How many times have you been asked to place your hands shoulder-width apart in yoga class? Down Dog, Up Dog, Chaturanga Dandasana, Plank, to name a few, all require this specific positioning.
Did you know that your optimal shoulder-width hand placement can change over time? Yes, it depends on your posture at any given moment. If your shoulders are slightly sloped forward, like most people, you will be more comfortable with your hands slightly wider. Consequently, the proper positioning will impact your alignment – much more than you would think.
If you look closely at both photos, you can see, in the left one, that I am putting my weight on my left side, which is evident in my shoulders and hips. Not good. Instead of helping my back, I was hurting it.
So, how do you find your shoulder width? You will need a yoga-buddy for this. (Any kind of buddy will do.) From the back, using a strap or measuring tape, find the distance from the outside edge of one acromion process to the other.
Got it? Good. :)
Now, find it on your Gurugrid (www.thegurugrid.com).
Got it? Good. :)
OK, this is where you place your middle fingers. This is YOUR personal shoulder width. (For my body, the distance is 14.5 inches – yours may be different.)
As mentioned, above, this could change over time, not by much – but simply re-positioning less than an inch can make a big difference in the alignment of your entire body.
As your posture improves, you may be more comfortable with your hands slightly closer, since, as you stand more erect, the distance between your acromion processes will narrow. But, this measurement should take place when your posture changes naturally, not when you are forcing yourself to stand straight.
There you have it! As always, please do verify with your yoga teacher or physiotherapist. Every body is different and it is always a good idea to double check.
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