All this month in my 6:30AM yoga classes, we’re focusing on creating more awareness of the muscles in our upper backs that support our shoulder blades and necks.

Two days in, here’s what we’ve learned … this shit is hard.

Our lives happen in front of us — computers, phones, driving, walking, conversations with the ones we love, arguments with people we can’t stand — it all leads us to be pretty good at having our arms in front of us, resting in our pants pockets, and occasionally out to the sides.

But your shoulders are the most complicated joints in your body — like a very sophisticated tension system. And the lifestyle many of us have cause significant imbalance in the ways we use the muscles that support our shoulders. Bottom line: they need more maintenance and movement than we typically give them.

Even those of us who work out regularly tend to neglect certain movements that work these muscles — after all, they’re on our backs so we don’t see them in the mirror like we do our biceps, chest, and the front and sides of our shoulders.

But vanity aside, these muscles we don’t see or engage regularly are critical to the health of our shoulders and necks. And as our lifestyles and gravity pull us further into rounding forward, work here to maintain balance becomes even more important.

So today, I’m sharing two movements that, when done consistently, can help keep your shoulders healthy as well as ease tension in your neck and upper back. Check out the video HERE.

The important thing in both is to keep your upper traps and neck as relaxed as possible (they will REALLY want to “help” out). Start with super light resistance and think about drawing the inner edges of your shoulder blades together on your back to initiate the movements.

Worry less about range of motion and focus more on activating the muscles in your upper bak around your shoulder blades. Let the movement be small to start and learn to isolate these muscles rather than pressing back using your arms or chest.

Try these moves out and let me know if you find them as challenging as I do. So simple yet so so tough.

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