Shoulder pain can go away with yoga!

Yoga teacher stretching her shoulders with shoulder opening asanas.

There are a variety of shoulder opening yoga positions that you can practice anywhere and at anytime for tension release. It is also important to remember that the shoulders work in conjunction with other parts of your body: your chest and back.

If any of these areas of the body are experiencing tightness, you may want to focus on poses that target the shoulders as well as these complimentary body parts. The following yoga postures and stretches will effectively help you enhance mobility and flexibility in your shoulders and also open up your chest and back.

Arms Overhead

While sitting upright with a lengthened spine, raise both arms into the air. Bend your arms and grab hold of the opposite elbows with your hands. Notice the crossing of your arms while in this position. After you have held the pose for some time, you will switch your arms, crossing them the other way.

Hold your arms in this position for at least 10 slow, deep breaths. Notice the sensations in your shoulders. This particularly targets the rear and side deltoids. These are the small muscle-groupings of the shoulders that are affected by this active stretch. When you are complete, unbind your arms. You can bring them down by your side to relax for a few moments. Then practice the stretch again with the switched hand-hold on your elbows.

Interlace Fingers Behind Back

If you have a high back chair, you may need to change your position to perform this next shoulder stretch. Come to a standing position or make your way to a seated position on the floor. You will need room behind you.

With your spine well lengthened, reach your arms behind you. If you're able, interlace your fingers. If you are unable to do so, you can simply reach back with active arms and hands. In this position your shoulders naturally roll back to open the front deltoids. This part of the shoulder ties into the pectoral muscles. In a hunched over posture, like driving a car or typing on a computer, these muscles become very tight. By holding your arms behind you, these muscles stretch to release the binds that tighten this area. Hold the posture for 10 deep breaths to effectively open up your shoulders and improve your posture. When you are complete, let your arms hang down by your side to relax.

Eagle Pose Arms

This yoga pose can be done seated or standing. It is called Eagle Pose and is very useful for releasing shoulder tension. This is commonly practiced as a standing balancing posture, but since there are arm gestures in this pose, you can do it while sitting to focus on your arms.

Start by extending both arms into the air. Slowly bring your arms down in front of you, cross your left arm behind your right arm at your elbows. This will form an X-shape. While keeping your arms crossed, bend your elbows to raise your hands. As you are able, intertwine your arms, wrapping them around each other and interlace your fingers. It is okay if you are not able to wrap your arms. In both cases, your elbows will be lifted and pointing forward. This will create a stretch sensation in your upper back and your rear deltoids. Lift your elbows a bit until they are on the same level as your shoulders. Hold the Eagle Arm posture for 10 slow, deep breaths.

You will need to do this on the other side for balance. When complete, allow your arms to rest down by your side. Then practice the pose on the other side; start with your right arm crossed behind your left arm.

As with many poses that involve a stretch quality, it is important to hold them for a long period of time. You want to send a signal to these tight muscle areas that this is an opportunity for release.

The muscle fibers in their held stretched position can effectively open up. Your shoulders, therefore, will have greater mobility and overall functionality when you practice these yoga postures.

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