Susi Hately

Calm.Steady.Strong: Your Shoulder Blades

Tip Number 2: Exploring Your Shoulder Blades

Tissue of all sorts, no matter if it is muscle, tendon, ligament, nerve, etc, can be impacted by surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation. This, in turn, can impact the movement of all aspects of your body. For surgeries around the rib cage, neck, or shoulder we often limitations in arm movement which can impact shaving the face, head or armpits; washing or drying/styling hair; putting on a necklace, a bra; lifting up a child, a pet, or putting plates or cups up on a shelf, etc.

These movements require, in part, the movement of your shoulder blades which can get frozen or stuck as a result of treatment and/or surgery. Scar tissue can limit the movement, as can irradiated tissue. The good news is that change can happen, and your shoulder blades can improve their movement enabling you to be able to move your arms in a variety of directions.

Your Exercise: Exploring the Shoulder Blades

This is a simple exercise to explore the movement of your shoulder blades.

Set Up: In standing or sitting.
1. As you inhale, raise your shoulders to your ears.
2. As you exhale, pull your shoulder blades back and gently release them down.
3. Repeat.
Considerations to keep in mind:
1. Keep the rib cage quiet.
2. Move in a range of motion that doesn’t increase your pain or ache.

This video walks you through the steps above. Enjoy!

Playback Quality : High

Until next week,


Reduce Compensations to Heal Faster

Perhaps the most important concept that I teach my students is the idea of reducing compensation. Reducing compensatory movement patterns has such a significant impact on recovery and healing. So much so, that I can quite comfortably say that my clients who have re-learned how to move well have made gains faster than those who don’t.  It can be somewhat mind blowing.

Learning to move well requires 3 things:

  • Awareness of how you are moving/breathing
  • Noticing when and how you compensate
  • Reducing the compensating

I ask my students to practice this way only when they are on their yoga mat. I ask them to not worry about the rest of their life, just move as they move. If they practice diligently on their mat, it will bubble over.

Your Exercise: Exploring when and how you compensate

Legs up the Wall is a fantastic exercise to settle the back and soothe tired feet. It is also a great way to explore the movement of your hips and gain awareness of where you are tight and where you are mobile. I will show you how to integrate this awareness to improve your mobility and overall function.

This type of movement is really helpful for people who have had surgery close to the pelvis – prostate, uterus, bladder, colon – since the tissue can become adhesed post-surgery. By improving the movement of your hips, you will stand taller, and feel less compressed. And, if you have any strain or pain in your back, better movement of the hips can reduce aches and pains in the back.  

Here is the video –

Playback Quality : High

Until next week,


Obliques – How To Not Be A Pretzel :)


Last week on Instagram I posted a computerized video of the obliques in a twist. You can see it here.

It shows how the obliques are the engine and primary driver when rotating the torso.

This is important to understand, and to feel.

So many people in yoga, and elsewhere, over-use their arms to pull into a twist.

With this over-leveraged movement, it is too easy to go further than is available. Blowing by any whispers, or indicators, and missing the opportunity to make true progress.

It is a big reason why twists can often lead to SI joint issues, rib issues, neck issues and more.

It’s also a reason why many teachers say to move the pelvis when twisting. They say it is safer. They aren’t wrong.

But it also can prevent an efficient use of the obliques as the driver, the engine, the initiator of the movement.

It is a classic case of trying to solve the problem that isn’t.

Without efficient use of the obliques we are missing a big piece of functional movement. This can lead to psoas issues, QL issues, poor hip mechanics, poor breathing. Not to mention poor core stability. (and interestingly SI, Rib and Neck issues).

It also puts a huge damper on reducing pain, and making significant gains in how we move.

And most importantly it can put a kibosh on all that we could be capable of.

Just think what could be possible if your twists were actually driven by the obliques? Think digestion, think walking and running, think stair climbing, lifting your kids, golfing, skating, cross-country skiing . . . .

Here is the thing. Twists are powerful. Especially when we allow the obliques to be the engine. In more ways than you can imagine.

If you want to dig into this more, here are two ways.

Read: I wrote a whole chapter on twists in my book Anatomy and Asana: Preventing Yoga Injuries. You can get a copy here.

Watch: Explore videos in Susi’s Resource Library. I have many on the obliques, twisting, core stability and more. View more details are here.

Happy exploring!


Tricks to Get Past Busy Minds

The other day a new client who is a yoga teacher asked me: Do you have any tricks to get past people’s busy or stressed minds and bring them into their bodies?

Here is part of my response.

I am not sure if this is a trick per se, but I can tell you the most effective technique that I know of, to help people get past their busy and stressed minds. In fact, it’s the foundation for the magic and mystery that is healing. It is what brings trust, hope, and belief that something is possible.

It is Love.

That’s a super-loaded word with endless interpretations. In this case, by Love I mean sitting with another person, meeting them where they are, being present to them, and listening to what they are saying and not saying. It is not judging that something is wrong and needs to be fixed, but seeing that they are truly whole and have symptoms that are trying to get their attention.

By Love I mean listening in a way that is receptive: it’s understanding that your client has hopes and goals that may have been put aside because of the symptoms and sensations they are experiencing.

By Love I mean that when we are present with another person, when we are not just standing in front of them, but truly being with them, we can see and acknowledge them. We see the light that is unique to them, knowing that the person—the energy that is them—has never been on this planet before and when they are gone, will never be here again. It is understanding that we are not taking up square feet, that we are here at this time on purpose. The fact that they are in your space now, means on some level that they are ready to change.

By Love I mean that our job is to cultivate a healing relationship, a healing space that allows for that change to occur. One where the client can feel that they are being seen. When that happens, when someone feels seen—oh man, that is when change happens.

That’s a long definition of a short word, but it’s the most effective thing I have learned in 25 years of helping people out of pain. It far surpasses understanding anatomy, memorizing exercises, learning motivation techniques and other compliance methods. It is a sweet spot of grace and vulnerability, where you meet the humanity of another (and of yourself); you meet their heart, mind, and soul.

You can’t shortcut your way to this very powerful place. It first takes some work on your own self before you can get here. But when you do, you’ll have become very powerful as a teacher.

In fact, you will become known as a healer who cares and who gets results. More importantly you will have helped someone to move through their busy or stressed mind into a quiet place of feeling—not just of their body, but of the gentle whispers guiding them along to the essence of who they are.

Have fun exploring,