with contributions by Keith Wittenstein. Special thanks to Sarah Court, Dinneen Viggiano and Trina Altman for editing and feedback

This article is Part 6 of 6 in a series on shoulder biomechanics.


In the previous installments of this series, I discussed the anatomy and mechanics of healthy shoulder movement and how the cues we’ve been passed down (and pass along) do not always do a service to the biomechanics of the shoulder joint.

Here is a Yoga Tune Up® video teaching an upper back and shoulder blade self-massage using Yoga Tune Up® therapy balls. To help mobilize the shoulder blades, self-massage can be an extremely effective way to untangle trigger points and adhesions in the muscles and soft tissues to free up movement of the bones they attach to. It’s also an incredible way to alleviate those hard to reach knots and relax the echo chamber of mind-body tension that builds and reverberates in and around the levator scapulae and upper trapezius.


Enjoyed this? Read Reset Your Shoulders with Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls

Laurel Beversdorf

Laurel Beversdorf is an international yoga and interdisciplinary movement educator specializing in anatomy, biomechanics and yoga teaching pedagogy. She is an integrated Yoga Tune Up® teacher and trainer, the creator of Body of Knowledge™ Anatomy and Biomechanics workshop series, Yoga with Resistance Bands classes, and a senior teacher and trainer at YogaWorks in New York City. Laurel is committed to raising the bar on the content and quality of yoga education. She teaches in order to help her students reclaim and strengthen a sense of power and belonging in their bodies, the bodies through which they share their gifts and transform the world. http://www.laurelbeversdorf.com

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First of all…the title…Uplifting News for Depressed Shoulders…LOL! I love it! This has literally changed my daily life. I was living with pain for a long long time 3+ years. This is something that I love sharing with students because I know how much it helps! Thanks!

Jess Blake

I love this sequence and can’t wait to practice it between classes today! Thanks for following up this series on depressed shoulders with such a relevant practice! I also appreciate Jill’s cuing and putting the movements into an appropriate context for a new mama!

Diana Azavedo

Thanks so much Laurel, this has been an amazing journey going through the freedom of movement in the scapula-thoracic-AC – humerous joint areas. From the transmission of Yoga down the lineages to the importance of understanding the cure of shoulders down to upward rotation of scapula to trapezius and its function and finally a lovely way to wrap it all up with these physical movements to work the upper back. great useful tips and tricks to use for myself and for class.

Tara Lazanis

This is another amazing rolling sequence which helps undo the long hours I sit at a desk. On top of it, I recently found out that I clench my teeth when I sleep so I know that I have a very tense jaw. All 5 ball rolling exercises are ones that I do on a daily basis and the ones I also show to my co-workers to use to help them undo all of that internal shoulder rotation, and neck pain from bad desk posture- in fact I just showed it to someone who felt so much immediate relief that… Read more »

Ranghild Helmberger

After an injury – I fell on my shoulder very hard – nobody can help me really and never long lasting. Only rolling with the balls helped me and I can lift my arm more and more up and in total the movement of my arm increases a lot. Thanks for the article and the video.

Linda Zanocco

I did the short rolling sequence because of a “cranky” left shoulder. In 6 minutes of rolling I felt absolutely no pain!


Following along with this video was the best 8 minutes of my day so far. I felt like jello on the floor by the end. Thank goodness for the Yoga Tune Up therapy balls and the many brilliant teachers who guide us to find new ways to use them.

Rick Widdifield

Using the balls has taught me so much about my shoulders. It really has increased my somatic awareness of where my shoulder blades are and how much they can move when things are sliding and gliding as they should. Thanks for taking the time to break this complex collections of joints, muscles and connective tissue down for us and also getting us to think about some very commonly used cues that we should probably avoid or, at the very least, refine.

Heather Longoria

This will be a great sequence for my corporate yoga class. Whenever I ask my students what they would like to work on, 90% of the time they say neck and shoulders. Integrating the jaw rolling would be very eye opening to them as I think most of us carry a lot of tension in our jars without realizing it. Thank you for sharing the link!

Jill Dunkley

I really appreciate this series. thanks Laurel. Nice to come round full circle to the ball therapeutics for the shoulders and upper back.

Matthew Luna

Very interesting article. Not only this one, but the entire article. I found it very informative on how shoulder flexion really works and the involvement of multiple joints ( something many of us are unaware of ) Very useful and I will work on implementing this knowledge on myself and on the individuals I work with.

eneida cardona

I have so much neck and shoulder tension this video is so helpful. I work a desk job now which is terrible for my shoulders and neck, but I think my issues with my shoulders came from my posture after nursing both my kids. my body has not been the same since.

Dennis Hunter

This is very helpful for me, as I tend to have a chronically tight and constricted shoulder girdle on both sides. I think at least part of the problem stems from tightness in the pectoral muscles and anterior deltoid, which pull my entire shoulder complex forward into “hunched over laptop syndrome.” I would like to combine some ROM exercises for the posterior portions of the shoulder with some stretching and lengthening for the anterior portions. Does that sound like a logical plan? – Dennis

Patricia Donnellan

I did something to the muscle right next to my shoulder blade this morning and have been in pain all day. I just pulled out my Tune Up Balls and put on this video. Finished 4 of the exercises and I feel so much better! Thank you.


Thank you so much for your 6 part serie for the shoulders. I enjoyed learning the mechanics of my shoulders. The rolling with the yoga tune up therapy balls feels very intense for me therefore teaching me even more on how my muscles are tight and overworked! I definately will practice to rotate my scapula upward and will roll out all these tensions once and for all.


This was a great blog to post with the video of Jill showing these Yoga Tune-Up techniques for the upper back and shoulders. I have used this series with many of my clients prior to doing additional mobility and stability work. It is an easy sequence for them to learn so they can do it at home. It definitely helps to hydrate and awaken proprioceptors that may have been fascially bound up.

Debra Forselius

Laurel, thank you so much for this series. I learned so much, for myself and to help my clients and a friend I work with that like myself has shoulder pain and suffers from headaches too. Loved your words of relax the echo chamber of the mind body tension. Debra


Laurel, thank you so much for this whole series! I’ve enjoyed reading all of it and have learned lots of useful things. Now that I understand the mechanics of the shoulder joint better, I know how to correct my own yoga practice to avoid the pain I always felt with the “lift your arms while lowering your shoulder blades” and I know how to cue my students to help them. I also have some great ideas for using the YTU therapy balls to help prevent migraines.