Stiff Shoulders? Practice These 6 Yoga Poses to Find Relief

Stiff shoulders can create more than just discomfort. If ignored, they can limit range of motion, create tension headaches, or even lead to injuries. Improper posture, working long hours, sitting at a desk, and stress are all common causes of shoulder tension.

Practice These 10 Yoga Poses to Correct Bad Posture

But, the good news is that with a bit of attention, you can melt away your shoulder tension and accompanying stress with yoga for shoulders.

Try these shoulder openers whenever you’re feeling particularly tense or like your shoulders need some extra love.

Yoga for Shoulders – Practice These 6 Yoga Poses for Stiff Shoulders:

You’ll need a yoga belt and block to help with these poses. If you don’t have a yoga belt, you can use a scarf or even a long sleeve T-shirt.

1. Belt Shoulder Circles

Let’s try it:

  • Start in a comfortable standing position with your feet hip-width apart
  • Grab your belt with both hands and slide your hands away from each other, finding a comfortable distance wider than your shoulders
  • Begin making rotations up and around your head, trying to keep your arms straight as you do
  • Drop your right hand toward your hip as you extend your left arm overhead
  • Shift both arms behind your head, letting the weight of your arms fall back to open your chest
  • Bring your left hand down toward your right hip as you extend your right arm overhead
  • Complete the rotation by swinging your right arm in front of your body and returning to your starting position
  • Complete four to eight rounds and then switch directions



2. Cactus Arms to Eagle Arms


Let’s try it:

  • Start in Easy Seat (Sukhasana), stacking your shoulders over your hips and engaging your core
  • Inhale and lift your arms up to shoulder height
  • Bend your elbows making a 90-degree angle with your arms
  • Draw your fingers together and face your palms forward
  • Exhale and bring your arms in front of you and sweep your right arm under your left
  • Wrap your arms around each other, bringing your palms to touch
  • Lift your elbows toward the sky and pull your hands away from your face
  • Allow your shoulder blades to spread wide across your back
  • Inhale and unwind back to Cactus Arms
  • Exhale and repeat Eagle Arms, sweeping your left arm under this time
  • After four rounds of Cactus to Eagle Arms, hold Eagle Arms for four breaths and repeat again on the other side


3. Wing Pose


Let’s try it:

  • Start laying on your stomach with your legs long behind you
  • Extend your right arm out to the side with your palm face down, keeping it in line with your shoulder
  • Bend your left arm and place your hand on the mat close to your left shoulder
  • Press into your left hand and slowly roll onto your right side, keeping your right arm extended
  • Leave your legs long or kickstand your left leg behind your right for support
  • To increase the stretch across your chest, extend your left arm toward the ceiling, and then gently let it fall back
  • Lay your right cheek on the mat, or use a block to support your head
  • Hold for up to three minutes, taking full inhales and exhales, then unwind back to your belly
  • Stack your hands on top of each other and rest your forehead on your hands for a few breaths before repeating on the other side

Shoulder Pain? Here’s How to Modify 4 Common Yoga Poses for Shoulder Injuries

4. Straight Jacket Pose

Straight Jacket

Let’s try it:

  • Start in Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
  • Thread your right arm under your left, reaching for the left side of the mat
  • Cross your left arm on top of your right, reaching for the right side of the mat
  • Walk your hands as far toward the sides of your mat as you can so that your arms cross underneath your chest
  • Rest your chin over your arms or place your forehead on a block for support
  • Your palms can be face up or face down – find the position that feels best for your shoulders
  • Relax your neck and shoulders
  • Take slow inhales, and try to release a bit more tension with each exhale
  • Hold for up to three minutes before returning to Sphinx Pose to repeat on the other side

Stiff Neck? Use These 3 Simple Neck Stretches to Reduce Pain and Increase Mobility In Minutes

5. Cow Face Arms

Let’s try it:

  • Start in Easy Seat (Sukhasana)
  • Reach your right arm up to the sky with your palm facing forward
  • Bend your elbow bringing your right hand behind your neck toward your shoulder blades
  • Extend your left arm to the side
  • Internally rotate your left arm starting at your shoulder joint so that your palm faces back
  • Bend your elbow bringing your left hand behind your back and up toward your shoulders
  • Walk your hands toward each other until you can grasp a belt, the back of your shirt, or your fingertips
  • Keep your back straight, core engaged, and shoulders rolling down and back
  • Breathe gently, holding the pose for up to one minute
  • Slowly release, unwind, and shake out your arms and shoulders before doing the second side



6. Bound Wide-Legged Forward Fold

Wide Leg Forward Fold

Let’s try it:

  • Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) facing the long end of your mat
  • Step your feet wide, bringing the outside of your feet parallel to the short ends of your mat
  • Press into all four corners of both feet and lift through your arches
  • Activate your quads, lifting them up away from your knees
  • Reach your hands behind your back and either hold a belt or interlace your fingers
  • Inhale to lengthen your spine and lift your chest
  • Exhale to hinge forward at your hips, keeping your spine long
  • Release tension in your neck as you let your head hang down
  • Allow your hands to hang heavy, deepening the shoulder stretch
  • Keep your arms and legs as straight as you can without hyperextending
  • Stay here for up to 10 breaths

Tight Shoulders? Practice These 4 Yoga Poses to Increase Shoulder Mobility

Yoga for Shoulders Can Help Alleviate Your Excessively Stiff Shoulders

You can do this yoga for shoulders practice all at once when you’re feeling a lot of tension, or you can disperse these poses throughout your day.

Integrate these yoga poses as part of your regular self-care routine, and you’ll feel like you have a new pair of shoulders in no time. Say goodbye to stiff shoulders forever!

Ready to Release Your Stiff Shoulders?

Practice Shoulders, Chest, and Upper Back as part of your Flexibility & Mobility program with Kelly Pender on YA Classes!

Yoga Program
With Kelly Pender

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Tonya Wetzel

Tonya is a 200hr RYT based in Coastal Mississippi. She loves that she gets to share the joy and healing that yoga brought to her life. In addition to teaching yoga, she flips houses with her husband. Tonya is a travel enthusiast who loves the outdoors and adventure. You'll find her at the local beach, volunteering at the animal shelter, and playing with her forever and foster dogs.

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