The Scapulo-Humeral Rhythm and Arm Balances

Are you regularly told, or do you tell your students, to take the shoulders “down” or to keep the shoulders blades “on the back” when the arms are up overhead (full flexion)? Learn what you really want to be doing/teaching by studying the wonderful scapulo-humeral (shoulder/upper arm) rhythm in the context of asana practice. You will have a better understanding of how the arm positions in chatturanga, plank, tripod headstand, headstand, handstand and shoulderstand are quite different from each other and ask of us different things. Understanding the scapulo-humeral rhythm is fundamental to a strong and graceful practice.

Translate this information into Forearmstand and Handstand, and see how they differ from Crow and Peacock Poses and how to prepare for these joyful odes to courage and strength.


Alison West, Ph.D, ERYT, named one of the most influential Yoga teachers in America, is director of Yoga Union and the Yoga Union Backcare & Scoliosis Center. She first established Yoga Union in 1996 in SoHo after studying widely (Sivananda, Iyengar, Astanga Vinysasa Yoga) and teaching in NY for ten years. Her first studies at the Sivananda centers of Munich and NY in the early 80′s have led to a life-long interest in Yoga philosophy and the subtle practices of pranayama, meditation, mantra, yantra and mudra. She is ever grateful to Robert Moses, Kevin Gardiner, the late Mary Dunn, Sri K. Patthabi Jois and others for their selfless teaching and inspiration.

After studying with Bobbie Fultz and completing her Yoga for Scoliosis training with Elise Miller, Alison has gone on to develop new material and create the largest dedicated Yoga for Posture, Backcare, Herniation and Scoliosis in the world and conducts the only 100-Hour Backcare and Scoliosis Certification Program.

Alison conducts demanding “Gold Standard”* 200-hour Three-Pillars of Practice Teacher Trainings and a full 500-hour Mandala of Yoga Masters program in New York City, teaches workshops and master classes nationwide, in Europe and in the Middle East, and group and private classes in Manhattan.

She is currently writing her first Yoga book, Yoga for Backcare, which will be followed by Yoga for Scoliosis.

Note: Prior to her becoming a full-time Yoga professional, Alison obtained her Ph.D in Art History (1985) at NYU’s renowned Institute of Fine Arts under H.W. Janson and Robert Rosenblum. Her now-classic book on French Sculpture, From Pigalle to Prèault: Neoclassicism and the Sublime in French Sculputre, 1760-1840, was published by Cambridge University Press n 1998 and reviewed in all important publications including the New York Review of Books.