Asanas for Opening Up the Shoulders

Today I am going to share some stretchy and strength building asanas and movements to help open up and strengthen the shoulder area. You can intigrate some or all of these into your personal practice. You can also use any of them after a workout to help loosen up the shoulders.

First of all warm yourself up with some Sun Salutations.

Let’s start with a Locust / Cobra series.

IMG_5803 Start on all fours with knees under hips and hands under shoulders. Walk down onto your forearms and walk the knees back until the core engages. Take a breath then lower the hips to the ground. Relax the shoulder blades, lengthen through the lower back. Take 3 – 5 solid breaths.

 

IMG_5804Next lower down to the ground sliding your hands back to the sides of your chest. Forehead is on the mat and everything relaxed. Pull the elbows back like you want to touch them behind your back and then back towards your heels.  Hover your hands an inch off the ground and pinch the shoulderblades. Lower down then press into the ground using only your arms to pick up your chest. Head and feet are neutral, no tension.

 

IMG_5819Lower to the floor once more sliding the hands back to the sides of the thighs palm up. As you breath in peal the chest up, the head comes up then finally the hands. Pinch the shoulder blades and reach the finger tips back. Relax the feet.

 

IMG_6210Sit back into childs pose to round the spine. Come forward onto all fours then walk the hands foreward sinking the chest down and keeping the tail bone up. 3 -5 breaths. Come up halfway slide the right hand one handspan towards you, slide the left hand between the right hand and knee, drop the left shoulder and ear to the floor. Extend the right arm forward. 3- 5 breaths each side.

 

IMG_6208Come back on all fours then back into Downward facing dog. Lower onto the forearms. You can also bend the knees as much as you need here. Expect to come off the heels. Look forward between the hands arching the spine and hold for 3 breaths. Push back using the hands until your ears are parallel to your arms. 3 more breaths.

 

 

 

 

IMG_6198Come back into Downdog then float or step into a forward fold. Roll the spine up bringing the hands to heart center. Bring the hands up almost brushing the face then over head. Drop the arms 20 degrees, drop the hands back behind the head, lengthen through the lower spine and arch through the upper spine gazing up.

 

 

 

 

Bring the arms back up over head, round the spine, slight tuck to the pelvis and drop the head. Grab one wrist and pull it towards the opposite shoulder. Move it around until you feel a nice release. Come back up then do the other side.

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IMG_6204 Come down to the floor grabbing a block. Place the block approximating between your shoulder blades allowing for the head to freely fall back. Relax back for 5 breaths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6206Bring the hands to heart center and with the next breath reach them up. 3 -5 breaths.

 

 

 

 

IMG_6205With the next breath out drop the hands back behind your head. 3-5 breaths.

 

 

 

 

IMG_6203Finally sit up for a moment so you can bring your feet together in Bound Angle or Lotus pose. Lay back once more onto your block and relax the head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_6899Come back onto all fours. Slide the right foot back and place it int a line with the left foot. Top of the left foot is down. Shift the weight into the left hand and shin. Bring the right arm straight out from your shoulder and as you breath in move slowly to open your heart to the side of your mat. Pull in and up on your navel and look up.

 

 

IMG_6900With the next breath in pick up your back foot and reach your top arm over head to the front of your mat. Actively reach your heel and finger tips away from each other.

 

 

 

Breath in and slide your foot back about 1 to 2 feet behind you touching the toe or ball of the foot, broaden your sternum to the sky and turn your hip up. Let your head and arm drop back. 3-5 breaths.

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You’ll notice as you open your shoulders your chest and upper spine also gets opened. Your hips opening will also help with your shoulders. The whole body is one holistic machine working in conjunction with all its parts. Happy stretching!

 

 

 

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