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Yoga and Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is also known as adhesive capsulitis. A person with adhesive capsulitis has inflammation of the shoulder joint. The inflammation causes joint stiffness and decreased range of motion of the joint. As the condition worsens, the range of motion in the shoulder significantly reduces. It is as if you stitched the folds of a tablecloth, you wouldn't be able to open the cloth up to its full size. Diabetes, shoulder trauma (including surgery), a history of open-heart surgery, hyperthyroidism and a history of cervical disk disease are all associated with an increased risk of this problem.


The shoulder is the most movable joint in the body. However, it is an unstable joint because of its range of motion. It is made up of three bones which are connected by muscles, ligaments and tendons. The round end of the upper arm bone (humerus) fits into a shallow groove on the shoulder blade (scapula). The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. It is easily subjected to injury because the ball of the upper arm is larger than the shoulder socket that holds it. Generally socket is a little bigger than the size of the ball so that the ball can fit inside the socket and easily move around. One way of visualising this joint is to think of a golf ball on a tee. The exercise of moving shoulder up and down, forward and backward, arms rotation in a circular motion or hinge out and up away from the body are very important to keep the shoulder mobile.


The exercises below are a boon for frozen shoulder & neck pain. These help you to restore full & pain free range of motion and functions of your shoulder. The good thing about these exercises is that these involve easy & slow stretching movements which also help you to focus on your body. This focus will help you to pay attention to your body and any pain that may come from the stretching. It helps to warm up your shoulders and their smooth movement. It is important to be careful, patient and persistent. Initially do these exercises multiple times a day by connecting body, breath & mind. These will bring positive energy into the shoulders.


These exercises can be done in standing or sitting .You may sit in a sofa or chair if unable to sit on ground in Vajrasana.

1. Keep your arms at the sides, keep them straight and loose. Lift the shoulders up and then bring them down. There should not be any jerky movement. Do it for 8-10 times. Take deep inhalation while lifting the shoulders. Exhale when the shoulders are brought down.

2. Rotate the shoulders girdle initially clockwise for 8-10 times and then anti clockwise for 8-10 times while keeping the arms relaxed. Inhale deeply when the shoulders move upwards and exhale when the shoulders move downwards.

3. Keep both the hands on the respective shoulders, right hand on the right shoulder and left hand on the left shoulder. By keeping the hands on the shoulders rotate the arms initially clockwise for 8-10 times and then anti clockwise for 8-10 times. Deeply inhale when the elbows move forward and exhale when the elbows move backwards. Start out with very small circles and then make the circles bigger and bigge as your shoulder becomes free.

4. From Vajrasana gently stand on the knees. This is half standing position. Now rotate the arms in the front of the chest crossing them initially clockwise for 8-10 times and then anti clockwise for 8-10 times. Inhale when the arms move upwards and exhale when the arms move downwards.

5. Now sit back in Vajrasana. Inhale and raise your arms up over the head, press the palms together as hard as you can, then keep pressing them & bring them down in front of the chest while exhaling. Repeat eight to ten times.

6. Arms are apart, palms are facing towards each other, elbows facing downwards with fingers together. Inhale & bring the palms closer to each other with fingers apart at a distance of 6 to 8 inches. While doing this put pressure on the upper arms. Then relax. Do eight to ten times.

7. Sit in any sitting position or in Gomukhukasana position. Now take your right arm down over the right shoulder behind the neck. Take your left hand from down behind the back. Try to hold your hands in a hook shape & pull them in the opposite direction. The upper elbow should remain exactly on the back side of the head so that it gives complete exercise to the cervical spine. Inhale deeply when you pull the hands. Relax the hands when you exhale. Try to remain in the position to the count of three breaths. Then reverse the position & do the same exercise with the other side. Repeat 3-5 times each side (Use a belt if the hand does not come half way down the back).

8. Bring right arm in front of the chest by bending the elbow. Cross the left arm under the right arm. Hook the elbows and place hands as close as you can in a prayer position. Keep the hands near the nose. Do normal breathing. Now start with the left arm. Repeat 3-5 times each side.

Do all the exercises gently without any jerks.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna
Aum Shanti