Originally Published On 3/2/2021
Strong upper-back and shoulder muscles are key for a balanced body, and support a healthy posture, as well as simply defining and shaping the shoulder area, and help to minimize injury and pain for years to come.
But if you don’t have access to workout benches, cable crossover machines or other equipment needed, it may appear hard to exercise your back and shoulders at home.
The good news is, you can still do back and shoulder workouts at home using a yoga swing or yoga hammock. In this article we’ll explore the importance of this and go through some of the best aerial yoga poses for upper back and shoulder strength.
The Importance of Upper Back and Shoulder Strength
Strong upper back and shoulders play a crucial role in maintaining good posture and preventing the all-too-common problem of rounded shoulders and hunching forward. When the pectoral muscles in the chest become tight and overdeveloped, they can exert a strong pull on the shoulders, causing them to roll forward. This imbalance can lead to a host of posture-related issues, including neck and back pain.
However, a strong upper back and shoulders can act as a counterbalance to the chest muscles. These muscles, particularly the trapezius and rhomboids in the upper back and the deltoids in the shoulders, help to pull the shoulders back and down, effectively countering the forward pull of the chest muscles.
This balance between the chest and upper back muscles not only improves posture but also contributes to better overall body alignment and reduced strain on the spine. Incorporating exercises that target the upper back and shoulder muscles, such as rows, pull-ups, and shoulder presses, into your fitness routine can go a long way in correcting and maintaining proper posture.
By strengthening these muscles, you’ll not only stand taller and more confidently, but you’ll also reduce the risk of developing posture-related discomfort and pain. So, don’t underestimate the importance of a strong upper back and shoulders in achieving and maintaining excellent posture.
Aerial Yoga Poses for Upper Back and Shoulder Strength
In addition to traditional strengthening exercises, incorporating aerial yoga poses can be a fun and effective way to target the upper back and shoulder muscles while also improving posture.
Here are some of the best aerial yoga poses to help build strength through the upper back and shoulders that can contribute to a balanced upper body and better posture:
Aerial Shoulder Opener
This pose involves hanging inverted in the aerial hammock, allowing your shoulders to gently open up and release tension. It’s excellent for stretching the chest and front shoulder muscles.
Similar to traditional rows but performed while suspended in the hammock, aerial rows engage the rhomboids, trapezius, and deltoids to help strengthen the upper back and shoulders.
Using the hammock for support, you can perform assisted pull-ups. This exercise targets the latissimus dorsi and the upper back muscles, helping to counterbalance the chest muscles.
Suspended Plank Pose
Planks are an effective workout for people who live a sedentary lifestyle. And instead of doing the ordinary plank, you can make it more effective by doing it in a suspended manner, using a yoga hammock swing.
The suspended plank pose is more effective than the ordinary plank because it calls for greater awareness and control, stability, balance as well as coordination to perform it. Compared to the conventional plank, the suspended plank will force your body to engage more muscle fibers. Also, it will engage the core body muscles to a greater extent compared to the standard plank.
Apart from strengthening your upper back and shoulder muscles, the suspended plank pose also comes with the following benefits:
· Back pain relief: If you have existing back pain or you have disc issues, then the suspended plank will provide relief in a comfortable and safe manner.
· Improved balance: When you work out your upper back and shoulder muscles, you will also improve balance and stability in all areas.
· Improved posture: Plank exercises are highly effective when it comes to improving posture.
And maintaining a healthy, upright posture will facilitate better breathing for optimal operation of your nervous system and digestion.
So, how do you do the suspended plank? To do the suspended plank pose, you first need to position on your belly, while positioning your feet directly below your yoga swing saddle. From there, you should then place one foot on the hammock followed by the other. Once you’ve positioned both feet on the sling, you then position your elbows under your shoulders while making sure your wrists are aligned with the elbows.
In this position, you should raise yourself off the floor as if you are doing a conventional plank, and then contract your glutes, quads and abdominals. Ensure you hold the plank for at least 30 seconds and then rest for one minute. Repeat the routine for 3 to 5 sets.
Cow Pose Aerial
The cow pose is one of the best aerial yoga poses for beginners. It will form the foundation for more advanced aerial yoga poses. This aerial yoga pose will improve flexibility in your muscles, strengthen your spine, alleviate back pain and stress, strengthen your shoulders and improve blood flow to your back. To do the cow pose, you should first position yourself on the floor on all fours, making sure your knees are positioned directly below your hips while the wrists are under the shoulders.
You should then rise to stand on your knees, grab the yoga hammock and bring it directly in front of you. When you are in this position, you should then bring your body to the center, making sure the hips and the knees remain in position. From this position, you should arch your back slightly, inhale, exhale, and then do a few more sets. Ensure your elbows and arms remain steady throughout the move.
Supported Chair Pose
Also known as Utkatasana, the supported chair pose will strengthen your arms and shoulders, and open up your back. To do this pose, you should plant your feet firmly on the ground, separate your hammock with your hands and then rest your back on a yoga hammock swing. After obtaining a comfortable and secure position, you should then lean back.
As you are leaning back, make sure your feet remain anchored on the ground while your back remains connected to the anti-gravity yoga swing. Allow your body to relax for a few seconds and then repeat the routine for at least 3 to 5 times per set. The supported chair pose is usually done with the feet positioned together. However, if you feel unstable or shaky, then you can slightly widen the space between your feet.
Reclining Hero Pose
If you are looking for an aerial yoga pose that will stretch your arms and shoulders, upper back, lower back and knees, then you should check out this next workout. Apart from helping to strengthen your upper back and shoulders, this pose will also activate your chest, quads, middle back, core and psoas, as well as your biceps and triceps muscles in the arm.
To achieve this pose, you will first need to sit on your knees directly in front of your anti-gravity yoga swing. When in this position, you should then reach for the hammock in front of you, wrap it around your wrists.
From that point, you should then press your hips forward while lowering your back gently towards the floor. Then squeeze your shoulder blades together and press your sternum. Repeat the move for 3 to 5 sets, or as long as you can, depending on your fitness levels.
The Superman pose is arguably one of the most popular yoga trapeze workouts. For starters, it may appear challenging, but once you do it a few times, you will realize it’s not as hard as it looks. It helps to build upper body strength, improves balance and engages your core muscles.
To do this pose, you should first sit on your yoga swing, forming a “V” with your legs. From this position, you need to bend your knees gently and touch your feet together.
You then need to grab the yoga swing handles, while ensuring your palms are facing forward. Then, you need to bend your elbows upwards and lift your chin gently away from your chest. If you normally experience lower back pain, it’s highly advisable to do some yoga stretches prior to the workout. These stretches will help to relieve the discomfort, aching and tightness issues.
Swing Warrior Pose
A variation of the traditional Warrior pose, this aerial version incorporates the hammock for balance and support. It challenges the upper body muscles, including the shoulders, while improving overall posture. Also called the Virabhadra’s pose, this pose provides a great means of working out your core, stretching your back and stabilizing your hips. Additional benefits include stretching the shoulders, enhancing breath awareness, building concentration and focus as well as improving full-body muscular control.
When doing this in your yoga trapeze workout, you should first assume the mountain pose and position your feet shoulder-width apart. From there, raise your arms towards the ceiling, press your shoulder blades together and ensure the entire body is balanced together. Make sure the right leg is fully stretched and perpendicular to the floor.
You can combine this workout routine with the crescent lunge so that you can build strength and balance in your entire back. The most important thing when doing this pose is to find a balance point between the pulling back force of your yoga hammock swing and the leaning forward force of your body. When you find that balance, your spine will be properly aligned and you will enjoy all the benefits that the workout offers.
Inverted Bow Pose
Also called Dhanurasana, the inverted bow pose is a powerful part of an aerial yoga hammock workout for stretching the shoulders and building flexibility in the upper back.
First, you should sit on your inversion sling while making sure your entire body weight is uniformly distributed. In short, you shouldn’t put excess weight on either the left or right side. After obtaining a comfortable position on the swing, you should allow your hands to hang on the sides of the yoga swings, and then bend your back slowly.
From that position, you need to bend from the tailbone steadily and slowly, hold your ankles and pull them down further. By the end of this aerial yoga workout for upper back and shoulder strength, you will experience some relief in your glutes, hamstrings, shoulders and upper back.
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
The one-legged king pigeon pose is an intermediate-level yoga hammock swing workout for upper back and shoulder strength. It helps to work out your arms and shoulders, hips, biceps and triceps as well as hamstrings, just to name a few.
It’s important to note that this aerial pose for the upper back and shoulders requires a certain degree of flexibility. You will start with the reclining angle pose, and then lift your head to face your legs. Once you’ve attained this position, you need to bend the right knee while keeping the right leg as it is.
You will then need to rotate your left thighbone slightly. In case you require additional support, you just need to hold the sides of your aerial yoga swing. By using the hammock to support the hips, you can achieve a deep hip and chest stretch. This pose helps in opening up the chest and relieving tension in the shoulders, contributing to better posture.
Aerial Downward Dog
In this pose, you use the hammock to support your feet while your hands are on the ground. This creates an inverted V shape and stretches the shoulders and upper back while strengthening the arms.
Build Upper Back and Shoulder Strength
By incorporating these aerial yoga poses into your fitness routine, you can specifically target the upper back and shoulder muscles while enjoying the unique benefits of suspension and inversion. Also, the aerial yoga poses we’ve gone through can help to stretch the back and alleviate back pain.
These poses not only strengthen but also promote flexibility and release tension in the upper body, making them valuable tools in your quest for improved posture and overall well-being.
Whether you opt to do the suspended plank pose, the superman pose, the supported chair pose or any or all of the above poses, you will realize increased back and shoulder strength in no time.