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Lori's Common Yoga Teacher Cues That Need Composted: #1

First in a series 
Lori's Common Yoga Teachers Cues That Need Composted:

"As you lift your arms up, slide your shoulder blades down."

I am including a picture here of what the natural movement of your shoulder blade is and should be when you lift your arms up. Your shoulder blade rotates to assist the lift of the humerus (arm bone). This action also moves the acromion process out of the way (the flat topped, bony projection at the highest point of the shoulder). So a more accurate cue would be to allow the lateral edge (outer) shoulder blades to ascend and the medial edge (inner) shoulder blade to descend as you lift your arm. But very few students can grasp that level of detail. 

So what do I suggest so students don't "grip" the neck when they lift their arms? I don't cue the shoulder blades at all. I let them go where they want when the arms lift. I focus more on the tissues of the upper back and neck. That is what you don't want to lift. So a better cue would be:

"Inhale and lift your arms up. Now exhale and soften/release the skin of the upper back and neck down."

Try this in your own practice to feel it for yourself, then try it with your students.