting to me that by recruiting your triceps in this exercise, you are able to further contract your rhomboids and increase strength in that area to relieve tension in the shoulders and open your chest further.

Thanks for the info Kate!

Cait

Once again, further proof that our bodies are incredibly interconnected. It’s amazing that to target the tricep you can focus on the rhomboid. As mentioned, this is also logically key for good posture, as the way Jill opens up the chest seems like it will counter the curving of the chest many of us experience while at our desk jobs.

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Susan

Greatly appreciate the strengthening aspect of this post. Too often yogis focus too much on the lengthening and forget to include strengthening also. thanks!!

Janet

This comes at an incredibly important time, as I just found out the nerve to the long head of my triceps is submitting a very weak signal. Opening up space for that nerve to work by using this exercise is going to help me, I think. Thank you so, so much.

Nancy

Introducing proprioception to my class tonight ! This will be a beauty, unless they have eyes in the back of their heads ! Thanks . Nancy

katie

This one has always been one of my favorites from Jill! Your commentary on it helps me understand it more…I’ve always been one who wants to know “why”. Great blog.

mimi martel

definitely one to recommend to all desk workers … where the rhumboids are lock long, shoulders internally rotated and pecs lock short! even better if they do a bit of rolling before hand !
the fact that this is an open chain movement definitely bring the full awareness to the muscles more than the joint as when you do it with interdigital hands like in prasarita C!

Helen McAvoy

Love it!!! Proprioception…mmmm!