Yoga Poses for Tight Shoulders: Relief Techniques

The shoulder is a complex joint with multiple muscles involved. Yoga can help relieve tightness and tension in the shoulders through specific poses and sequences. These poses target the neck, back, and shoulders, providing relief and increasing flexibility. Some examples of yoga poses for tight shoulders include Marjaryasana (Cat Pose), Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose), Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose), and Garudasana (Eagle Pose). In Rishikesh Yogdham we will practice these poses regularly to release tension and improve shoulder mobility.

Key Takeaways:

Yoga Poses for Tight Shoulders
Yoga Poses for Tight Shoulders
  • Yoga poses can help relieve tightness and tension in the shoulders.
  • Specific poses target the neck, back, and shoulders for relief and increased flexibility.
  • Examples of yoga poses for tight shoulders include MarjaryasanaPrasarita PadottanasanaBhujangasanaUttana ShishosanaDhanurasanaNatarajasana, and Garudasana.
  • Regular practice of these poses can release tension and improve shoulder mobility.
  • Consult with a yoga instructor for proper form and modifications.

Marjaryasana (Cat Pose)

Yoga Poses for Tight Shoulders

Marjaryasana, also known as Cat Pose, is a gentle movement that targets the neck, back, and shoulders. Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. On an exhale, round your spine towards the ceiling, pressing through your palms and allowing your shoulder blades to glide apart. Release your head towards the floor, bringing your chin towards your chest. This pose provides excellent relief for tight shoulders in a gentle way.

Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)

Prasarita Padottanasana, or Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend, is an effective yoga pose for relieving shoulder tension and stretching the deltoid and trapezius muscles. While it is commonly known for its benefits in hamstring and lower body flexibility, the specific hand placement in this pose can provide tremendous relief to the shoulders.

To practice Prasarita Padottanasana, begin by standing with your feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands together behind your back, interlacing the fingers with your thumbs resting on your sitting bones. Take a deep breath in, lengthening your spine, and exhale as you gently fold forward from the hip joints, maintaining an open torso.

As you fold forward, continue pressing your knuckles towards the ceiling while keeping your arms straight. This action helps to release tension in the deltoids and trapezius muscles, promoting flexibility and relaxation in the shoulders. Feel the stretch in the back of your legs and allow your head to relax towards the ground.

Hold this pose for a few breaths, allowing your body to deepen into the stretch with each exhale. As you practice Prasarita Padottanasana regularly, you will notice a significant improvement in shoulder mobility and an overall release of tension in the shoulder region.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Yoga Poses for Tight Shoulders

Bhujangasana, also known as Cobra Pose, is a powerful yoga posture that provides relief from shoulder pain and tension. This pose effectively opens the chest and releases tension in the trapezius muscles.

To practice Bhujangasana, begin by lying on your mat with your legs extended behind you. Place your hands underneath your shoulders, keeping your elbows tucked in close to your body. As you inhale, press through your hands to lift your chest off the mat. Simultaneously, gently pull your shoulder blades back to open up the chest and create a deeper stretch in the shoulders. Ensure that the arch in your back comes from the upper spine rather than excessive pressure on the lower back. Hold the pose for a few breaths, and then release back down to the mat.

Bhujangasana provides a profound stretch to the chest and shoulders while improving overall shoulder flexibility. Regular practice of this pose can help alleviate shoulder pain, strengthen the muscles supporting the shoulder blades, and increase range of motion in the shoulders.

Rishikesh Yog Dham offers a 300-hour yoga teacher training course in Rishikesh based on traditional Hatha vinyasa yoga and is registered with Yoga Alliance USA as RYS 300.

Elevate your yoga practice by incorporating Bhujangasana into your routine, and experiencing the benefits of this chest- and shoulder-opening pose.

Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)

Yoga Poses for Tight Shoulders

Uttana Shishosana, also known as Extended Puppy Pose, is a rejuvenating yoga asana that provides numerous benefits for the shoulders, neck, and spine. This pose combines the elements of Child’s Pose and Downward-Facing Dog, allowing for a gentle release of tension in the upper body while lengthening the spine.

To practice Uttana Shishosana, start in a tabletop position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Walk your hands forward while keeping your arms straight and your elbows slightly bent. As you do this, move your buttocks halfway back towards your heels on an exhale. Lower your forehead to the floor and allow your neck to relax completely.

As you settle into the pose, continue to press down through your hands, feeling a gentle stretch through your arms, shoulders, and upper back. You can also slightly engage your core to support your lower back and lengthen your spine. Focus on maintaining a steady breath and allow yourself to fully surrender to the pose, releasing any tension or stiffness in the shoulders and neck.

Extended Puppy Pose is an excellent yoga pose for shoulder mobility, as it stretches the muscles around the shoulder joints and increases their range of motion. It also provides a deep release for the neck and helps to elongate the spine, improving overall posture and spinal alignment.

“Extended Puppy Pose is a wonderful restorative pose that opens the heart and shoulders while promoting a sense of relaxation and surrender. It allows for a deep release in the upper body and creates space in the spine, relieving tension and promoting a sense of lightness.” – Yoga Teacher

Practicing Uttana Shishosana regularly can help alleviate shoulder and neck pain, improve shoulder mobility and flexibility, and create a feeling of spaciousness in the upper body. It can be incorporated into a yoga sequence for shoulder tension or as a standalone pose to experience its unique benefits.

Benefits of Uttana ShishosanaSteps to Practice Uttana Shishosana
Relieves tension in the shoulders and neckIncreases shoulder mobilityStretches the muscles of the upper backLengthens the spinePromotes relaxation and stress reliefStart in a tabletop position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.Walk your hands forward, keeping your arms straight and your elbows slightly bent.Move your buttocks halfway back towards your heels on an exhale.Lower your forehead to the floor and allow your neck to relax.Press down through your hands and feel the stretch in your arms, shoulders, and upper back.Maintain this pose for 5-10 breaths, or longer if desired.

Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Yoga Poses for Tight Shoulders

Dhanurasana, or Bow Pose, is a powerful yoga posture that offers numerous benefits for the body and mind. This pose not only opens the chest and stretches the entire back, but it also helps release tension in the neck, shoulders, and latissimus dorsi muscles.

To practice Dhanurasana, start by lying on your belly with your arms by your sides, palms facing up. Take a deep breath in.

  1. On your exhale, bend your knees and reach back to grab your ankles.
  2. Inhale and lift your heels towards the ceiling, allowing your thighs to lift off the mat.
  3. As you continue to lift, press your shoulder blades against your back, opening your chest.
  4. Draw the tops of your shoulders away from your ears, maintaining a strong and relaxed posture.

Hold this pose for several breaths, allowing yourself to find balance and stability. Feel the stretch in your back, feel your chest opening up, and notice the release of tension in your shoulders.

With regular practice, Dhanurasana can increase shoulder flexibility, provide a deep back stretch, and release tension in the latissimus dorsi muscles. It is an excellent pose for those seeking relief from tight shoulders and a way to promote overall well-being.

Remember to listen to your body and modify the pose as needed. If you have any specific health concerns or injuries, consult with a qualified yoga instructor or healthcare professional before attempting Dhanurasana or any other yoga pose.

Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose)

Natarajasana, also known as Lord of the Dance Pose, is a standing yoga posture that combines strength, flexibility, and balance. This pose offers a deep stretch for the neck, shoulders, and upper back while challenging your one-legged balance.

To practice Natarajasana, begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides. Shift your weight onto your left foot and bend your right knee, bringing your heel towards your buttock. Reach your right hand back to grasp your right ankle or the outside of your right foot.

As you inhale, lift your right foot up towards the ceiling and extend your right thigh behind you. At the same time, stretch your left arm forward, parallel to the floor. Maintain a steady gaze in front of you to help with balance. To deepen the stretch, focus on pressing your foot into your hand without leaning forward.

Natarajasana not only strengthens the shoulders but also improves flexibility in the neck, upper back, and hamstrings. Practice this pose regularly to enhance your body alignment, stability, and overall yoga practice.


What are some yoga poses for tight shoulders?

Some yoga poses for tight shoulders include Marjaryasana (Cat Pose), Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose), Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose), and Garudasana (Eagle Pose).

How can yoga relieve shoulder tension?

Yoga releases shoulder tension by targeting the neck, back, and shoulders. Poses like Cat Pose, Cobra Pose, and Extended Puppy Pose help open up the chest, stretch the shoulder muscles, and promote flexibility.

How often should I practice these yoga poses for shoulder tightness?

It is recommended to practice these poses regularly, at least a few times a week, to release tension and improve shoulder mobility. Consistency is key for long-term benefits.

Can yoga help with shoulder pain relief?

Yes, practicing yoga poses that focus on the shoulders can help alleviate shoulder pain by increasing flexibility, releasing tension, and promoting better posture and alignment.

Are there any specific yoga sequences for shoulder flexibility?

Yes, there are yoga sequences specifically designed to improve shoulder flexibility. These sequences incorporate a variety of poses that target the shoulders, neck, and upper back, promoting mobility and releasing tension.

Can yoga help with upper body tension?

Absolutely. Yoga poses that stretch and open the shoulders, neck, and upper back can help release upper body tension and promote relaxation and flexibility.

How long should I hold each yoga pose for shoulder tightness?

It is recommended to hold each pose for at least 5-10 breaths, allowing enough time for the muscles to stretch and release tension. Take it slow and listen to your body.

Are these yoga poses suitable for beginners?

While some of these poses may require strength and flexibility, modifications can be made to accommodate beginners. It is important to listen to your body and work within your limits, gradually building strength and flexibility over time.

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