Shoulder opening yoga poses can benefit all people, especially those with chronic back and neck problems, or those who spend a lot of time each day sitting at a desk. Poor posture while sitting at a desk, table, or even while driving a car is very common and causes unfortunate physical side effects.
Shoulders, Neck, and Back
All of the muscles in the shoulders, neck, and back area can hurt as a result of poor posture. Shortened muscles are weaker, causing additional discomfort and pain. Yoga can help open up all of these joints and muscles, reducing chronic muscle pain and joint discomfort. Of course, improving posture while seated, as well as standing, will help maintain a healthy back, neck, and shoulders.
Shoulder Opening Yoga Poses
All yoga practice will help to strengthen, stretch, and align the body. However, a focused series of yoga poses that target the shoulders can offer significant improvements if this area is a chronically painful area.
While Mountain Pose may look very simple because you essentially are standing still on two feet with your arms at your sides, it is a great exercise for teaching better posture. Work with a yoga instructor to learn the proper alignment desired in Mountain Pose, and then practice the pose each day in front of a mirror. This pose will help you learn good posture that can be transferred over to all moments of the day. Essentially, the less damage you do to your shoulders and neck during the day, the less shoulder opening you have to do to compensate for the damage bad posture creates.
An excellent shoulder opening yoga pose, Bridge effectively releases tension in shoulders and offers fast relief.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, directly under your knees. *Place your arms flat on the floor and slowly lift your pelvis off the ground, bringing your spine with it. *As you come into Bridge Pose, only your upper shoulder blades should still have contact with the ground. Your hips and pelvis are in alignment, and neck is relaxed. Do not turn your neck in Bridge Pose. *For additional release, draw your shoulderblades down your back as you clasp your hands together under your body. In addition to opening your shoulders, this pose strengthens your spine, which can further improve posture.
Standing Forward Bend with Arm Variation
Another great pose to open your shoulders, as well as work your lower body as well, a Standing Forward Bend can provide excellent shoulder relief if you vary the arm position from the traditional ones.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and intertwine your hands behind your back. *Lift your shoulders up towards your ears as you bend forward, allowing your hands to fall toward the ground as you bend forward. *Let your arms fall as far forward as is comfortable for a shoulder-opening stretch.
This pose also provides an excellent stretch for the backs of your legs, and relaxes your mind.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
There is so much that this pose can do for you! Among the long list of benefits of this pose is that it has shoulder-opening capabilities. Practice Downward-Facing Dog Pose individually, or learn how to do the Sun Salutation Sequence in order to practice Down Dogs within a series of yoga poses that each have multiple physical and mental benefits.
More advanced than the previous shoulder opening yoga poses, Bow Pose is a great stretch. *Lie on the floor on your stomach with your head resting comfortably on the ground. *Bend your knees in order to bring your feet up above your knees, then slowly reach your hands around to grasp your ankles. *This first step is followed by stretching into the pose, which is done by extending your feet upwards, which brings your shoulders up as well.
A more difficult pose, the result is well worth it.
Another difficult yoga pose, this pose looks like a traditional gymnast's backbend and opens the shoulders as well as stretching the spine.
- Starting on your back, bring your feet in close to your bottom, and bend your arms, placing your hands on either side of your head, with palms flat and fingers towards your feet. *Slowly lift your hips off the floor, and then lift your head and neck. *Look backwards, first bringing your head to the floor, and then using your arms to push all of your weight onto your feet and hands. As you rise into the pose, straigthen your arms and legs.
A difficult pose, this pose is best attempted with an experienced instructor.
Yoga for Shoulders
All of these poses can help relieve shoulder problems that can be related to neck and back problems. All yoga practices can help relieve tension, but these poses target the upper body, providing quick relief.