Do you have a persistent twitch on your shoulder? You’re having trouble moving your hands? Yoga can provide relief from a tight shoulder.
It is used for many different things, such as reaching up to grab something on a high shelf, using a handrail, or lifting heavy grocery bags. It’s not surprising that you may feel sore or a bit tense if your shoulder gets strained accidentally.
The shoulder is a complex band made up of eight muscles. These protect the shoulder or glenohumeral joints. Most people associate the deltoid with the shoulder. This triangular capsule covers the glenohumeral joints and gives it a bulbous appearance. When you lift your arm, it protects the glenohumeral joints from dislocating. The rotator-cuff muscles are also part of the shoulder, and they help you move your arm in any direction. The rotator-cuff muscles include the supraspinatus and infraspinatus as well as the teres major, subscapularis and teres inferior.
Pectoralis majors and minors, located on your chest, are also involved in shoulder movements. They help with throwing, lifting and extension. Your latissimus, which is the largest muscle of your upper body, also plays a role in shoulder movement. The latissimus dorsi is also used for internal rotation and extension. The rhomboids connect the scapula with the thoracic walls, stabilizing the shoulder girdle. The trapezius is the last muscle, and it stabilizes your arm while rotating your shoulder blade.
This is all to say that the shoulder is a very complex area. Stretching the entire area is essential to ensure a smooth and comfortable motion.
Yoga poses to stretch tight shoulders
Marjaryasana (Cat Pose)
This gentle movement will provide excellent relief for your neck, shoulders and back.
Start in Tabletop by stacking your shoulders over your wrists, and placing your knees just below your hips.
Exhale and round your spine upwards. Press your palms together, letting the shoulder blades slide apart.
Bring your chin to your chest and release your head.
Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)
The hand placement is what gives you the benefit for your shoulders. Instead of dropping your arms to the ground in front of your, you can clasp them above your head and release tension in your trapezius and deltoids.
Start in Tadasana, with arms at your sides.
Keep your hands parallel and your feet parallel.
Try a variation of the arm by clapping your hands behind your back and letting your thumbs sit on your sitting bones.
Fold forward your hips, while keeping your torso wide. While keeping your fingers interlaced, keep your arms straight and press the knuckles towards the ceiling.
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Cobra Pose will help you to open your chest, shoulders and trapezius muscles while also releasing tension.
Start by lying down on your mat, with your arms under your shoulders and your legs behind you. Keep your elbows tucked.
The tops of the feet and legs should be pressed into the mat.
Straighten your arms on an inhalation to raise your chest from the mat.
Open your chest by lifting your sternum and gently pulling your shoulder blades.
Lift your hands lightly off the mat, hover them about an inch above the floor before lowering them again. This ensures the arch comes from your back and not by pushing your hands too hard.
This combination of Child’s Pose with Downward-Facing dog releases tension in your shoulders, neck, and arms while lengthening the spine. Rest your hands on a small block if the stretch feels too intense in your deltoids.
Start in Tabletop at the center of your mat.
Keep your elbows pointing in and your arms straight. Curl your toes underneath.
When you exhale, move your buttocks backwards half way toward your heels.
Continue to push down with your hands while keeping your arms straight.
Dhanurasana is also known as the Bow Pose.
As you release tension from your neck, shoulders and latissimus, open your chest. This posture will stretch your back and combat the effects of slouching.
Face up your palms and lie on your stomach with your arms at your sides.
Exhale and bend your knees until your heels are close to your buttocks. Keep your knees hip-width apart.
Grab your ankles with your hands.
As you inhale, raise your heels towards the ceiling and lift your legs off your mat.
Draw your shoulders back from your ears by pressing your shoulder blades into your back.
Natarajasana is also known as Lord of the Dance Pose.
The Lord of the Dance Pose resembles Bow Pose except that it is a standing version, focusing only on one arm and leg at a given time. Standing allows you to stretch your neck, shoulders and upper back more by pushing and pulling a bit deeper.
Begin in Tadasana. As you inhale, raise your left heel towards your buttocks on the left side as you bend your right knee.
Grab your left ankle, or the outer edge of your left shoe with your left hand.
As you lift your left leg, make sure to keep it away from your body. Extend your left leg parallel to the ground behind you. Stretch your right hand forward in front of you, parallel to your torso.
Focus on pressing your foot into the palm of your hand rather than leaning further forward to go deeper.
Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
This posture stretches your upper back and deltoids. To stretch your shoulders, the arm positions are most important. Modify by sitting or standing with both legs.
Begin in Tadasana. Cross your left thigh across your right thigh and wrap your left leg around your right calves.
Cross your arms in front of your torso so that they are parallel to the ground. Cross your arms so that your right arm is on top of your left. Bend your elbows and place your right elbow in the nook between your left elbow. Your forearms must be parallel to the ground with your backs facing each other.
The palms of the hands should now be facing each other. The thumb on the right should be in front of your little finger on the left. Press your palms together as much as possible, lift your elbows and extend the fingers upwards.