Tight shoulders? That’s ok yogis tend to over stretch their shoulders, so if you tend to over work them, then try some of these yoga moves to help balance yourself out!
I work with CrossFit, Yoga, and personal training, and there’s nothing I hear the most than “How can you do CrossFit and Yoga? The two are so different.” Its true, they are very different, and yet it’s the fact that they are so different which makes them so completely perfect for me. Over time though I have been able to study enough with the movements to see how the two are similar and compliment each other.
There are so many ways to exercise the core and yoga does a fantastic job of working the core from all angles, whether you are looking for stability, lateral and oblique strength, a 6 pack, or low back strength. Yoga puts you through a rage of isometric stretches and calisthenics that take your entire core through some intensive workouts!
Standing Back bend
Clasp your hands behind your back by the buttocks, pulling the shoulders back. Looking up at the ceiling move into a gentle back bend. As you bend back try to pull your hands down to the ground in a straight line.
Not only will this help release those feel-good endorphins that come with any back bend, but when you clasp your hand behind your back this way, it will help to stretch your shoulders and open up your chest in a gental fashion that can be a mild or intense stretch.
Standing Wall assist Shoulder stretch
This may not look like a yoga stretch, and in complete honesty it may not have originated through yoga, but you will see this a lot in a beginner yoga class. Reason being is that it is a great way to mildly stretch yoru shoulders.
Start by placing one hand on the wall at shoulder height extending the arm down the wall brig your shoulder to the wall. Begin to rotate your entire body as one unit away from the wall. The more you twist, the more intense the stretch becomes.
Standing Wall assist Backbend
So in yoga this is not what would be considered a wall assisted back bend, but for our purposes here, it is a back bend which is wall assisted, so that is what we are calling it for now. This will feel amazing down your entire back as it is a great stretch for your oblique’s, your low back, your lats,your hamstrings, your chest, and your shoulders. It is all around heaven for those of you who need a good stretch. The cool thing about this pose is that it is a back bend, but your head stays above your heart in most cases, so it is like a whole new feeling to the endorphins vs the head rush you would normally get from a traditional back bend.
Place both hands on the wall at shoulder height or higher. Walk your feet back bending at the hips until your hamstrings start to stretch out. Then pull your chest down towards the floor, and let your head hang, as you slowly open up the shoulders, and stretch out the upper body.
Wide legged Forward fold shoulder stretch
Forward folds are a great thing to include in your daily stretches if you do not have them there already. Yoga tends to focus on stretching the hamstrings and folding forwards almost to what some would say is too much, but if you are used to having super tight hamstrings and having trouble bending forward to touch your knees, then adding in forward folds is a good thing. A wide legged forward fold is an easier way to get a good comfortable hang going in your forward fold, without over stretching your hamstrings or calves. Adding the shoulder opner helps to work on your balance and make it a combo movement.
Taking your legs out as wide as you can while still keeping your balance, clasp your hands behind you back by your buttocks. Keeping your back flat, bend forwards, until you feel the stretch in the back of your legs, and hold there letting your head hang. Begin lifting you hands up from the bum line and try to pull your hands down so that they are in line with your head (they wont be, but that’s what you want to imagine).
A full camel can be an arduous task to take on at first so don’t push yourself, start with a ½ camel and work on the until you fell really comfortable with it, then you can move on.
Reaching back with your right hand grab your right heel. Let your chest start turned towards the right and slowly turn your upper body so that the chest faces the ceiling. If you can face your chest towards the ceiling completely, and hold that stretch comfortably for 30 seconds, then try for a full camel.
Starting on your knees in a high kneel, take both hand down and back reaching for your heels. Place your hands on your heels, and push your hips forward and chest up in order to lift yourself and take the weight out of your arms. As you lift yourself up, walk your finger tips down your feet as to pull your shoulders down, opening up the chest, and stretching out your shoulders.
Well it has an adorable name, that’s for sure!
Starting on your hands and knees, walk your hands up toward the front of the mat, so that they are a little further out then your shoulders. Hold your hips up where they are and slowly begin walking your finger tips out as far as you can pulling your head and chest towards the floor. Once your head reaches the floor, let it relax there and slowly start allowing your hips to come down towards the floor, while tilting your pelvis back (so it points towards the ceiling)
This is a more intense back bend, with shoulder opening that is actually appropriate for most beginners.
Starting belly down, hands by your side, start with a quad stretch (bending both knees, feet towards the buttocks, and grabbing the ankles to pull gently). Then lift the chest up gently and begin pressing the ankles into the hands, pulling the shoulders back and opening up the chest. I like to rock gently in this, but do not force a rocking here, because it could force your body into a painful back bend. see more
Belly Down back bend
Not a fan of Bow? That’s fine, it is an intense stretch, and although it is safe for most beginner yogis, it may not be right for you.
Laying belly down, hands down by your side, inhale and lift the chest gently, and hold. On your next inhale lift your hands up past your buttocks, and clasp them together. Once your hands are clasped, lift them up trying to make a straight line from your shoulders to your fingers.
This may not be called a scorpion, but a group of other yoga teachers and I decided that the best name for this pose should be scorpion. This is a stretch that I have seen used in dynamics stretches for a crossfit class, and also a static stretch in a yoga class. Either way works, and I have used both ways in my classes.
I lie to start with movement so I start laying belly down, both arms stretched out wide like a “T”. Then using some momentum, I kick my right foot up towards, my left hand, and then swing it back kicking my left foot, up towards my right hand. Do this for 30 seconds to a minute, and then I try a more static stretch. Starting with the right hand out like when in the “T” bring your left hand under your left shoulder. With out using any momentum, take your left foot over towards your right hands and slowly press up with your left hand to stretch the right shoulder just a little further. Hold, and then switch sides.
So this is a variation, on fish pose, but personally I think this variation will better help you with shoulder rotation, shoulder stretching, and chest opening.
Sitting down on the floor take your hands behind you fingertips pointed away from you. Inch your hips forward keeping your hands where they are until you feel the stretch in your shoulders, and hold.