RELEASE TIGHT SHOULDERS

Here is a fairly quick and easy sequence of yoga poses you can do to release tightness in your shoulders; whether it be from a strong workout, stress from work or as a parent taking care of small kids.

Also check out the YouTube videos listed to the right. Practice with me in real-time as i lead you through a routine to help release tension and tightness from your upper body.

As for the 8 yoga poses in this blog post, please do them in the sequence presented.

Tune into your breath. Make sure you breathe conscious breath cycles (inhale fully and exhale completely) and breathe 5-10 breath cycles for each yoga pose.

The entire sequence should take no more than 15 minutes, depending on how deeply you breathe and hold each position. Try not to rush. Try to be patient and take your time so you can feel the tension releasing as you fully exhale.

I hope these yoga poses and the videos can serve your shoulders and upper body in the best way possible. Please share with me if it is.

Love & Light,

Anita Goa

1. SHOULDER CIRCLES

Sit cross legged in easy seat (Sukhasana) or sit in a chair is fine too. Bend arms at shoulder level, rest hands on shoulders. 

First GIF shows circular movements in a forward movement; inhale half circle (forward and up), exhale the rest of the circle (back and down) on this movement. Do 5-10 cycles here.

Second GIF shows circular movements in the backward direction; inhale back and up half circle, exhale up and to the front, the rest of the circle. Do 5-10 cycles here.

Benefit: This warms up and lubricates shoulder joints. It also helps to increase range of motion and release tension/tightness from shoulders.

2. FINGERS INTERLACED

Sit in Sukhasana (easy seat, cross-legged like i am in this photo), but you can also sit in a chair or be standing.

Interlace your fingers (notice how you interlace) and change interlacing.

Interlace your fingers behind your back (first right index finger onto of the left, hold for 5 breath cycles, then repeat interlacing left index fingers onto of the right and hold for 5 breath cycles). You will notice a different stretch when you change the interlacing.

Engage your core, keep chest lifted, drop your shoulders, gaze toward the sun (or the moon 🙂

Benefit: Stretches muscles of chest, front shoulders, strengthens muscles of the back, fantastic posture enhancer.

3. EAGLE ARMS

Sit in Sukhasana (easy seat, cross-legged like i am in this photo), but you can also sit in a chair or be standing.

With arms at shoulder height in a T position, cross right arm over left, bend elbows so you can interlace at elbows, so wrists/forearms and palms touch. Life elbows up to shoulder height (as much as you can), lift breast bone, roll shoulders back and drop them into shoulder socket.

Take 5-10 breath cycles. breaths. Release the arms and repeat on the opposite side.

Benefit: Stretches the rear shoulders, i feel this “airs out” tension between shoulder blades (rhomboids).

4. COW’S FACE ARMS

Sit in Sukhasana (easy seat) or Cow’s Face/Gomukasana legs as in photo), but you can also sit in a chair or be standing.

Face your right palm forward and left palm backward.

Reach your right arm up. now your palm will be facing back.

Reach your left arm behind you.

Bend both elbows and walk your fingers toward each other along your back until they clasp. If you can’t clasp use a strap. Hold for 5-10 complete breath cycles, then switch sides.

You will most probably notice there is a difference between each side of your body, that is normal, but if there is a huge discrepancy between each side it shows a big imbalance. Notice how this changes over time. They will most probably never be equal in flexibility, but work your way toward them being as equal as possible.

Benefit: Lubricates the shoulder joints, increase flexibility in the entire shoulder joint, including biceps on the lower arm, and triceps in the upper arm.

5. REVERSE NAMASTE

Sit in Sukhasana (easy seat, cross-legged like i am in this photo), but you can also sit in a chair or be standing.

Start with your arms at the side of your body, turn palms to face back, bend elbows and place your finger tips together. From here internally rotate your hands up along your spine until hands are between your shoulder blades. Lift breast bone, roll shoulders back, draw shoulder blades together to get palms to to touch.

This is a challenging yoga pose, take your time. Hold for 5-10 breath cycles.

If it’s too much to get to this position, keep your fingers pointing down, or hold onto your elbows.

Video Tutorial: Follow the video tutorial (listed on the right) on how to do this yoga pose. In the video i also share ways to release tight areas to make it easier.

6. NECK RELEASE

Sit in Sukhasana (easy seat, cross-legged like i am in this photo), but you can also sit in a chair or be standing.

With arms behind your back hold onto your elbows, sit tall and let your head “drop” to the left and feel the stretch in the right side of your neck. Hold for 5-10 breath cycles. Slowly roll your head to the centre and lift back up to starting position. Repeat to the right side and feel the stretch to the left side of your neck.

Benefit: Helps to release tension in the side of the neck, top of the shoulder as well as back of the neck.

7. RECLINE OVER BLOCKS

You will need a yoga block for this, or a rolled up blanket/pillow.

Lie on your back. Place one yoga block under your shoulder blades (choose a level that works for your spinal flexibility) and where your head can rest on the floor for support (or use a second block under your head if you are in need of extra support). Hold the pose for 5-10 breath cycles. Breathe deeply, relax your arms, and enjoy the opening.

To come out of the pose, roll over to your side, slide the block or blanket/pillow to the side and roll over onto your back to let your spine settle before you proceed to the next pose.

Benefit: Opens up your upper body, front shoulders, chest, abdomen, hips.

8. LEGS UP THE WALL

You will need a wall for this one, or a tree (something to rest your legs on).

Begin by sitting with your left hip against a wall. Lower yourself down to your back and swing your legs up against the wall. If your hamstrings are tight, move further away from the wall so your legs are on an incline to make room for your hamstrings to feel comfortable. You can also keep your legs slightly bent. Spend some time to make yourself comfortable.

Rest your arms alongside your body, or keep one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Close your eyes and tune in to your breath. Hold the pose for as long as you can. 5 minutes would be great. If you have time to do 20 minutes sometime, do it, it will help to re-set your nervous system, and is said to be equivalent of 2 hours of sleep (!).

To come out of it, bend your legs and roll over to your side. Stay there for a little and then gradually come to a seated position. You might feel a bit yoga drunk, which means super relaxed and in a state of bliss. No more shoulder tension? 🙂

Benefit: Legs up the wall relaxes your mind and body and will in return release the tension in your shoulders and upper body. It is an inversion and good for the heart and nervous system; blood/lymph is drained from the legs and returns to the heart.

YOUTUBE VIDEOS

On my YouTube channel Anita Goa TV i offer a lot of yoga videos for various body parts. Here are 3 short and effective videos for releasing tension and tightness in your shoulder and upper body. I hope you enjoy them. Let me know if you do.

15 MINUTE YOGA ROUTINE FOR UPPER BODY

20 MINUTE UPPER BODY STRETCH INCLUDING NECK AND WRISTS

4 YOGA STRETCHES FOR UPPER BODY / POST-WORKOUT STRETCH

TUTORIAL REVERSE NAMASTE

Photos and GIFs by Alia Wilhelm. You can view more of her work at www.aliawilhelm.com

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