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How to (Finally!) Find Your Shoulder Width for Yoga - UPDATED

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We are constantly learning new stuff! 

So, after working with yogis and yoginis from far and wide, short and tall, young and old, big and little, we have noticed something interesting....

If you are someone with extra soft tissue (either fat or muscle, or both) around your upper back, this method may not give you your accurate shoulder-width. The additional flesh creates a longer distance between the two shoulders and your measurement will be too wide.

So, what to do, what to do?

You can still take your measurement, but if you are a woman and it is more than 14.5 inches, you should double-check, simply by doing a plank in the mirror or with a buddy or teacher. Your wrists should be in line with your shoulders. More specifically, the outside of your Acromion Process should line up with your middle finger. Voila! Easy breezy!

Please read on for more details and explanation. :)

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 hand 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 (

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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