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Release those Stiff Shoulders!

Why do we tend to see people with stiff shoulders or experience the discomfort of it ourselves? Most of the times the culprit is our daily lifestyle and what it demands from us. There is no doubt that modern lifestyle and technology offer countless benefits—it’s an ever-growing source of information and inspiration and keeps us easily connected to our loved ones. But the truth is, many of us spend hours and hours sitting in front of our computers or hunched over our mobile phones and tablets, and the course of this routine can cause a strain on the shoulders. This slumping posture pushes our shoulder blades away from the spine and in turn over stretches and weakens the muscles around them, resulting in stiff shoulders.

So what can we do to help ourselves or others? Try out these simple yet effective yogic techniques.

Hand to Elbow

  • Begin this pose by standing comfortably with the spine erect.
  • Inhale and raise the right arm straight into the air.
  • Exhale and bend the elbow, and drop your right hand on your back between the shoulder blades.
  • Inhale and raise your left arm straight up.
  • Exhale and place your left hand on the right elbow.
  • Inhale, and on the exhalation, gently press on the right elbow to intensify the stretch.
  • This pose stretches the front of the shoulders, triceps, and the back of the neck.
  • Hold the position for 8-10 breaths.
  • An advanced alternative is to bring the left arm down and grab the right hand behind the back, and pull slightly to intensify the stretch.
  • You can also hold this position for 8-10 breaths.
  • Exhale and release both arms.
  • Switch sides and repeat.

Backward Hand Clasp

  • Inhale and interlock your fingers behind your lower back and press your palms together opening up your shoulders and chest.
  • Exhale and slowly lift the arms as high as you can until you feel the stretch in the front of your shoulders.
  • Hold the position for 8-10 breaths.
  • Exhale and release your hands.

Shoulder Rolls

  • Inhale and place your fingertips on top of your shoulders.
  • Exhale, bringing your elbows out in front of you.
  • Slowly inhale and roll your arms and elbows up and try touching the sides of your arms to your ears as you bring them up.
  • Slowly exhale and roll your arms back and down and bring your elbows to the side.
  • Repeat this for 8-10 breaths, and then release the arms.
  • In addition to these warm up exercises, 2 yogasanas are very beneficial for shoulder relief.

Garudasana (Seated Eagle Pose)

  • Start by sitting in a comfortable posture, such as vajrasana, or even on the edge of a sturdy chair.
  • Extend the arms out and cross the right arm over the top of the left, elbow over elbow.
  • Raise the forearm upwards, pointing the left thumb towards your face, and move the right arm forward, and to the right, and try to bring the palms together in front of the face.
  • Gently stretch the arms up while keeping the shoulders in 1 line as you lift the arms.
  • Hold this position for 6-8 breaths.
  • To come out, bring the elbows down to the ribs, unravel the arms, and release.
  • Repeat this on the other side.

Bhujangasana (King Cobra Pose)

  • Start with laying down flat on your stomach. Place your hands to your sides and ensure that your toes touch each other.
  • Now place your palms on the floor next to your shoulders.
  • Inhale and raise your head, chest and trunk off the floor. Note that your arms should be bent at your elbows at this stage.
  • Then, slowly straighten the arms, arch from your lower back, and look up.
  • Press your hips, thighs, and feet into the floor.
  • Hold the position for 6-8 breaths.
  • To release, slowly exhale, bending the elbows and bringing your trunk, chest and head down to the floor again.

Yoga is a wonderful way to accomplish both stretching and strengthening of the shoulder joints and muscles in a gentle and effective way. Our shoulder joint has the widest range of motion in comparison to any joint in the body and we need smooth shoulder movements for so many of our daily activities. So, take care of the shoulder region by practicing these exercises, as well being more mindful and aware of your daily posture. Take the time to sit, stand, and walk, by intentionally correcting your posture and your body will surely thank you.

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