In this article I wanted to take a closer look at the anatomy of shoulders and how we can use this knowledge to keep safe in Chaturanga Dandasana – a pose sometimes seen as the culprit of many yoga injuries. We’ll begin with a run-through of the main muscles around the shoulder, how they can end up being misaligned, and how to use the muscles to integrate the shoulder joint to keep it healthy and safe in  yoga practice.

Who’s in the shoulder ?tree bone and lots of muscles !

Let’s start with a bit of anatomy. While the hip joint is designed for its stability, the shoulder girdle is known more for its mobility. It is a spacious, shallow joint made up of three bones:

  1. Scapula (shoulder blade)
  2. Clavicle (collar bone) and
  3. Humerus (upper arm bone).

There are many different muscles at work in the shoulder girdle; either holding the three bones together or moving them. We can group these into three categories:

 Rotator cuff muscle –These muscles attach the upper arm bone into the joint created by the collar bone and the shoulder blade. They also move the arm sideways away from the body (as if flapping a wing) and rotate the arm in two different directions.

Muscle that move the humerus bone  (but are not attached to the scapula),and 

Muscle that move the scapula


Rotator cuff muscles

-Supraspinatus  ; main action (humerus abduction ), Example (lift your arms out to the side.

Infraspinatus & Teres minor ; main action (humerus external rotation), Example (twist your arms with your knuckles facing backward)

-Subscapularis ; main action (humerus internal rotation), Example (twist your arms with your knuckles facing forward.

Muscles that move the humerus bone (but are not attached to the scapula

-Pectoralis Major ; Main action (abduction of humerus in flexed position, Example (start with your arms straight out in front & bring your palms together)

-Latissimus  ; Main action (adducting humerus to side body , Example (with your arms out in a T shape lower them to your side

-Lateral Deltoid ; Main action (adduction of humerus [with supraspinatus]), Example (with your arms at your sides,raise them to T shape)

-Anterior Deltoid ; Main action (Flexion of humerus) , Example (with your arm by your sides raise them up in front of you

-Posterior Deltoid ; Main action (extension of humerus) , Example (with your arms by your sides bring them behind you)

Muscles that move the scapula

-Pectoralis ; Main action (interior and inferior tipping of scapula[if the ribs not moving]) Example (tilting the top of the shoulder forward and down)

-Serratus Anterior ; Main action (protraction of scapula), Example (forward rounding of the shoulders)

-Levator Scapula & upper trapezius ; Main action (elevaton of scapula),Example (lifting the shoulder to ears)

-Rhomboid & Mid trapezius ; Main action (retraction of scapula), Example (drowning the shoulder blades toward each other)

-Lower Trapezius ; Main action (depression of scapula), Example (pressing your shoulde

Common habitual patterns and shoulder misalignments

Due to the fact that most of modern-day society lives in the flexion portion of the (think driving, sitting, typing etc) we can experience a lot of imbalance between pairs of muscles eventually leading to misalignments in the body. The muscles on the front body become “tight” as in limited in their range of motion.

Working on computers for too long without breaks can lead to tight, locked-short pectorals and serratus anterior muscles, which then leads to tight, locked-long rhomboids, mid and lower trapezius muscles on the back. The accumulated years of typing can eventually lead to tight, locked-short internal rotators (subscapularis) and tight, locked-long external rotators (infraspinatus).

Hunching up our shoulder because of stress and/or cold weather can lead to tight, locked-short upper trapezius and tight, locked-long lower trapezius.

Added to this, unless we take up activities like climbing or rowing we have far fewer pulling than pushing actions in our daily lives. This can also lead to weak rhomboids and latissimus dorsi muscles.

All of these habitual patterns can eventually lead to imbalance and instability in the body, putting yogis at a higher potential risk of injury if they are not acknowledged and worked with. This is especially so when practicing repetitive weight-bearing poses, such as Chaturanga dandasana(Four-limb Staff pose, (Side Plank), Bakasana(Crow pose) and (Handstand).

Applying this knowledge to chaturanga dandasana

Shoulder joint integration : 4 key muscle for  chaturanga dandasana ;

The four main muscles are:

  • Latissimus dorsi draws the humerus in so that the head of the humerus can be in line with the distal end (the elbow joint),
  • Infraspinatus externally rotates the head of the humerus in the joint socket (plugging it in),
  • Serratus anterior protracts the scapula wide onto ribcage, and;
  • Lower trapezius depresses the scapula (taking the shoulders away from the ears). This dance between these four muscles is a complicated, yet so rewarding one when done with awareness and executed deliberately with the aide of the breathe.

What is Rhomboid in chaturanga dandasana?

I hear my yoga teachers teach students to engage the rhomboids when performing Chaturanga Dandasana, but rhomboids are adductors/retractors of the scapula and encourage the experience of “backbending” in the thoracic spine People are literally dumping into their chests in Chaturanga (with elbows winged far out) and shredding their shoulder connective tissue in the process.

Engaging the muscle fibres of the rhomboids, along with mid-trapezius, does effectively help to stretch the pectoralis major muscles. And in backbends the rhomboids are perfect agonists to stretch the antagonists of the pectorals. In Chaturanga Dandasana though, we don’t want to be backbending while hovering parallel to the floor as the chest will dip below the head of the humerus or the ribs come below the parallel upper arm. This puts too much pressure on the sternoclavicular and the acromioclavicular ligaments.

Instead, it is best to focus on stretching/releasing the tight pectoralis minor by actively engaging the lower trapezius muscle fibres. These draw the scapula down the back towards the hips – helping to free the clavicle area of unnecessary and possibly injurious tension and compression.

 So the full version of the cue would be “activate and engage the latissimus dorsi to bring the elbow in line with the head of the humerus!” and then follow with “plug upper arms into their socket with infraspinatus, draw shoulders away from ears with lower trapezius, and broaden shoulder blades across back with serratus anterior muscles”.


What is Pranayama and the benefits

Pranayama is the fourth limb of the eight limbs of yoga, pranayama in Sanskrit words means:

Prana = life force; Ayama = to extend, draw out or control.

Breathing is a very normal part of life and we often forget to pay attention to it. The body naturally holds the breath whenever it feels physically or emotionally challenged.

Pranayama has taught me the correct way to breathe, which is slowly and with deep breaths. Breathing this way brings more oxygen into the body and activates the reduction of stress and slows the heart rate. So with better breathing it can help to either calm or excite the entire nervous system.

The practice of breathing exercises can help improve our wellbeing:  Inhale, exhale and hold the breath in specific sequence in yoga pranayama is very useful with regular practice, and help the physical and meditation part.

Pranayama involves different breathing examples;

1. Nadishodhana (Alternate nostril breathing). Sitting in cross legged position comfortably, then using the right hand, one close the right side of the nose while inhaling deeply with the left nostril ,and repeat the right nostril too. Practicing this technique deeply for 10-15 time will help purifying the energy of the body and bring balance to the mind, body and soul of the human body and help in relieving stresses and anxiety.

2. Ujjayi pranayama.
Breathing through the mouth while sitting in cross legged position, after closing the mouth, breathing should be done through the nose constricting the throat. This should be done for 10-15 times.  It can give great relaxation and also help in throat issues and help reduce anxiety.

3. Kapalabhati pranayama.
Exhale from the lunge and inhaling is done. The exhalation should be suck the belly in realising the air. The same way when inhaling the belly go back the same position, usually kapalabhati done for warm up.This cycle of inhalation and exhalation should be done for few minute.this type of pranayama benefitical in strengthening and abdominal muscle.also help increasing focus,reducing anxiety and burning calories.

The benefits of pranayama are;

1. Decreases stress
2. Improves sleep quality
3. Increases mindfulness
4.Reduces high blood pressure
5.Improves lung function
6.Reduces cravings, such as cigarettes


Yoga Philosophy

The Main Philosophy of yoga is very simple, it is about mind, body, and spirit that are all as one and can’t be clearly separated. The philosophy of yoga gives us a plan to follow, which leads us to be happy, healthy and peaceful life. Happiness that transforms to deep and long lasting for healthy that keep our body and mind vital and vibrant.Peace that not only whiting ourselves but also with the world.

With the philosophy of yoga we are creating a physical, mental and emotional harmony. We practice physical pose, breathing techniques and meditation to become a better human being and positive light. We want more calm to a stressful situation as getting frustrated in any situation is not good. By calming and quieting the loud of voice of the ego we gain inner clarity this awareness within, remain open, kind, honest, even with those that have caused pain.

Mindfulness is important and in a yoga class I learn to do yoga poses, I will be instructed to notice my breathing and the way my body move during the exercise. The foundation of mind body connection is key. A well-balanced set of yoga exercises gives me the opportunity to understand my body, noting how I feel as move through the poses and may begin to realise for example: one side of my body feel different than the other side during stretching or maybe easier to balance on right leg or that certain poses help ease tension in neck. Learning to be aware of posture when walk, for example; first step to making improvements that will make move more easily and feel better all the time.

Effect of Yoga on Muscular System

My yoga journey in 2020😔,but I not exactly remember what the date or month, but I remember I go to yoga class with a stiffness or muscle tightness from a high impact workout.Before yoga, I was really into normal fitness and at that time yoga wasn’t offered in my fitnesses club. I been lookinh for years something (anything) that wouldn’t stress my whole body. My first class attended was calm yoga class and it was a true waking for me ,I left the class feeling lighter, calmer and it healed me;physically,mentally,and emotionally and make my day! I felt so gratefull.
Yoga is good for holistic well-being period, for those whose believe in rigorous workout & sweeting it out.Have to agree that yoga is more effective than any workout at the gym, it has lots of benefit, with range from mental health and muscle. The efforts of yoga on Muscular system it’s more than being a from of exercise it change the body cellular level.
Yoga balance for entire body from muscular skeletal the organ and system and balance around the joint, similarly make me more flexible, yoga brings more space to my body. Provides a peaceful mind and healthy body.  I believe yoga is responsible for altering the fluidity in the body there by reducing any stiffness. More yoga and more movement-less diseases. Doing yoga regularly makes you able to feel change almost immediately,it’s feel more space in the body and reduce the risk of heart disease, improve lower back pain, improve of asthmatic and reduce anxiety too.

I realised the other day that I started my consistent yoga practice, I always come to yoga class like Vinyasa yoga feeing happy. Day after day, month after month,  I really enjoy yoga practice, I am so happy and I can feel little bit more flexible than before.I ask my yoga teacher, I want learning more about yoga,and She recommend me to join at Tirisula Yoga, the next Week I’m decided to join the course YTT 200 hours ,and in here I am learning a lot of new things that I can’t explain one by one . I’m don’t  know what is Yoga philosophy before?
I’m so please I’m learning/studying here at Tirisula yoga course,I learning lots new things.and also I meet lots amazing people this group class.