I don’t know about you, but my shoulders are where I hold the most tightness. I don’t have as much range of motion as in other joints.
Having tightness in this area can not only affect your time on your mat (Working on backbends? You need to open your shoulders and not just prep your spine) but also your day to day actions.
These poses will help to get fluidity and ease into your mobility in this area.
You will want a yoga strap, theraband or soft belt for this sequence.
1. Breathwork – Begin lying down on your back. Reach your arms back overhead. Check in that your low back hasn’t lifted. If so, press it in to the mat. Keep the back of your palms pushing into the mat. You may already be feeling a stretch here. Keep knees bent or extend legs to deeper. As you inhale (through the nose) fill your low belly with the breath. As you exhale (also through the nose) push your rib cage down – as if someone is pushing on your chest. Hold for about 10 breaths or so. Take a gentle twist with both knees to one side, and then the other.
2. Shoulder Flossing – Come to a seat and grab your strap. Extend the arms out straight (try not to bend the elbows if you can). Inhale to lift the arms all the way up. Exhale to slowly take the arms back and down. Hold the strap as wide as you need. Try to keep the ribs neutral and not flaring. Reverse to come forward. Then repeat. Do several rounds. You might want to pause and hold in a sticky spot for a full breath round.
3. Puppy Pose – Come to table top. Keep the hips over the knees. Walk the hands out and try to bring the forehead to the floor. If you’re really tight, you can bend the elbows and lower to forearms. To deepen, I like to hold the corners of the mat and come to the chin. If this puts strain in your neck don’t take this variation.
4. Lying Chest Opener – Come down onto your belly. Open the right arm out to the side in a 90 degree angle, with the palm flat to the floor. Roll onto the right hip, shoulder, and ear. Press the left hand into the mat in front of you, or bring it back behind your hip. Maybe stepping the right foot back to add more weight. This shouldn’t be painful, just enough to feel the stretch. Keep the breath slow and steady. After a moment, return to center and then repeat to the other side.
5. Dolphin Pose – Bring the forearms to the mat. Have them a bit narrower than shoulder width apart. Tuck the toes and lift the hips up. Bend the knees and try to press the chest towards the thighs. Keep the crown lifted. Don’t worry about getting the heels down.
6. Downward Dog – Lift up to the palms. Try and find that same range here with the chest pressing towards the thighs. Keep the knees bent. Again focus more on upper body than getting the heels down.
7. Rag Doll – Walk the feet to the top of the mat. Widen the feet to the edges of the mat, bend the knees. Interlace the hands behind your lower back. Use a strap if you can’t clasp the knuckles. Lift the knuckles up and over. Relax the head and the neck. Lean onto the right thigh, bringing the right shoulder towards the leg. Lift the left shoulder up, as if you are looking under the left shoulder. Take a few rounds of breath. Then come back through center, and take to the left. Come back to center and release the arms down. Hold the elbows and sway side to side.
These 7 poses come from a 15 minute yoga class on my channel and app. Practice with me below.