58: All About The Shoulder with Diana Zotos

The shoulder is a notoriously complex and even injury prone joint, but we don’t have to be afraid of it!  Today we have Diana Zotos, our resident Physical Therapist, joining us on The Mentor Sessions to dive into everything yoga teachers need to know about the shoulder! 

Diana is the co-founder and co-director of Threes Physiyoga Method™ which is dedicated to teaching yoga teachers applied anatomy and kinesiology, and bridging the gap through advanced teacher training between yoga teachers and the healthcare industry.  

Check out our first conversation in Episode #25 all about women’s pelvic floor health and how that relates to yoga practice and yoga teaching.

In this episode you’ll hear:

  • an overview of all the bones that make up the shoulder, including a deep dive into the scapula
  • a description of the many joints that actually make up the whole shoulder complex
  • the over AND underuse issues that come up in yoga practitioners
  • some things that yoga teachers can do in class to encourage healthy and full use of the shoulders
  • a quickfire Q+A about rotator cuffs, thoracic outlet syndrome, frozen shoulder, sore serratus anterior and overused trapezius muscles 

Learn More From Diana:

  • On her website
  • On Instagram
  • Want to see videos of shoulder Threes Phyisyoga X Method Mindful PTexercises that Diana mentioned in the podcast? Sign up here to be the first to know when the Mindful PT Store is open! 

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3 Responses to “58: All About The Shoulder with Diana Zotos”

  1. Jennie MacGoy

    Hello Francesca! Thank you for your marvelous podcasts! This episode really spoke to me. I have suffered from rotator cuff tendinitis for quite a while — most likely due to insufficient shoulder stability and strength in my power yoga practice. My teaching evolved quickly from teaching power yoga to a very mindful, gentle yoga because it is what my students need and what they love (as do I!) Your story about helping a client with frozen shoulder was so touching: giving her the space to breathe and relax, then help her gradually find a pain-free range of motion for her shoulder. What a gift! That is something I would love to offer to all of my students as I gradually transition to teaching more privates and few classes at my home studio.

    One question: Diana and you said that, in general, yoga practitioners have spent too much time retracting/over firing the muscles around the shoulder blades and that teachers need to give students more time in a “casual” tadasana. Most of my students are new to yoga, are seniors, or appear to have pronounced kyphosis in the thoracic spine (way beyond the natural curve). Assuming it is appropriate for me to continue to invite them to work on retraction of the scapula, as well as overall shoulder mobility? I am fairly confident that my particular population has not spent years puling their shoulder blades down and back like so many yoga practitioners!

    • Francesca Cervero

      Hey Jennie! I’m so happy you reached out and thrilled that you enjoyed this episode so much! I’m glad to hear your shoulder is better and it sounds like you’ve learned so much that has been able to support your lucky students in their practice as well.

      As for your question: it’s true, not everyone spends so much time retracting their shoulder blades, so that is not an overuse issue that would come up in all students, especially people who are newer to yoga. I think encouraging awareness and full movement of the scapula is good for everyone so that would include *some* scapular retraction in addition to protraction, elevation, depression and upward rotation. I would never recommend that you should *never* cue scapular retraction for your students.

      *That said*: If what you are seeing in your students is that they exhibit excessive kyphosis in their thoracic spine, or they don’t have extension to spinal extension, then scapular retraction is not really a fix for that. Scapular retraction and spinal extension can be done together, but they don’t *have* to and I think it is good to teach that body awareness to students. So for that reason, I personally still wouldn’t cue retraction in a shape like tadasana. Does that make sense?


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