The shoulder joint is a shallow ball-and-socket joint, and it needs all the help it can to stay healthy. Compare it to the hip joint, which also is ball-and-socket but secured deeply with large muscles and tendons. Imagine wrapping your hand around a small tangerine—that’s the hip joint. Now try to wrap your hand around a cantaloupe. Shoulder socket. (‘Nuff said.)
I believe prevention is the best form of therapy. Yoga Tune Up® helps us to prevent (and heal) injuries by promoting healthy movement in our own unique bodies. We all have different strengths and weaknesses due to overuse, lack of use, injuries or accidents. Stress, genetic structure, habitual holding patterns and diet can cause imbalances too. Yoga Tune Up® illuminates our body blind spots in a fun, challenging and playful way, developing muscles and other tissues that might be less neurologically connected and informed, making us strong, safe and healthy on and off the mat.
Pranic Bath is a great Yoga Tune Up® dynamic movement to creates balance in the shoulder socket by taking the joint and all associated muscles through their full range of motion. I’ve included it below!
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thank you for your article it was very helpful
Merci pour l’analogie de la mandarine et de la cantaloups, belle analogie pour expliquer aux élève.J’adore l’exercice Pranic Bath, c’est un merveilleux réchauffement pour les épaules avant une pose maitresse ou les épaules sont impliquées.
Really excellent visual of the tangerine and canteloupe. I hadn’t considered those before. Thank you for making this easy (easier) to understand!
I dislocated my left shoulder a few years ago and never saw a professional for the healing process. I am about 85% healed and this morning in my first YTU class ever, the balls seemed to move tension out of rear deltoid and create space around the entire ball-and-socket joint, especially the coracoclavicular ligament.
I enjoy the dynamic work in Pranic Breath to see where my range of motion is today. This exercise is great circumduction movement and I love moving to the breath.
Thank you, Gwen (& Jill). You’re making me take a second look at the merits of Pranic Bath. Like Virabhadrasana II, it’s an easy one to pass over. But, like the Dancing with Myself Minivini, it really engages the full range of motion. : )
Yes I love this exercise…I do it very slowly then I increase the speed and see if there is any popping.
I have such tight shoulders all the time, sleeping, chronic habitual holding patterns and strong deltoids and trapezius muscles. I love pranic bath for my shoulders however I have to be careful or my Traps will be control freaks and take over everything.
I practiced the pranic bath for the first time yesterday and it was a great shoulder warmer for the other shoulder work to come. Thank you for the imagery of the shallow shoulder joint vs hip joint: wrapping your hand around a small tangerine verse a cantaloupe paints quite a picture. I knew the shoulder was a less stable join, but had no idea it was so different from the hip.
I’ve certainly strained and over-used my shoulders in a traditional vinyasa practice, so if there are easy interreventions like pranic bath to move my shoulders back to greater health I’m game. I certainly found a few body blind spots in performing the move that help to inform me on areas I need to focus.
Gwen, It’s interesting that you talk about the neurological connection that takes place with Pranic Bath. I definitely felt neurologically disconnected when I was asked to do this backwards. Doing Pranic Bath forward was fun and even felt exotic! Backwards on the other hand felt so awkward and challenging. I believe that’s a sign that I should do this more! Backwards!
What a great visual comparison between a cantaloupe and a tangerine. I am borrowing that one! Thank you!!
Great article! I was never quite aware of the scale of the shoulder joint to the hip joint. It is so fascinating and actually explains to an extent why a lot of hip pain is actually a chain reaction from shoulder issues as the shoulders are so much more vulnerable. I have started to do Pranic Bath every morning (if I don’t forget) and rotating my shoulders in all directions is really such an amazing way to start my day. It also eases some of the pain in an injured shoulder brought on by sleeping sometimes. Thanks again!
Gwen, thanks for highlighting the shoulder and sharing Pranic Bath Stretch as a tool to help prevent (and heal our shoulders). I gave it a try yesterday and found it surprisingly challenging…and pleasantly helpful.
Gwen, I agree that the Pranic Bath Stretch is fabulous. I came across this movement on You Tube and started to add it in to my fitness classes that I teach. All of my students love it and it was even more of a push in the direction of taking the Level 1 YTU training. When one simple move can leave people wanting more, that has to be a good thing right? 🙂
Love it! This is a great, fun way to get students to navigate their own shoulders, learn their own anatomy, understand their limitations, and find their possibilities. Also helps me as a teacher to identify what I need to watch out for. This dynamic motion warms up the shoulders and gets the circulation moving. It’s also a neat way to get them out of the boxana…picking up speed and reversing directions. All my students end up laughing by the end, so it also brings a smile to their faces as well as getting them to relax, let go and drop their expectations.
Love it! This is great for people who sit and type all day long, it offered such a nice release and I am going to make it a daily practice, doing it at intervals throughout the day. Thank you!
From the full range of motion in the shoulders, to the blood circulation promotion of this exercise, Pranic Bath’s benefits are easy to experience with just a few “trips around the block”. A quick and easy way to keep the shoulders healthy and happy. Do it in the morning, do it a lunch, and challenge yourself to try during your after dinner walk!
Great visual of the joints as tangerine vs. cantaloupe. Makes sense; I work in healthcare with a lot of physical therapists, and they always say “rehabbing” a hip is easier than a shoulder. If I’d known about all these integral muscles and tendons years ago, I may have been afraid to even leave my apartment! 😉 As a ballet dancer, I was always very strong and could always count on my body. Later on, working out made me happy because I usually excelled. When I think of all the things I did in my younger years — jumping rope, kick-boxing, boxing moves with light weights in Michael Olajide’s class — addicted. Add to that some aggressive adjustments by yoga instructors that were on automatic, and I’m amazed my shoulders have made it this far in tact. I can’t turn back the clock or odometer, but at least i’ll hopefully be shoulder-wiser (and kinder) going forward.
Thanks for the article, Gwen. I have been very carefully watching my yoga students in Plank and noticing how almost all of the students are carrying so much of their body weight in the joint. And it is not surprising that shoulder and wrist issues are very common in new students. In one recent class, out of some twenty students, three young women had shoulder issues. I believe this is compounded by the popularity of Ashtanga-based flow classes with multiple repetitions of sun salutations without adequately strengthening the shoulder girdle. Not that I have anything against sun salutations, only that they seem to be the norm even with students that are often not ready for so much stress on the shoulder. It has really got me thinking how much we use our joints instead of our muscles to carry the stress of our body weight. While this is one area that is easy to notice, of course, this extends to other key joints. Because so many students spend so much time on the computer, it is easy for them to ‘get’ that they often are tight across the front of the shoulders and weak across the back. Fortunately, there are many great YTU poses to build strength here. The results can be evident very quickly. After teaching a number of Shoulder Template classes in a week, my shoulders immediately felt stronger and in better postural alignment.
Thank you for both your written description and video that give me a new way to work with my shoulders. I normally hear a lot of popping in the joint when I raise my arms, but I noticed that I don’t with this exercise. I am a relatively new yoga teacher and so far I have used bands to stretch and work the joint, and that can be hard for me and my students. I could do this with relative ease and look forward to sharing it in class. As someone with chronic shoulder issues, my plan is to try working with it daily and pay attention to the effect it has on my “intense sensation.”
Have been teaching, and therefore demonstrating all the different shoulder exercises since my YTT in September. Then, the other day, went to teach Bridge arms, and told my client that I need to use a strap, as she would, because my hands would not clasp behind my back. As I said that, I went to clap behind me, show her i was tight and to my surprise- my hands clasped! Proof this work is amazingly effective if you work at it a bit everyday!
This video was really helpful in gaining movement and fluidity in my tight shoulders. My natural state is to have my shoulders protracted forward. The circumduction movement in this sequence really worked to increase the mobility of my shoulders and allowed the surrounding muscles to stretch with it. I instantly felt I had better posture and alignment in my cervical spine as well. Great postures to incorporate throughout the day when taking a break from the computer!
Pranic bath is maybe my desert pose. Not sure yet. Really focusing this week on shoulders and hips in the homework and loving these educational blogs. The description of the hand around a tangerine for the hip socket versus a hand around a cantaloupe for the shoulder joint is so very CLEAR. Thank you for that. I also love when I can teach something that targets many things at once. You can warm up the whole shoulder girdle with pranic bath means people will do it. They may not make it to an hour class that day but they could do pranic bath before they go into their business meeting. Better yet, they could teach it at the business meeting! Although, I wouldn’t advise that since it’s quite complicated until you get the hang of it. And reverse pranic bath, whoa, Nellie! That one is so great for focusing on something other than the mind chatter or monkey mind.
I love this! Thanks for sharing this, Gwen! I love the wonderful blend of circumduction, flexion, extension, internal and external rotations – talk about full range of motion! Not only is this an awesome exercise to strengthen these areas, but energetically, it’s a nice upper chakra cleanser, too! Sat Nam. 🙂
I love this. I have suffered from chronic shoulder/neck issues for a few years now and am always looking for tools and techniques for stretching and strengthening these muscles. I like that this exercise seems so simple but yet offers a complete range of motion for the shoulder muscles and lubrication of the joints. And it’s not using weights, which I also appreciate as I travel often and don’t always have access to weights. Lastly, I love the name! Thank you.
True, true, and true. I happen to do a lot of kettlebell workouts. I NEED these types of treatments to recover. Thanks for adding some more variety to my recovery strategies.
I love pranic bath I find it and epaulette arm circles perfect YTU poses for self care of the shoulders. they warm up the shoulders giving full range of motion to the muscles of the rotator cuff, when practicing this during yoga tune up training I can both feel and visualize the suprasinatus, infrasinatus, teres minor and subscapularus filling with fresh blood and warming the synovial fluid.
Pranic Bath is a great therapy move for the shoulders! As an added benefit, it creates heat throughout the body and works the upper back.
Pranic Bath is a wonderful warm-up exercise for the shoulders, it reminds me of a pose a yoga teacher taught in a class I took, she compared it to the blossom of a ltus.
It’s amazing how much heat can build up in the shoulders just by letting them dance! After a lot of chaturangas this exercise feels so good on the shoulders and releases any tension.
I have used this shoulder warm up in my class and as simple as it is, everyone found that doing it with increasing speed for just one full minute can really warm up the shoulders and arms and neck but also get the heart slightly elevated and breathe going. I like the fact that it has an organic, dance-like flow and once learned it can be done any time a wake up is needed.
I just learned this one and I really need this one. It’s provided a gentle stretch not to mention it’s kind of a nice stress relieving exercise. If only I knew what I know now at a younger age. Years of abuse on our joints take it’s toll and it does catch up to you. It makes it that much harder to take care of our bodies not to mention the damage that does not fix
I followed along as I watched the video, and I can’t believe how much better my shoulders feel after such a short exercise! I can also feel relief my my traps and scalene–particularly on my left shoulder, which I’m now starting to realize is one of my “blind spots.” I’m definitely including this in my daily practice from now on!
Thank you for posting this helpful video. These movements are easy enough for all of my students. So many of my students complain of shoulder pain. They often don’t think about prevention but rather they’ll continue practicing the same or make unconscious modifications to their poses – both of which can lead to more shoulder problems!
Wow, came across this after a long time at the computer and the pranic bath feels amaaaaaazing, also relaxing!
I love the pranic bath sequence! IThe full range of motion for the shoulders is so important and this is a simple, yet interesting way to hit flexion, extension, internal and external rotation, etc.. I can’t wait to introduce this in classes as i think people will really benefit from it. I know i will!
the shoulder joint needs movement! many of us stick to one specificwotkoutbecause itmay produce results. butby takingthe shoulder joint constantly through thesame motion we will allow the body to become weak in its other necessary ranges of motion. its human tendency to stuck to what we are good at but yoga tune up wil help you discover those blind spots and create a balance of flexible strength.
Shoulder flossing has become one of my go-to steps with most new clients. The aid of the strap allows them to find motion and sensation they haven’t felt in years, if ever.
Thanks for reminding me what a great tool Pranic Bath is too – I’ll be working this one in tomorrow morning!
Thank you for that descriptive and arresting visual of the tangerine and the cantaloupe, it really helps put things into perspective. I love the pranic bath sequence, it is so simple, and yet it takes the shoulders into flexion, abduction, extension, and adduction (or we could call it circumduction to be more precise) so that all the muscles around the glenohumeral joint get a chance to practice their different actions. Synovial fluid is dispersed throughout the joint capsule so the joint tissues get bathed in nutrients, and with steady practice, a healthy range of motion is restored in those of us who are tight and hunched forward over computers all day. Plus the rotator cuffs are getting a nice workout, so shoulder stability and strength is improved at the same time. What a perfect combination!
This is an amazing exercse that models many activities that we do in everyday life. It can be compared to washing your hair or putting your seatbelt on in the car! In downward dog many yogis are not correctly activating their scapula. This exercise teaches your scapula to retract (come together) and the protract (move away from each other. Teaching this excercise to students will allow them to see the difference between shoulder blades together (retraction) and shoulder blades away from each other (protraction). As a teacher you can reference this exercise when you want them to perform a specific shoulder action such as retraction of the scapula in downward dog.
I just learned the pranic bath exercise today and love it! I am struggling with a chronic neck/shoulder injury from landing directly on my head like a headstand on my mountain bike a few years ago and it just flared up the past few days and have been in a lot of pain and discomfort. I am taking the YTU training right now and our instructor Maura reviewed this today and amazing how it brings some movement into the shoulder girdle and can feel the synovial fluid starting to take action and the awareness that comes with this exercise. So many of us live our live with shoulders protracted internally rotated from driving, computers etc. promoting many neck and shoulder issues in our part of the world. Perhaps if we all did this exercise at least once a day and took a break we would see far less chronic shoulder issues. Also energetically this is the land of responsibility so bringing prana and movement and getting those connective tissues some attention can help us deal with letting go of some of the responsibility that is not ours to hold. Thanks!
Sitting in front of a computer for hours, and doing this is just Super! Thank you so much.
Too many unproperly aligned downward facing dogs! Thanks for sharing this video! Helpful!
I have very tight shoulders and working with the therapy balls has done great things for me! I love the video explanation and doing this exercise released tension within the first few cycles. Afterwards, I could take much deeper breaths! Such a simple solution!
This is awesome – after a long day lugging bags around, this does the trick!
I loved the video! What a wonderful way to mindfully explore the range of the shoulders (and release some tension)! After today’s brief discussion with Owen about the shoulder socket and reading the article (and it’s vivid cantaloupe analogy) , I have a new found respect for my shoulders and will definitely become more mindful about the way I move them in my asana practice.
This looks like a great exercise for both aesthetics (nice toned arms) and to relieve tension in my shoulders. After trying it myself, I also felt my back losen up as well. Between this and the head/neck exercises, I am going to have one strong upper body!
Wow – as someone who has struggled with weak shoulders for a very long time this exercise is awesome! I plan to utilize this as part of my routine as it certainly requires all aspects of the arm and I feel a definite difference in my shoulder mobility after several reps. Also – i love the cantaloupe analogy!
This exercise is surprisingly challenging. I personally have several shoulder issues and I think this will help a lot with stabilizing my joints.
That is definitely true. My shoulders are my worst injury slash enemy! As a figure skater, I never realized how much pressure I was putting on themespecially around my scapula or chicken wings:) Yoga actually helped me identify that and learn to take proper care of them!