Yoga for Tight Shoulders

If you’ve been sitting behind a computer, hunched over a phone, or sitting in traffic for way too long, this yoga sequence will help you release tension in your shoulders, neck and upper back. This short, effective chest opening yoga flow is ideal for the end of the day when you need to decompress and calm yourself.

Center: Abdominal Breathing

Sit comfortably and bring your awareness to your breath. Draw your breath down into your abdomen, feeling your stomach expand outward. It helps to bring your hands to your stomach to feel your abdomen moving with the breath. 

Spine Opener: Cactus Pose

Cactus pose. Create a cactus shape with your arms. Draw your shoulder blades together, pressing the chest forward. Be sure to keep the elbows aligned with the shoulders.

Round in. Then draw your elbows and forearms together. Create a C-shape with your back as you draw your shoulders blades away from each other.

Cow Pose to Down Dog

Cow Pose. Place your palms on the mat and come onto your hands and knees. Ensure your shoulders are over your wrists. Your knees are about hips distance apart. Inhale into Cow Pose by lowering your abdomen, lifting your head and pelvis.

Down Dog. Exhale – press your hips up, shifting your weight back coming into downward facing dog. Inhale, lower the knees coming back into cow pose. Exhale, press the hips up and back into downward facing dog. Repeat 3-5 times flowing with the breath. End in downward facing dog.

Warrior I

Warrior I. Extend your right leg behind you and sweep it forward between your hands. Turn your back foot to a 45 degrees angle. Lift your torso coming up into Warrior I or Virabrasana I. Keep the shoulders and hips square. Bring your hands to your hips. Ensure your knee does not come over the ankle. Press the entire edge of the back foot into the mat. Bring your palms to the mat and transition to the other side through down dog. (Repeat on both sides)

Next come into Virabrasana I and interlace your hands behind your back. Extend your knuckles down, rolling the shoulders together opening through the chest. Lift the chest and sink down through the front knee deeper. Hold for 5 counts and then repeat on the other side. End in Down Dog.

Warrior II to Side Angle Pose

Extended Side Angle

Warrior II. Step your right foot forward, turn your back foot flat. Lift the torso, rotating your hips towards the side edge of your mat as you cartwheel your hands long at shoulder height coming in Warrior or Virabrasana II. Hold for 3-5 counts.

Extended side angle. Lower your right forearm to your right thigh and sweep your left arm overhead. Sweep your arm in large circles to open your shoulder.

Bring your palms to the mat and transition to the other side through down dog.

Forward Fold

Forward Fold. Walk to the front of your mat. Fold forward with your feet hips distance apart. Hold for several breaths.

Add a twist. Slightly bend your left knee. Bring your right palm to the mat or a block in front of your foot. Twist towards the left extending your left hand upward. Rotate your arm and bring your palm to your low back or your right thigh. Repeat on the opposite side.

Forward Fold

Utkatasana

Utktasana or Chair Pose. Bend your knees, sinking your hips back as if sitting in a chair. With your weight in your heels, peel your torso off your thighs, lifting your chest. Extend your arms towards the ceiling. Hold for 5 counts.

Sweep. Take a deep inhale. On your exhale, fold forward, breathing out strongly through your mouth creating an ahhh sound. Swing your arm freely by your side.

Inhale deeply with knees slightly bent coming back into Utkatasana, then sweep forward. Repeat several times (5-8).

Plank

Plank. Fold forward and step back into plank pose. Bring your shoulders over your wrists. Lower your sit bones, creating a slope from your head to your heels. Hold 5 counts.

Sphinx

Sphinx. Lower down onto your stomach. Bring your elbows alongside your chest so your forearms are flat on your mat. Draw your shoulders blades together, pressing your chest forward. Hold a few breaths. Then drop your chin to your chest and roll it from one shoulder to the other a few times.

Child's Pose to Eye of Needle

Child’s Pose. Bring your big toes to touch. Open your knees about the width of your mat so your torso rests comfortably in between your thighs. Fold forward, bringing your forehead to the mat. Extend your arms long.

Eye of the needle. Press into your palms lifting your torso. Slide your right arm under your left laying onto your entire shoulder.  Ensure your palm aligns with your shoulder. For a bigger shoulder opener, bring your left palm to your low back or upper right thigh. Unravel and repeat on the other side.

Centering

Centering. Come into a comfortable cross-legged position. Bring your hands to your knees. Take a moment to come back to your breath. Practice your abdominal breathing again.

Lay down on your back with your arms by your side for Svasana.