Tension in the shoulders is a very common complaint nowadays as people spend long hours working on a computer or simply holding a lot of anger, tension and stress in the area. Releasing this tension through regular yoga practise is a great way to reduce stress and help to calm the mind and increase flexibility and motion in the shoulder joints, which in turn can help increase the flow of blood and oxygen around the upper body.
Here are The Centre’s four favourite poses to help ease shoulder pain.
Cow Face Pose
Directly targeting the shoulders, the Cow Face Pose or Gomukasana stretches the muscles in the upper back, arms and chest, opening the shoulders, relieving tension and making the joints and muscles more flexible with repeated practise.
Here is how The Centre recommends you get into the Cow Face Pose. Standing in Tadasana, place one hand behind your back. Keeping your shoulder away from your ear, bend the elbow and rest your hand against the middle of the spine. Now lift your right arm above your head, turn your hand to face behind you and bend from the elbow until your hands touch behind you. Breathe, release and repeat on the other side.
Threading the Needle Pose
Suitable for yoga students of all levels, the Threading the Needle pose or Parsva Balasana/ Sucirandhrasana stretches and opens the muscles in the inner and outer shoulder relieving tension and joint or muscle stiffness and pain.
To get into this pose, get into the table position with your hands and knees on the floor, as you exhale slide one arm under the other and rest the side of your face on the floor. Hold it for as long as is comfortable then release and do the same on the other side.
Eagle Arms Pose
By stretching the scapulas, the Eagle Arms pose or Garudasana creates space between the shoulders, allowing them to gently stretch and release tension.
Stretch your arms out in front of you, crossing the right over the left. Now bend your elbows, raising your forearms at the same time and placing your palms together. Keeping your shoulders away from your ears, gently lift your elbows and stretch your fingers up towards the ceiling.
By lifting the arms above the head this pose opens the muscles between the upper back and the shoulders; by bringing the strap over the head the body feels a wonderful opening of the chest and pectoral muscles. Muscles that often get shortened and tight by too much sitting and slouching.