Box 3-28: "Opening the Shoulder Joints"

The “Opening the Shoulder Joints” (OSJ) exercise, shown in Photos 3-27, is a good example of Taoist yoga in that it combines stretching, breathing, and mental exercise. OSJ is useful as an adjunctive therapy for neck and shoulder pain. Correctly performed, within a few minutes of holding the arms outward in this way, a traction effect will be produced. This is an orthopedic technique for relieving pressure on the spine or bones, which can be traced back to ancient times. The practice of holding the technique helps the muscles of the shoulders and upper back release in order

to accommodate the arm positions. As habitual tension in the shoulder complex starts to relax, OSJ tugs at the neck and shoulders.

In the language of the body’s channel and energetic system, OSJ promotes energetic balance at the juncture of six channels (three yin and three yang) as they pass from the torso to the arms. These are the yin energetic channels of the lung, pericardium, and heart; and the yang energetic channels of the large intestine, triple burner, and small intestine. The exercise is particularly valuable, since half of the major channels pass through these locations.

In surprising ways, exercises like the OSJ provide a training advantage in other endeavors. This point is illustrated by how one practitioner used the technique to enhance his conga drum playing. Sal, a senior instructor in our organization, used“the OSJ as a warm-up technique before drumming practice, and he believes that the exercise helped him see a dramatic improvement in his overall performance. Sal shared the technique with his drum instructor, who became so impressed with his own increased power and control after practicing the technique that he now regularly employs the posture as a warm-up exercise for his students.

Excerpt From: JOHN BRACY. “The Search for Mind-Body Energy.”