Teaching Yoga to Common Musculoskeletal Imbalances: Upper Back, Neck and Shoulders


Most students come to yoga with preexisting musculoskeletal imbalances, which can become an obstacle in their yoga practice and predispose them to injury. Whether you are a yoga teacher or simply interested in deepening your practice it is important to understand these musculoskeletal imbalances, how they impact your practice, and how to create greater balance in your body for a safe and transformative yoga practice.

In this course, yoga therapist and physical therapist Marlysa Sullivan will discuss some of the most common muscle imbalances of the neck and shoulders that contribute to pain and injury and how they affect yoga practitioners. There will be discussion on how these imbalances often precede musculoskeletal pain disorders and why it is important to address them early on and how to do this through your yoga practice. She will look at specific postures as well as how to teach and sequence a class that addresses these imbalances.

The view of the yoga teacher or yoga therapist is to integrate an understanding of the energetic and psychological components of the presence of these imbalances. We will review how the cause of physical imbalance may be created through our response and integration of energy and sensation as well as from our thoughts and emotions. We will look at the nervous system and the effect of yoga on the nervous system as a way to understand how to sequence and create postures to balance the body and mind and the underlying physical, energetic, mental and emotional aspects of pain and dysfunction.

We will look at asana and sequencing through the lens of the physical body as well as the energetic and mental bodies in order to explore the impact of these layers (the physical, mental, and energetic) on each other. We will explore how the layers of the wisdom and bliss bodies can help us to explore and release these held imbalances.

What You Will Learn

  • How musculoskeletal imbalances contributes to common neck and shoulder pain and dysfunction
  • Understanding how these imbalances show up in yoga practice and can lead to injury
  • How to safely practice asana to balance the body and prevent injury
  • Alignment through understanding what and how to engage and stabilize safely to also stretch, mobilize and relax the body
  • How to sequence appropriately for relaxation, stretching, strengthening and stability through the lens of these imbalances
  • How the nervous system is a window into understanding the causes of held tensions and imbalances
  • Understand how to use the full lens of the yoga therapist to understand the physical, energetic, emotional and psychological aspects underlying these imbalances

This Course Also Includes:

  • Yoga Practice: Enjoy a yoga practice that demonstrates how to teach with the alignment cues and pointers that are most helpful to bring awareness to and prevent common alignment issues often created by musculoskeletal imbalances.
  • Recordings of Both Sessions: Yours to keep. It’s generally acknowledged that many people only retain 10-20 percent of what they learn in a workshop. You will get the recordings of both sessions (MP3 & MP4), enabling you to go back and listen to the workshop as many times as you like.
  • Transcripts of Both Sessions: Ever wanted to refer to a certain part of a course? Even the best note takers miss a point every so often. With the transcripts of the sessions, you can go back and refer to particularly important passages or clarify sections you were in doubt about.

This course qualifies for 3 CEs with Yoga Alliance. 

Related courses

Marlysa Sullivan MPT, E-RYT 500 is an Assistant Professor at Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) where she teaches in the integrative science and yoga therapy departments. Marlysa has developed many courses.

$127/ Lifetime Access

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