Yoga: Shoulder Conditioning

Happy Cow ArmsI never thought I’d be able to touch my hands together behind my back (Happy Cow Arms in photo above). When I started out with any shoulder openers, it was a challenge to even put my hand behind my back. I could feel the whole front of my shoulder, chest, neck, and even my biceps being pulled. I knew if I didn’t do something about it, I would have some serious future injuries to deal with. You are only as strong as your weakest link, so I knew I had to get serious.

Here’s some yoga exercises below that have truly opened up my shoulders and some that have strengthened them in a different way, focusing more on my stabilizing muscles.

Note: Before going into any deep shoulder openers, you should warm up your shoulders first. Going through a sun salutation series (easy flow from downward dog to plank to pushups to upward dog and back to downward dog) will warm them up.

Downward Dog Poses for Shoulders

  • Downward Dog – Hold pose & breathe at least 1 minute.  Press through entire hand and let your head hang.
  • One Arm Downward Dog – Work up to 1 minute (make sure hands aren’t slick or sweaty).
  • Dolphin (bottom right in above photo) – open your chest as much as you can and relax your neck.

Shoulder Presses and Openers

  • Downward Dog Shoulder Press (top two in above photo) – Have hands wider than the yoga mat and palms can be flat on the ground.
  • Reverse Prayer (bottom right in above photo) – I started by just grabbing my wrist.
  • Prone Shoulder Opener (bottom left in photo above/video below) – move slowly and see video below.

This video below shows how slow you should go to get into position – hold the open position for at least 5-10 breaths before getting out of it.  Only go as deep as your body allows and don’t go to the point of pain.

Trigger point therapy for rhomboids and traps (equipment: yoga block and two tennis balls)…

Trigger Point therapy
First lay flat on floor. Lift hips into a bridge position and place a yoga clock under your tailbone. Next shimmy two tennis balls on both sides of your spine on your upper to mid back.

You don’t want to feel pain. You should be able to breath into the pose.

It’s been a long ride for me, but I’m finally seeing all this work paying off and you will too!

Consult your physician before starting this or any other exercise program.


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