One year ago when I was skiing with family, a simple fall onto my ski pole broke my humerus in half just below the shoulder joint, shortening my arm by two centimeters.
Surgery the next day introduced 12 screws and an 8”-inch metal plate into my body. Luckily the surgeon was able to stretch apart my pectoral and shoulder muscles to access the bone, to preserve my muscle tissue. An old friend of mine quipped: “Won't this affect your Downward Dog?” The thought had certainly crossed my mind.
I started physical therapy immediately, and for the first couple of months I focused on swinging my arm like a pendulum, internal and external rotation exercises, and rowing. If I didn’t keep my rotator cuff moving, it could “freeze.”
At about three months, when the pain was finally manageable, I began to reintroduce some yoga moves to compliment the regimen. Whether you've sustained an injury or not, these following exercises help keep the shoulder lubricated, open the chest (pectoral muscles) and strengthen and tone the arms.
Here are eight of my favorite shoulder and chest openers.
Be sure to warm up with Cat/Cow and/or Sun Salutations before you begin, and do each pose on both sides of your body.