Yoga Shoulder Stretches

Do you hold tension and stress in your shoulders? Sitting hunched over a computer or smart phone for hours a day , often with poor posture, can cause incredible tension in our shoulders and chest.

We usually feel the tightness and pain in our shoulders, but it’s often coming from tightness round the chest area, so it’s helpful to stretch and open across the chest also .

Although a number of this tension could also be caused by poor physical posture, i think that much of the strain is caused by mental or emotional stress that we are holding onto in our bodies, manifesting physical tension and pain.

This article describes my favorite Yoga poses and stretches which will help to release the strain in your shoulders. it’s a part of a series of ‘Yoga Poses for Reducing Aches and Pains’.

I recommend doing this sequence using the breathing as mentioned below, then getting to holding each pose for a touch longer, up to twice the amount of breaths mentioned below.

Remember to concentrate to your body and breathe slowly and deeply. If any pose doesn’t feel good or if you’re experiencing discomfort or pain, please release out of the pose and leave a comment within the comments section below and I’ll make certain to reply .

Seated Cat Pose (Marjaryasana) and Seated Cow Pose (Bitilasana)

Seated Cat and Cow is analogous to regular Cat and Cow except there’s more emphasis on opening and stretching the shoulders in these seated versions. Take a deep inhale as you wrap your arms around your back, interlace the fingers and arch the rear slightly, gazing forwards and lifting the hands up at the rear , into Seated Cow Pose. Keep the shoulders down faraway from the ears and draw the shoulder blades together. Take a deep exhale as you bring the arms ahead , interlace the fingers and around the back, pressing the palms faraway from you, drawing the belly back towards the spine and therefore the chin to the chest, into Seated Cat Pose, still keeping the shoulders relaxed and down faraway from the ears. Repeat 5 rounds, using the breath as you inhale to Seated Cow Pose and exhale to Seated Cat Pose.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4.5.jpg

Seated Eagle Arms (Garudhasana)

VariationWrap the proper elbow underneath the left and place the palms together, or the rear of the hands, whichever you’ll reach, keeping the fingers pointing up and therefore the wrists straight. Inhale as you lift the elbows up, and exhale as you gently draw the hands and forearms faraway from the face, breathing into the rear of the shoulders. Keep drawing the shoulders down faraway from the ears, relaxing the shoulders. Either stick with this version of the pose, or slowly begin to fold forwards into a rather deeper version, using the breath to guide you. Keep drawing the hands and forearms down towards the ground to deepen the stretch across the rear of the shoulders. Hold and breathe for five long deep breaths. Slowly come up and switch sides, wrapping the left elbow underneath the proper .

Thread the Needle

Come onto hands and knees, place the left into the center of the mat underneath the chest, inhale as you extend the proper arm up to the proper , exhale as you thread the proper arm all the way underneath the left arm, keeping length within the right arm as you thread. Lower the surface of the proper shoulder and therefore the right ear onto the mat, keeping the hips up high. you’ll either keep your let hand on the mat ahead of your face or straighten your left arm and stretch it up overhead with the palm on the mat (the two variations are shown below). Hold and breathe for five long deep breaths. Switch sides.

Chest Opener

Lower all the way down onto your belly and place your left arm call at a T shape, at 90 degrees to the body, palm facing down. Pressing the proper hand into the mat, roll over onto your left side, pressing the front of your left shoulder into the mat, keeping your left ear on the mat. you’ll stay during this version of the pose or if you would like to travel deeper, extend the proper arm up and round the back towards the left arm, keeping the proper arm at shoulder height. you’ll also bend your right knee and place your foot on the mat behind your left leg so you’ll roll over more onto your left side body. Hold and breathe for five long deep breaths, breathing into your left shoulder and across the chest. Release and roll back onto your belly. Switch sides.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Come copy onto hands and knees, tuck the toes under, lift the hips up high, into Downward Facing Dog, an the wrong way up V shape. Spread the fingers wide, pressing into all 10 fingers, particularly the thumb and first finger. Place your hands a touch wider than shoulder width, and feet about hip width. Press the heels to the mat as you lift the kneecaps to interact the quadriceps, draw the belly up towards the spine to interact the core, press the sit bones up towards the sky, push the ground away with the palms and draw the guts towards the thighs. Create space within the upper back by rotating the triceps towards one another , and shoulders faraway from the ears. Hold and breathe for five long deep breaths.

Dolphin (Makarasana)

From Downward Facing Dog, lower onto your forearms, with the forearms parallel to at least one another and therefore the palms face down. Press the forearms and therefore the palms down into the mat as you press the shoulders faraway from the ears, creating space round the shoulders. Begin to steer the feet a touch closer to the elbows. Feel the strength of the shoulders and breathe into the shoulders. Keep drawing the sit bones up high, legs engaged and therefore the thighs towards the chest. Hold and breathe for five long deep breaths.

Cobra (Bhujangasana)

Lower down onto your belly, place your hands underneath your shoulders on the mat, as you inhale press into your hands and lift your chest and head off the mat, keeping your hips and legs low. Keep alittle bend in your arms, roll your shoulders down faraway from your ears, draw your shoulder blades together and open across the chest. Hold and breathe for five long deep breaths, relaxing the low back and breathing into your low back. Lower backtrack onto your belly and take a Child’s Pose to release the low back.

Wide Legged Forward Fold Pose (Prasarita Padottanasana)Variation 1

From standing, step the left foot back about 3 feet, turning both feet in slightly so you’re a touch pigeon toed. Press into the surface of the feet to straighten the legs. Wrap the arms round the back, interlace the fingers, inhale as you’re taking alittle recline and lengthen the spine, exhale as you fold forward from the hip crease, lowering the top towards the mat and increasing the arms overhead, as shown. attempt to keep the legs straight if you’ll otherwise you can soften the knees a touch to switch . Hold and breathe for five long deep breaths. Inhale to return copy to standing.Variation 2 – If you’d wish to try a deeper variation, place the palms together in prayer position behind the rear , as shown. Inhale as you lengthen the spine, exhale as you fold forward, keeping the shoulders faraway from the ears and draw the shoulder blades together. Hold and breathe for five long deep breaths. Inhale to return copy to standing.Variation 3 – For a more advanced variation, raise the proper arm up overhead, bend the elbow and draw the pass on the rear . Bend the left elbow and place the hand behind the rear and see if you’ll reach the hands together. If you can’t take a hold of your hands, you’ll use a strap, rope or rolled up towel. Inhale as you lengthen the spine, exhale as you fold forward. Hold and breathe for five long deep breaths. Inhale to return copy to standing. Switch sides.

Locust (Salabhasana)

variationLie down on your belly, wrap your arms around your back and interlace your fingers. Inhale as you lift the chest, head and shoulders up off the mat, drawing the arms back and opening the shoulders and chest. Keep drawing the hands towards the feet. you’ll either stick with this variation or also lift the legs for a more advanced version of the pose. Hold and breathe for five long deep breaths.

Bridge (Setu Bandhasana)

Lie on your back, bend your knees and place the feet firmly on the mat hip width apart, on the brink of the sit bones therefore the fingers can brush alongside the heels. Inhale as you lift the hips and copy off the mat, squeeze the shoulders towards one another underneath the torso, and interlace the fingers underneath the hips. Keep pressing the shoulders and feet firmly right down to the mat as you lift the hips up nice and high. Keep the gaze straight up towards the ceiling. Draw the chin retreat from the chest and therefore the chest back towards the chin. Squeeze the shoulder blades together under the torso. Hold and breathe for five long deep breaths.

Childs Pose (Balasana)

VariationRoll over onto your hands and knees, then place the knees to the edges of the mat and therefore the big toes together, sink the hips back to the heels and place the forehead on the mat for Child’s Pose. For this variation which will stretch out the shoulders more, bend the elbows and place the elbows on the mat (or on a block for a deeper stretch) with the palms together above your head. Press the shoulders down towards the mat for a pleasant deep shoulder stretch. Hold and breathe for five long deep breaths. SavasanaIt’s important to always finish any yoga sequence with our final resting pose,


Lie on your back, close your eyes, let the entire body be relaxed and still, arms a touch faraway from the body, with the palms facing up. Bring your internal gaze to your pineal eye chakra in between your eyebrows and visualize a bright white light at that space, area of intuition and wisdom. Remain here in Savasana for a couple of minutes or as long as you would like , before slowly and gently deepening your breath, finding some movement back in your body, rolling onto your right side then slowly coming into a seated position. Bring your palms together at your heart center. Namaste.
I hope these postures helped your shoulder pain. If you’d like some more shoulder strength-building exercises, i like to recommend finding out our Yoga Postures for Shoulder Strength article. Practicing the postures in both sequences is vital to assist with both shoulder flexibility and strength, so you’ll build strong and open shoulders. hear your body and only do the exercises that feel good and don’t cause or trigger any pain.

Feel free to follow along side our Online Yoga Class Videos for more postures which will help ease shoulder pain.

Feel free to go away any comment and questions within the comments section below and share together with your friends on social media if you found this text helpful.

Author: Sally Mitchell, founding father of Body Flows Yoga Retreats and RYT 200 Yoga Teacher leads yoga retreats in California, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon, Hawaii, Mexico and Costa Rica . Living in beautiful Sonoma, California, after 15 years in NYC and San Francisco , her approach as a pacesetter and teacher is holistic, balanced and grounded. She enjoys practicing and studying Yoga and Buddhism, hiking and trail running in nature, traveling, writing and galvanizing others to measure a more spiritual and meaningful life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *