Spot on Handstand Asana in Ashtanga Yoga
In kind of western anatomical language – Yoga Handstand asana
Once you are up in Full Arm Balance, draw the shoulders away from the ears (in fact this is also for standing asana. in order to be stronger in the “middle”) by engaging the lower third of the trapezius.
Then on your inhalation, gently attempt to drag the hands apart. Visualize the serratus anterior expanding the chest (or diaphragm moving just up and down while stabilizing the chest). Be sure to check out how to balance the forearms and wrists in this pose and also in Downward Facing Dog – it means no pressure on the wrists, the fingertips are basically pushing the floor away.
Are there anatomical limitations in the Yoga Handstand asana?
Limitation at any of the joints forming the shoulder can impair movement. For this we can look into shoulder anatomy: The most mobile joint in the body is the shoulder. Actually a combination of four separate joints: the glenohumeral, acromioclavicular, sternoclavicular and scapula-thoracic joints – here all four joints contribute to shoulder movement in a “chain”-fashion, so the movement occurs via a combination of individual joints. So the limitation can be weakness, arthritis or injury in one of the joints.
Serratus Anterior in Handstand and other asana
Let emphasis on the Serratus Anterior (Serratus A). It is one of the more mechanically bizarre muscles, as it has two jobs to perform.
Muscle serratus anterior (Serratus A.)
- Fixing the shoulder area
- Rotate Scapula to lateral ventral
- Elevation (>90°) breathing support!
The Serratus A. connects to the side ribs and runs under the scapula to the medial edge. You have to use your imagination, but picture the Rhomboids contracting and the Serratus A. contracting. Due to the insertion at the edge of the scapula, it levers it down onto the ribcage – This for stable shoulders is what we want in most cases.
The exact degree of protraction or retraction will depend on how much each muscle is pulling; but in any case, they will both pull against each other to fix the scapula.
It is no wonder movement like push-ups can be hard on the shoulders when you think of all the coordination and strength required.
Scapula in the Handstand and other asana
There are four basic scapula movements: retraction, protraction, elevation and depression. (I believe the scapula may have other movements, but I am not sure)
- Retraction — when the scapula come together
- Protraction — when the scapula move apart
- Elevation — when the scapula move upwards to the ears
- Depression — when the scapula move down
Conclusion Handstand and shoulder
As a general rule retract your shoulders when pulling and protract when pushing. You do not have to stay protracted / retracted during the entire movement. For example in a pull up at the bottom range of motion your scapula will be elevated and protracted but as you pull yourself up your scapula should retract and depress.
A really great way to think about how to move your scapula is to push your scapula towards whichever way gravity is trying to take you, or think of putting your scapula between which way you came from and the direction you’re moving.
Examples: (Relative from your position in space)
- During a dip gravity is pulling from below so depress your scapula, or move your scapula down so your body goes up.
- During a row gravity is pulling from behind so retract, or move your scapula back so your body goes forward.
- During a pushup gravity is pulling from the front so protract, or move your scapula forward so your body goes back.
- During a handstand pushup gravity is pulling from above so elevate, or move your scapula up so your body goes down (toward feet). Etc.
Link to interesting Photos and Input: http://barmethod.com/blog/the-most-neglected-muscle-during-exercise-the-serratus-anterior/