Yoga for Shoulder Injuries
How to Do Shoulder Exercises in Yoga
Whether your shoulders are tight and sore from long office days, or you simply want to increase your shoulder strength, there’s a yoga pose that can help you! Start with the basic Mountain Pose and move your way up to more complex positions like the Bow Pose to help your shoulder muscles become stronger and healthier.
Try some simple breathing exercises first.Stand while looking straight ahead and breathe deeply while slowly stretching your arms out to the side and lifting them over your head. This will help relax your body as you move into more strenuous positions.
Get into position for Mountain Pose.Mountain Pose is one of the basic yoga poses, and many of the more advanced poses start with it. By doing this simple pose early on you'll be able to loosen up the muscles of your legs, arms, and shoulders, giving you good stamina and balance for the rest of your workout.
- Stand with your arms at your sides, your big toes together, and your heels separate. The outer edges of your feet should be parallel to each other.
- Put all your weight on your heels, then slowly shift your weight to your toes, and then shift your weight back to the middle of your feet to find your central balance point again.
- Stretch your entire torso while engaging your core and breathing slowly and deeply. Your quadriceps should be engaged and lifting your kneecaps. Your shoulder blades should be relaxed with your arms hanging at your sides.
Do the Crescent Moon Pose.Crescent Moon Pose begins as a Mountain Pose and is very easy to do! This is another simple, basic yoga pose that will help your shoulders gain strength and flexibility.
- Begin in Mountain Pose.
- Lift your arms up above your head and bring your palms together and clasp your fingers, but point your index fingers upwards. You may also place a block between your palms if you cannot touch them together.
- Move your hips to the left then forward and move your torso to the right at the same time. It should look like your body is moving between 2 panes of glass.
- Hold the pose for a moment while breathing deeply, then return to Mountain Pose with your hands clasped over your head.
- Do the same motion as before, only with the opposite side of your body.
- Let your arms fall and relax before beginning the next pose.
Do the Upward Facing Dog Pose.This pose will help you exercise shoulder muscles you don’t use often and will prepare you for higher-intensity workouts later.
- Lie flat on your stomach with your arms at your sides.
- Rest the palms of your hands on the mat so that they are aligned with your chest, and then slowly slide them back until your elbows are pointing upward.
- Push with your hands to lift your torso up and forward until your hips are off the ground. This should look and feel somewhat like a half-push-up. Your core and thighs should also be engaged as you press into the mat. Make sure to keep your shoulders down and back as you do this.
- Hold the Upward Facing Dog pose for a few moments while breathing slowly and deeply, then return to a relaxed position.
Take a short stretching break.Be careful of pushing yourself too hard, especially if you’re a yoga beginner! There are plenty of modifications you can try. Always listen to your body if you feel pain and modify the poses as needed. Stretch each arm and leg as far as it will go, then stretch your neck and back, rotating each once.
Moving Into High-Intensity Shoulder Poses
Relax and breathe.These poses can be difficult, so it’s important to prepare your mind and body. After your stretching break, take a few minutes to simply relax all your muscles. Breathe slowly and deeply for several minutes to return your body to a resting state before beginning more advanced poses.
Do the Gate Pose.The Gate Pose is perfect for improving your lung capacity and shoulder flexibility. This pose will help you gradually increase your strength and flexibility in preparation for the next pose.
- Kneel on your mat.
- Stretch your right leg out to the side so that the sole of your foot is resting on the floor with your leg straight.
- Stretch your right arm out and then downward until it is touching the area of the floor past your foot. If you can't reach the floor, then rest your hand on your leg or your foot.
- Stretch the left side of your torso, gradually bringing your left arm toward your left ear and stopping wherever is comfortable for you. Hold the pose for a moment before slowly returning to your starting position the same way you got into the pose.
- Check your shoulders to make sure they are not pulling up towards your ears, and make sure that your chest is open and not caving in.
- Repeat Gate Pose with the left side of the body.
Take a short stretching break.Think about what muscles and poses you found the most difficult, and try to gently stretch those muscles a little before moving on to the next position. Pay special attention to your shoulders, especially if your shoulder muscles seem sore or tight.
Do the Bow Pose.You'll be using every muscle in your body in this challenging pose to enhance your chest, back, and shoulder strength. Don’t worry if you can’t get this pose right the first few times--it takes practice!
- Lie face-down on the mat and breathe deeply.
- Bend your knees upwards and grab the outside of your ankles while keeping your knees in line with your hips.
- Breathe in deeply and then exhale. Kick your feet back and lift your chest forward and up. Repeat this and go deeper into the pose after every exhale. You may notice that your body rocks forward naturally as you do this.
- Hold the pose while breathing slowly four times.
- Return to the starting position and relax your body. Rest for a moment and get ready for the cool-down!
Take another short stretching break.It’s especially important to stretch after a difficult pose like the Upward Facing Bow--otherwise, your muscles might tense up and cause strain. Use the same stretches you did during your warm-up.
Do the Seated Forward Bend Pose.This pose might look familiar to you--it’s very similar to a seated toe touch! Like the Upward Facing Dog Pose, this pose stretches your arms and shoulders gently, helping to develop new muscle definition and ease any tightness or cramping.
- Sit upright on the mat with your arms at your sides and legs pointed straight out in front of you. Walk your hips backwards 2 to 3 times to find your sit bones.
- Raise your arms above your head while allowing a natural curve in your back and engaging your core. Make sure your shoulders are not lifting up as you do this. You may also want t use a block if you find it hard to bring your hands together above your head.
- Slowly bend forward while keeping your arms raised. Remember to bend from the hips only--don’t let your back bend! You can stop as soon as you can’t bend your hips anymore.
- Lower your hands onto your legs or feet. It’s okay if you can’t touch your feet.
- Slowly lift your arms up so that they are parallel to the floor.
- Slowly raise your torso back up into a sitting position while breathing deeply.
Return to Mountain Pose.Mountain Pose is a great way to end your workout--it’s a simple, basic position that lightly stretches you and gets your mind and body ready to transition out of workout mode.
Breathe slowly and deeply.End your workout by resting in a sitting position on your mat and breathing slowly and deeply for several minutes. While breathing, be sure to check for any signs of strain or soreness!
- While the goal is to stretch and build strength, it is possible to strain your shoulders doing these exercises. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a yoga regimen and modify the poses as needed. Check for alternatives online or ask a yoga teacher.
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