By Faye Martins
Does yoga for shoulder pain work? There are a number of Yoga poses that effectively release tension and pain in the shoulders. Many of these shoulder opening Yoga poses also help to release tension in the throat and neck areas. Our shoulders are often repositories of anxiety, anger, stress and unresolved emotions such as grief. When we hold our shoulders tensely, we are often holding our tongues as well. This emotional and muscular contraction will stagnant the free flow of energy throughout your body. Tension in the shoulders can also cause tension headaches as the muscle tightness creeps up into the neck area.
Many people blame shoulder and neck problems on hours of office work, and while that is a major cause, there are a number of reasons why people consider yoga for shoulder pain or tightness. Working at a computer or desk for several hours in a row may also create tension in the neck, arms, and shoulders. Relieving this tension, on a regular basis, will help to increase your energy, open your heart and throat chakras and support you in speaking your truth.
Shoulder Opener with a Belt
Through gentle manipulation, yoga for shoulder pain is helping. The shoulder opener with a belt is one of the most approachable and effective ways for releasing tension in your shoulders. Before practicing this pose, grab a strap, belt or towel. Stand at the front of your Yoga mat and take a few deep breaths. Remember to inhale and exhale fully and deeply. Hold the ends of your belt or strap in each hand, approximately three feet apart. Adjust the strap according to your body stature and level of flexibility. With your next inhale, raise your arms over your head while holding the strap. Slowly extend your arms behind your head while keeping your arms straight. Only go as far as your flexibility allows on this particular day. With your next exhale, bring your arms forward and rest for a moment. Repeat two to four more times.
Threading the Needle
Come to Extended Child’s Pose on your Yoga mat with your knees apart and your arms extended out in front of you. Take a few deep breaths as you enjoy a nice stretch. To come into Threading the Needle pose, with an inhale come to your knees and raise your right hand up toward the ceiling and parallel to the wall. With your next exhale, thread your right arm under your left arm as far as you can comfortably go without strain. Keep your right palm facing the ceiling and your right arm parallel to the front of your Yoga mat. Hold for several breaths and feel the stretch all the way through your right shoulder, neck and upper back. With your next inhale, come out of the pose and rest for a moment in Balasana or Child’s Pose. Repeat on the left side.
Additional Thoughts for Teachers
The causes of tightness in the shoulder area are many. Some causes are related to old injuries that gradually come back to haunt us. In some cases of frozen shoulder, the limitation in range of motion can be sudden and chronically painful. Needless to say, a gentle sequence of warm ups and postures can do wonders, but students need to understand this is a gradual process and there are no promises. Students should avoid pushing into pain and teachers should not create an atmosphere of unrealistic expectations. Even if a teacher has a high success rate with helping students increase range of motion, expectations should be restrained, but painless gains should be praised. The point is that students often push when we are not present and they should be informed that pushing can have severe consequences. Yoga for shoulder pain is a viable solution, but students need to understand the underlying concept of gentle manipulation.
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