Sitting at a desk all day can leave your shoulders feeling tense and sore. These three yoga poses can help to relieve shoulder tension by stretching out your muscles so you feel loose and relaxed.
1. Extended side angle pose
- Begin by standing in a wide-legged stance, with your feet just a little over a metre apart.
- Turn your right foot out 90 degrees so that it points to your right, while leaving the left foot facing forward.
- Stretch your arms out to your sides so that they form a straight line at 90 degrees from your torso.
- Next, inhale and shift your gaze so that it falls over your right fingertips without rotating your torso.
- Exhale and slowly bend your right knee so that it comes over your right ankle. Your thigh should be roughly parallel with the floor, which might require adjusting the distance between your feet slightly.
- Rest your right elbow on your right knee, and extend your left arm up over your left ear, with the palm facing the floor.
- Gaze up past your underarm toward the sky, and feel the stretch running down your left arm, through your shoulder and along the left side of your torso.
- Repeat on both sides.
2. Eagle pose
- Stand with your feet together and your knees very slightly bent.
- Lift your right foot up, carefully balancing on the left.
- Focus your gaze on a point in front of you to help you balance, then carefully wrap the right leg around the left, so that the right thigh rests on top of the left thigh and the right foot hooks behind the left calf.
- Next, reach your arms out parallel to the floor, with the right arm crossing over the left at the elbow.
- Bend the elbows so your forearms rise up and press your palms together, so that the right palm faces left and the left palm faces right.
- Gently bend your knees so that you sink down slightly into the pose, and raise your arms so that your hands come in front of your face.
- Press the palms together to stretch through the backs of the shoulders, relieving the tension of the day.
- Perform this stretch on both sides, holding for around 30 seconds each time.
3. Upward plank pose
To stretch the front parts of the shoulders:
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended, keeping your feet together.
- Put your hands about 15 cm behind your hips, with the fingers pointing forward.
- Inhale and gently raise your hips toward the sky, pressing your feet and hands into the floor to stabilize yourself. (You can drop your head back to deepen the stretch, or keep the head up and the gaze forward if that feels more comfortable to you.)
- Stay here for a few deep breaths, keeping your hips raised as far as possible.
Now that you’ve performed these three stretches, you should probably feel a noticeable difference in your shoulders.