By Vicki Means
Your shoulders often hold a lot of the stress you feel throughout the day. Whether you spend your time seated at a desk or behind the wheel of a car, you may start to feel soreness and tightness in your shoulder area.
Improve your posture and reduce your pain by practicing these top 10 yoga poses designed for this area of the body.
1. Bow Pose
Bow is a really great pose for getting your shoulders and chest loosened up, as well as the front of your hips. The pose also helps reduce mild backache, improve your posture, relieve menstrual cramps and gently massage the inner organs.
- Lie on your stomach with your arms at your sides, palms up.
- Exhale and bend your knees, bringing your heels as close to your torso as possible. Grab your ankles.
- Inhale and lift your thighs up and heels back. This will lift your upper body off the mat; press your shoulder blades toward each other while keeping the tops of your shoulders away from your ears. Look forward.
- Stay in the pose from 20 to 30 seconds. Exhale while releasing.
2. Forward Fold With Clasp
The forward fold pose loosens up and warm the body. When used with the clasp, this pose can release tightness in the lower back and shoulders, relax tired muscles and help with stress relief.
- Stand with your hands clasped behind your back and your legs straight, feet flat on the mat.
- Inhale, then as you exhale, soften your knees and fold forward, gently releasing the neck as the head falls forward.
3. Dolphin Pose
Dolphin pose stretches the shoulders, along with the arms, legs and upper back. It also provides the same benefits as Downward-Facing Dog.
- Get on your hands and knees. Hold the opposite elbow in each hand to reach shoulder-distance apart, then put your forearms against the mat parallel to each other.
- Drop your head and open your chest, reaching your arms in the direction of the feet to open the shoulders.
4. Eagle Pose
When you practice Eagle pose, you can improve the stability of your joints while enhancing your balance.
- Stand, then hug your left knee to your chest. Bend the right knee and cross the left leg around the right leg, hooking your left foot on the side of the right leg.
- Wrap your right arm around your left arm and lower your body in a sitting position.
- Lift through the arms to maintain your balance. Return to standing position and repeat on the other side.
5. Thread the Needle Pose
As you thread the needle, you can feel immediate stretching and opening in the shoulders, arms, chest, neck and upper back.
- Get on your hands and knees. Reach your right arm below your body, allowing the right shoulder to release toward the ground.
- Leave your left hand where it is or walk it so it is right over your head.
6. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose stretches both the muscles in the upper and lower body, relaxing your front muscles while stretching the back.
- Get on your hands and knees, spreading the knees wide apart while keeping the big toes touching. Allow your buttocks to rest on the heels.
- Sit up and lengthen the spine, then bow forward, allowing the torso to sit on top of the thighs. Broaden the upper back while allowing the lower back to soften and relax.
7. Rabbit Pose
Rabbit pose is meant to boost energy flow throughout the body while lengthening the spine and opening the upper body.
- Start in Child’s pose, then hold your heels and pull your forehead toward your knees. Keep the top of your head on the floor.
- Lift your hips toward the ceiling as you inhale. Roll to the crown of your head and press your forehead into your knees.
8. Cow Face Pose
Cow Face provides a deep stretch of the shoulders, as well as the thighs, hips, triceps, deltoids, ankles and chest.
- Kneel on your yoga mat and reach your right arm up. Bend the elbow and allow your hand to fall down between the shoulder blades.
- Place your left hand to your right elbow to absorb the weight and allow your shoulder opening to deepen. Lean back into the arms while avoiding pressure on the neck.
9. Reverse Prayer Pose
Using the reverse prayer position, you can effectively open up your chest to promote digestion, strengthen your wrists and loosen tight shoulder muscles.
- Sit on your mat in a comfortable position, allow the arms to fall to either side of the body.
- Bend your elbows and reach your arms behind the back. Press your palms together and reach up as high as you can.
10. Criss-Cross Pose
Criss-cross is a pose that helps stretch all the muscles in the shoulders, including the girdle. It also releases tensions stored in the back of the neck and shoulders.
- Lie on your stomach on your mat. Lift your torso, threading your right arm beneath the left at the shoulder height. Maintain a 90-degree angle away from your body.
- Reach your left arm in the opposite direction, hooking your chin over your shoulders. Lengthen the arms by walking the fingers away from each other.
- Repeat on the opposite side.