Along with the stretches outlined in Simple Yoga Stretches for Shoulders: Part 1, here at our relaxing yoga retreat in Costa Rica, Panacea de la Montaña, we bring you three more ways to bring flexibility into this key area of your body. When healthy, our arms are capable of a great range of motion. If you are not healthy, it is important to work carefully to improve your mobility and strength.
With that in mind, these movements are to be done with a balance of ease and effort. If you feel a lot of tightness or tension in your shoulders to begin with, do these first in a very easy and gentle manner. If you ever start experiencing pain, stop and consult someone who can help you find what will work to help your shoulders, and not cause any further pain.
Yoga shoulder stretches to improve mobility & strength
Yoga stretch 1 – Arms up and back
Stand with your feet hip width apart. Hold a strap or pole between your hands in front of your body. Inhale and lift your arms up, exhale and bring them back behind you. Do this 10 times. You may find that taking your arms back is harder. Keep your hands wide, breathe into your shoulders, and keep releasing your shoulder blades down towards your waist. Let the tops of your shoulders be as relaxed as possible.
Yoga stretch 2 – Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) with a strap or pole
Stand with your feet hip width apart. Hold the strap or pole behind your back with your palms facing behind you. Inhale and activate the muscles of your legs, exhale and fold forward, raising the strap or pole up and over as far as you can, while keeping your elbows straight. Stay for 3-5 breaths and then inhale to come up as you lengthen your tailbone, lifting through the pit of your abdomen.
Yoga stretch 3 – Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) Arms
Stand or sit with your spine tall and extended. Take the left arm overhead then bend the elbow, bringing your palm into your upper back. Take your right arm behind your back, bend your elbow and bring the back of your hand up your spine. Join the fingers or hands together. If that is not possible use a strap between your two hands. Take the right shoulder back and down and point the left elbow up. Ground down through your feet if standing, through your sitting bones if sitting, and then lift up through both side bodies evenly. Soften your front ribs, tongue, and eyes. Stay for 5-10 breaths, and then switch sides.
Practicing the yoga stretches for shoulders outlined in this post and in Simple Yoga Stretches for Shoulders: Part 1 regularly will help to combat the hours spent on computer, the tension from driving in rush hour traffic, or from whatever makes your shoulders tense. They can help you sit and stand up straighter, breathe deeper, and improve digestion. To say nothing of how they will help in numerous other yoga poses that require the range of flexibility our shoulders are designed to have.
For overcoming lower back pain see our previous posts: