Most Effective Shoulder Opening Yoga Poses

Tight shoulders? Learn the most effective shoulder opening yoga poses for all level students. These are useful for everyone and can be practiced by any one. There are a few levels of intensity you can choose from.

Great for yoga and anyone that sits in front of a desk, drives or does other upper body sports.

Developing good backbends requires far more than opening the back, and in fact many of the problems people have with poses such as wheel or kapotasana, are related to tight shoulders and tight hip flexors.

The secret to success is to stay in the poses for longer than you would normally in regular yoga classes. These poses should be practiced more like the poses in yin classes, where poses are held for 3-5 minutes.

Come out slowly, and if you practice regularly, you will see very quick results.

Welcome to Doron Yoga. Today we’re working on shoulders, and the progressions to Monkey Pose. This is such a big deal in the modern western world. Many of us are hunched in the shoulders. What we’re going to work on is both opening them backwards as well as keeping space between the shoulder blades.

Most Effective Shoulder Opening Yoga Poses

I’ll go over 3 variations of shoulder openers, leading up to Monkey pose.

Variation 1

Standing Shoulder Opener Yoga Pose

From standing, come to an upside-down “L” shape with your hands on the wall and the hips over the legs. The hands should be flat against the wall with a slight lift in the ribs, and the shoulders should be externally rotated. This option is a really good shoulder opener, and I recommend that you stay here for at least 2 minutes, and as long as 5. You can stay in the pose for a minute, come out of the pose, and then do another minute at a time. Remember to breathe and stay focused and relaxed as you surrender into the pose.

To come out of the pose, walk your feet slowly closer to the wall, then release, stand, and shake out your arms.

Variation 2

Kneeling Shoulder Opening Yoga Pose

The second variation is from a kneeling position, with the knees on the ground, and the hands flat on the wall. Keep the knees underneath the hips, the shoulders externally rotated, and the ribs slightly lifted. This pose is similar to the first, except your knees are on the ground instead of standing.

Variation 3

Monkey Shoulder Opening Yoga Pose

The last shoulder opener (Monkey) is the most efficient, but also the most challenging. For this variation, you should start by laying on your belly, and then lift the hands up to place them flat on the wall, while keeping your hips on the mat. The idea is to drop the upper chest down without letting the head touch the wall. If this is really challenging, let the head rest on the wall – that’s fine. Over time try to work the head off the wall. Your hands should be about shoulder width apart, but it’s OK to start a little wider depending on your body. Stay in this pose for a couple of minutes or 20 breaths.

To come out of the pose, gently lower the hands, then bring the knees forward and go into child’s pose to rest. I like to take my hands alongside my legs for child’s pose here, so that the arms and shoulders are bending in the opposite direction of the stretch from the previous pose.

Always remember to be patient and breathe, and the poses will work for you over time.

Always consult a doctor before performing a new yoga pose.


Thanks for watching everyone. Please share this with your friends. Let them enjoy this as well. Hit like on Doron Yoga’s YouTube channel, and even leave a comment there or here on the Doron Yoga blog post. Learn more about this pose and many others during our yoga teacher training in Guatemala at Lake Atitlan. See you soon!

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