When I attempt to adjust someone’s shoulders in savasana, I first lift their arm by the hand or wrist. I give their arm a little wiggle or shake to determine the degree of release. Still sometimes a student is not ready to give up the weight or muscular control of their body. Here are several ways to help someone release some of that control so that they can be more receptive when they are being touched.
– Knowledge that release has not yet fully happened. It can be helpful for the teacher/bodyworker to verbally cue the student to ‘let go’ and relax.
– Use Imagery: Imagine your arm as a well-cooked piece of pasta and let it dangle. Imagine that the muscles of your arms are melting.
– Use Anatomical Info. How much do you think your arm weighs? Let that weight release. Mention different related areas to release – the jaw, neck and rib cage.
– Use Gentle, Repetitive Movements to physically coax their arm to release by lifting it just a bit, then letting their elbow drop onto your opposite palm. This will hopefully indicate that their arm is safe and supported.
– Hug. Using your hands, give a supportive squeeze at the shoulder. Using gentle pressure along the length of their arm, compress your hands around the upper arm, the lower arm to the hand, hugging the muscles toward the bones. This hugging action gives a feeling of support, like a swaddling for a baby.
– Breathe and be patient. As a teacher, some things cannot be hurried.
– Vibration: make some humming noises of relaxation.
– Inquire: Ask why they think it is difficult to let go. Perhaps they have had a shoulder injury and they’re protecting the joint.