Yoga Poses That Help With Shoulder Posture

Updated on September 14, 2017
Kaili Bisson profile image

Kaili is a health and exercise advocate who practices yoga daily and golfs weekly during the too-short golf season.

Yoga helps correct posture and rounded shoulders


Rounded shoulders

Right now, check to see what position your shoulders are in. Did you just sit up a little straighter when you became aware of them? Did you roll them back even just a little?

We all do it, slouch that is. We sit all day long at a keyboard with our shoulders rolled forward. We abuse our shoulders by carrying laundry baskets around, and lifting children up. We load heavy purses and bags on our shoulders and hurt ligaments and tendons by not warming up before our weekly softball game.

As we age, we tend to lose flexibility. We end up with rounded shoulders and we find ourselves with stiff shoulders from doing even the lightest physical activity.

Yoga poses for shoulders

Yoga can be used to target specific areas of the body and the poses – “asanas” as they are called – covered here are great yoga shoulder exercises. You will feel a difference in your posture and have increased shoulder flexibility after just a few weeks of doing these shoulder yoga poses.

Shoulder rolls

This can be done from a seated position and is an easy way to release tension and increase flexibility in the shoulders, neck and upper back. To begin, inhale as you lift both shoulders toward your ears. Don’t scrunch up your neck, keep it neutral. Exhale as you slowly let your shoulders back down.

Now, roll your shoulders around and create a circle with them by raising them toward your ears, then outward, then down, and finally back. Do this two or three times, and then repeat by reversing the direction. Keep your neck soft and remember to breathe.


Shoulder press and squeeze

This movement is a fundamental part of many yoga asanas, and can also be done on its own to help with stiff shoulders. You can do this yoga stretch while standing or even while sitting in a chair.

To begin, sit on your mat with your legs crossed, arms at your sides. Raise your shoulders gently toward your ears and hold for two or three breaths. Relax them back down.

Now, clasp your fingers together behind your back with your palms up and the backs of your hands toward the floor. Straighten your elbows, gently roll your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. You should feel a gentle stretch across your clavicles (collarbones) and in the fronts of your shoulders. Try to get a nice little squeeze going between your shoulder blades. Breathe, and then relax back down. Do this two or three times. To progress in this position, turn your hands so that your palms are toward the floor and the backs of your hands are facing up.

Cow Face or Cow’s Head Pose (Gomukhasana)

This is a wonderful shoulder yoga pose. It improves posture, flexibility and rounded shoulders. We will focus on the part of the asana that works the shoulders.

Begin by raising your right arm and then extending your hand down toward the area between the middle of your shoulder blades as if you were going to scratch your back. At the same time, bring your left arm behind your back, starting with your arm at your lower back and sliding your hand up, palm out, as far as you can.

Now, try to clasp your fingers together. Don’t worry if you can’t get them to even touch at first. This will come as you practice. If you can’t clasp your fingers together, try to give yourself a little bit more of a stretch by grabbing your shirt and pulling your hands gently toward each other. Breathe. Try to hold for two or three breaths, and then gently relax your arms back down. Repeat by doing this with the left arm up and the right arm down. You will probably notice that one side is tighter than the other, especially in the front of the shoulder. This will loosen up as you practice your yoga for shoulders.

In the video below, you can incorporate the leg movements as well, or simply sit cross-legged and focus on the arms.

Cow Face Pose

Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

This pose is wonderful for shoulder flexibility and for the body as a whole. In order to focus on the shoulder area, we will do something called “Eagle Arms”.

To begin, bring both arms straight out in front of you at about shoulder height. Now, cross your left elbow over top of your right one and bend your left arm up, left palm facing outward. Now, reach your right arm and hand up and try to get both palms together (your right hand will be very close to your face). This may not be possible at first, but don’t worry. You will feel a wonderful stretch in your shoulders. Try to get your elbows up and your arms as straight up as possible. Try to hold for two or three breaths, and then gently relax your arms down. Repeat by crossing the right arm over the left.

Yoga for shoulders - Eagle Arms

Progressing with shoulder yoga poses

Try to do these poses every day and in no time, you will notice a difference in shoulder flexibility. After just a few weeks, you will probably find that you don’t have stiff shoulders, but you will have improved range of motion and better posture as well. As with any other exercise regimen, you should always check with your primary health care practitioner before attempting any yoga exercises for the first time.

© 2012 Kaili Bisson


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    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 5 years ago from Canada

      Hello melovy! So glad you enjoyed this Hub. Keep on rolling :-)

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      This hub is great. I do know most of these exercises, but don't always remember to do them. Reading your hub has got me rolling my shoulders!

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 5 years ago from Canada

      Hi Sue and thank you for the vote and for the feedback. Don't worry...everyone has a side that is tighter, but if you take your time and do the exercises (gently) every day, before long you will see such improvement in range of motion, you will be amazed :-)

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi Kaili,

      I need to start doing these exercises. I tried the Cow Face Pose and had no problem clasping my fingers together when I started with my right arm but couldn't with my left arm.

      Voted up and awesome

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 5 years ago from Canada

      Hi Kevin and thank you. I need to get busy with some Hub work this weekend, and will be adding a link to your posture hub. I think they are quite complimentary. Glad you tried this out...Eagle arms is a great stretch :-)

    • klanguedoc profile image

      Kevin Languedoc 5 years ago from Canada

      Great advice Kaili. I added a link to this hub to one of my comments to my good posture hub. I hope you don't mind. Actually I tried the 3-minute warm up position while sitting and the eagle arms position is fantastic for loosening the stiffeness between the shoulder blades.

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 5 years ago from Canada

      Hi Green Lotus and thank you. Yes, it really stretches a few areas, and is quite different when arms are lowered versus when they are raised.

      I find eagle arms to be really good when I get the occasional knot in my upper back.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Excellent advice! I was amazed when I first tried the eagle arm pose. It really stretches out your shoulder , rotator cuff and back muscles.

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 5 years ago from Canada

      Hi tobusiness and thank you. Yoga is so good for you...even just a few minutes a day is sometimes all we can fir into our schedules, but it is worth it :-)

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 5 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      I'm always starting and stopping, something always seem to get in the way. However, I will make a concerted effort to do it properly. Will check out you other yoga hubs soon. This is very useful info.

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 5 years ago from Canada

      Hi Keith and thank you. Please check out my other yoga hubs too if you like. I applaud you and your friend for getting up so early to do is something that provides benefits that will stay with you your whole life.

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 5 years ago

      Very interesting! My school offers yoga classes and my friend and I are doing them every tuesday and thursday at 6:30AM. Definitely will be using this information! I just did a little bit of the Eagle Arm pose and I definitely felt the stretch. Voted up and sharing!

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 5 years ago from Canada

      Hi Victoria and you are welcome! It is never too late to start and it is something we can do as we get older, unlike so many other forms of exercise.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I have been reading about yoga lately because I really think it would be helpful for me to try. This is a good one! Thanks!