How To Modify 4 Common Yoga Poses For Shoulder Injuries

We’ve all been there. You’ve been so into your practice that you accidently pushed yourself too far. Or, you are at the gym and overdo it with a shoulder workout.

No matter the cause, you now have to nurse a shoulder injury.

By now, you feel the benefits of your practice not only in your body but also in your mind. So how can you let your body heal without putting your practice on the backburner?

A Brief Glance at the Shoulders

Since the shoulders are ball-and-socket joints, they are one of the most mobile joints in our bodies. This ball-and-socket structure allows many different types of movement but also means the joint is at higher risk for injury.

For shoulder injuries there are two main concerns:

  1. Loss of mobility due to joint and connective tissue injuries like tendonitis
  2. Loss of strength due to injury to the surrounding muscles

First, you have to take note on where your sore shoulder stands on those fronts. Usually, the shoulder feels discomfort if the arm is raised above the head and if it bears weight.

This affects Downward Facing Dog (and variations thereof) as well as standing postures in which your arms are lifted, such as Warrior II and Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute). More obviously, arm balances will likely be too risky with shoulder injuries. But, don’t feel discouraged! Yoga has the power to heal.

So, learning some easy ways to modify postures that come up frequently in class means that you can stay with your practice on the mat and take care of your injury.

Here’s How to Modify 4 Common Yoga Poses for Shoulder Pain and Shoulder Injuries:

Here are some common postures you can modify on your own in any class so you can still find your zen on the mat!

Recommended Props: Although not necessary, we recommend the following props to support your modified practice:


1. Cobra Pose Modification: Baby Cobra

  • From lying prone on your belly, inhale to lift your chest and shoulders off of the mat
  • Keep length through your whole spine
  • Option to hover your hands an inch or so above the mat

Why this helps: This gentler variation keeps the weight out of your arms and focuses more on creating strength in the spine than mobilizing the shoulders.


2. Warrior II Modification: Hands to Hips


  • Find Warrior II legs by establishing a long stance with your front toes facing the top of your mat and your back toes roughly facing toward the side
  • To modify, place both hands on your hips instead of…

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