Windmill Arms

Swimming Arms

"No one is wise by birth, for wisdom results from one own’s efforts." - T. Krishnamacharya

Windmill Arms

Introduction to Windmill Arms

Windmill Arms/Swimming Arms

This simple and somewhat unconventional yoga movement dynamically warms up and lubricates the shoulder girdle, upper back, and chest. It can be done seated, or while standing with the feet a little wider than the hips. 

The goal of this yoga warm-up is to move the arms in a complete cycle, exploring the entire range of motion available in your shoulder joint. As you draw the arm in large arcs in front and behind your body, your shoulder blade naturally begins to articulate and move against your rib cage in its complete range of motion as well. This gentle articulation between the scapula and rib cage creates more mobility and freedom in this often tight area. 

How to Practice Windmill Arms

  1. Start in your desired position: either standing with your feet just wider than your hips, or seated in a chair with a long spine. Begin with both arms elongated down by your hips.
  2. Gently begin by rotating your thumb toward your thigh and then back toward the back of the room – this will make your arm internally rotate and draw the shoulder of that arm forward slightly. 
  3. Maintain this internal rotation as you draw that arm in front of your body and up toward your ear. 
  4. As you reach the top open your chest, and rotate slightly in your spine as you continue reaching your arm back behind you. Notice that your thumb is pointing up toward the ceiling as it passes by your ear. Your arm will now be in external rotation. Follow the movement of your hand with your eyes. 
  5. Keep your thumb pointing up toward the ceiling and then toward the back of the room (your palm will be facing the side wall) as you bring your arm down toward your hip again. 
  6. As your arm passes by your hip, allow your thumb to rotate toward your body again, moving back into internal rotation. 
  7. Continue several sweeps in this direction. 
  8. Switch to the other arm and complete several “back strokes” on this side. 
  9. After practicing several back strokes, reverse the movement and the rotation in your arms for several rounds of forward strokes on each side. 

Practice Tips

If the internal and external rotation in the instructions is confusing for you, just practice what feels like a natural back and forward arm stroke for you. Chances are, you naturally move in and out of internal and external rotation without having to think about it.

Recommended Use

Arm Swims can be used to warm up for any yoga practice that involves the upper body. They are gentle and general enough to be used at the beginning of almost any yoga practice. If you are working toward a yoga pose that involves a lot of shoulder flexion such as Dolphin Pose, Arm Swims would be a wonderful way to warm up the shoulders and upper back.

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