Restorative Shoulder Openers

Happy Saturday Yogis!

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite sequences to teach at the end of a vinyasa class that’s full of chaturangas and other poses that are weight bearing on the shoulders. This sequence should be done like hip opening, spending a good amount of time (20 breaths or so) on each side. These open the the anterior shoulder muscles, specifically the deltoids, traps, and pectoralis major. It also opens muscles that are part of the shoulder but you may consider back muscles like the rhomboids and posterior traps. If you are a typical vinyasa-junkie and have been ODing on chaturangas lately, consider the following.

Chaturanga strengthens many muscles, it’s an excellent shoulder strengthener appropriately nicknamed ‘the shoulder shredder.’ However, strong, tight pectoral muscles, if not adequately stretched, pull the shoulder blades, collarbones, and upper arm bones forward and inward, creating hunched shoulders and a closed chest. Trust me yogis, this is something I’ve struggled with for a long time.

An example of how this might effect another area of your practice is shoulderstand. Tight pecs and deltoids limit arm movement and chest opening in shoulderstand and backbends. In shoulderstand you need to pull your shoulders in as much as you can to keep your neck and spine free of weight, and if you’re all muscle and no mobility then that is going to be tough, and possibly dangerous.

Be cautious if you have shoulder injuries, these are intense openings but can be modified for any level of mobility. Don’t forget to breathe!

Sphinx pose. Use this as a 'reset' between sides of the following two poses

Sphinx pose. Use this as a ‘reset’ between sides of the following two poses

Thread the needle stretches the deltoids and triceps

Thread the needle stretches the deltoids and triceps.

I've heard this called 'wing pose,' but I like to call it 'pigeon for shoulders.' This stretches the traps and the anterior pecs, and creates a tourniquet effect, letting fresh oxygenated blood flow to the shoulder when the stretch is released.

I’ve heard this called ‘wing pose,’ but I like to call it ‘pigeon for shoulders.’ This stretches the traps and the anterior pecs, and creates a tourniquet effect, letting fresh oxygenated blood flow to the shoulder when the stretch is released.

Bleeding heart pose stretches the rhomboids and deltoids and provides relief for your rotator cuff and tendons.

Bleeding heart pose stretches the rhomboids and deltoids and provides relief for your rotator cuff and tendons.

 

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One thought on “Restorative Shoulder Openers

  1. […] Restorative Shoulder Openers (littlewindmillyoga.com) […]

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