Be it from hunching over a desk, slouching on the couch or living with long-term bad posture, achy and slumped shoulders plague modern-day lifestyles. But it's not entirely our fault -- as the body's most mobile joint, the shoulder is also at high risk to injury. Harness the slow, powerful stretching of Yin Yoga to release the muscles and tissues around the shoulder joint. Yin Yoga poses are held anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes, allowing for deep stretching of the connective tissues. Using props, including a yoga block and bolster, you can comfortably practice Yin Yoga at home.
Lower-Body Pose Foundation
Many shoulder-opening Yin poses can be performed when holding the lower body in Shoelace pose. Shoelace provides you with a stable base to perform the shoulder-specific arm variations, plus it is a deep hip opener. Kneel on all fours, and place your left knee behind your right knee. Sit back on your mat, landing between your feet. Slide your feet forward, away from your sit bones and keep your knees stacked. If your hips are tight, sit on a stack of blankets or a bolster for support.
Once you're securely seated in Shoelace, place a yoga block on its narrow end, 6 to 12 inches in front of your knees. Sit up tall, reaching the crown of your head toward the ceiling. Inhale through your nose and bring your arms into a "T" position, stretched out to your sides and parallel to the ground. Turn your palms toward the ceiling and exhale as you swing your arms toward each other, overlapping the right elbow on top of the left elbow. Bend at the elbows and turn the palms of your hands toward each other until they are touching.
Working With Yoga Block for Shoelace and Eagle Arms
Inhale through your nose and as you exhale, bend at the waist and bring your elbows to the top of the yoga block. Press your elbows away from your chest more and more as you hold the pose, adjusting the block's placement if necessary. As you progress and can go deeper in this pose, place the block on its widest edge, allowing you to lean more into both Shoelace and Eagle Arms. Hold for 3 to 5 minutes and repeat on the opposite side by switching the crossing of your legs and arms.
Practice Downward-Facing Dog after your shoulder opener to provide yang balance to the yin nature of the pose, meaning you're adding in movement and heat after the cooling, stationary pose. After unwinding your arms in Eagle Arms pose, lean forward onto your palms, uncross your legs and come back to kneeling on all fours with a neutral spine. Tuck your toes under and spread your fingers wide, pressing your palms into the mat. Straighten your legs and lift your hips up into the air. Press down through your heels and relax your neck. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Yoga Journal: Yin Yoga
- The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga; Bernie Clark
- Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images