You probably didn't pick up yoga with the goal of developing a great serratus anterior. You may not even know what this muscle does, or that your serratus anterior is located on your chest. Strengthening various muscle groups, even if you can't pronounce them, is a benefit of yoga. The small, but important serratus receives toning, strengthening and stretching through various yoga poses, sun salutations and other yoga sequences.
One way to identify your serratus anterior is through the look of the muscle.The edge of the muscle resembles a serrated knife and can be found on the sides of your chest. From this lower portion of your rib cage, the muscle connects with the underside of your shoulder blades nearest the spine. Its function in yoga is to create space between your shoulder blades and provide shoulder blade stability.
"Abduction" is the term used for when your shoulder blades separate. The abduction provides stability during arm strengthening poses such as Downward Facing Dog, Handstand and Crocodile. The serratus is also used when you transition from Upward Facing Dog to Downward Facing Dog during a Sun Salutation.
Perform yoga postures that place weight into your arms to improve your serratus anterior. These poses require solid upper body support and a widening of the shoulder blades is necessary. Poses such as Upward Facing Dog, Headstand, Handstand, and Upward Bow strengthen your serratus anterior. Begin with a short duration and increase your time in the postures as your strength improves.
Your serratus anterior, like all other muscles, benefits from stretching exercises. When you increase the flexibility of your serratus, you increase your shoulder range of motion. Include yoga poses such as Cow Face, Intense Side Stretch, Wide-Legged Forward Bend with C Arms, and Noose. Maintain deep breathing as you settle into the postures for one to three minutes of serratus stretching.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.