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Yoga Therapy for the Shoulders and Upper Back

Beginner I

This short shoulder sequence is for everyone - yoga practitioners, office workers, weight lifters, new moms, musicians, and everyone else who uses their hands and arms throughout the day. These therapeutic exercises are not yoga poses, but will help you with your asana practice and will generally give you more space and mobility in your shoulders. Practice regularly to bring ease to your body at work and at home.

Equipment:
  • Block
Intensity:
Style:

Comments

Existing Comments

Itsmaha
Itsmaha
December 29, 2021
Comment:

I feel great for hours after doing this class, relaxed shoulders and open chest. Thank you Erica!

lmroiter
lmroiter
December 28, 2021
Comment:

Marvelous. This bit into all my juicy spots. Hurt so good!

caramelslut
caramelslut
December 18, 2021
Comment:

I work in the service industry, more specifically I wait tables and do a lot of carrying. Cocktail trays loaded with drinks, two, three plates at a time, big trays packed full of ceramic dishes and food. It is A LOT of work lol, and I have been doing it for over 10 years. This class has opened me up in ways I didn't think were possible. I made a promise to myself to do this followed by the wrist therapy each night after my shift and it is an astronomical difference. My goodness. I think I love you, Erica.

panhic
panhic
March 13, 2021
Comment:

I can't believe how great this feels. Is there a similar but longer class? I'd love that.

dosbo
dosbo
November 26, 2020
Comment:

What a beautiful release! I am an experienced yogi, but tight shoulders persist. I could easily incorporate this quick routine into my day and would be so much more relaxed. Thank you, Erica!

(Now can you do one for the low back and sacrum, please!)

stacynwoods
stacynwoods
August 11, 2020
Comment:

I found this today and it was really helpful for my super tight shoulders! Note it doesn’t show up when you search by neck/shoulders though - people may miss it!

PeacefulRN
PeacefulRN
November 16, 2019
Comment:

I was surprised by how intense this felt on my shoulders - definitely tells me that there is a lot of deep tension that needs releasing. Loved that I could do this practice without having to roll out my mat (I just lay down on my floor) or take off my shoes and socks - cold be great for a mid-day office stretch. Thank you!

AprilStewart
AprilStewart
November 16, 2019
Comment:

Exactly what I was looking for today - quickly provide relief to my chronically tight shoulders. I'll be coming back to this class regularly. Thank you!

huma
huma
September 11, 2019
Comment:

Office stress and too much time at computer... This was soooooo helpful.
Thank you. Upperback and shoulders. in 15 mins.
Very grateful.
x

hannahmh106
hannahmh106
May 27, 2019
Comment:

I did a lot of gardening this weekend and my shoulders and upper back were feeling so stiff...this helped a lot!

Melanie Lichtinger
Melanie Lichtinger
November 29, 2018
Comment:

Thank you, Erica,
for this great shoulder release practice. The tightness that developed there recently feels already lighter.
Loved the flow sequence, and will revisit.
Keep bringing on more Yoga Therapy!

Sebastiantanner94
Sebastiantanner94
September 13, 2018
Comment:

I'm 24 and have always had some sort of back this-or-that. My upper back has ALWAYS been tight and always the comment I receive when I get a massage. Today at work (I have two jobs and both involve a lot of upper-body and standing) my back cramped up so bad. I did a few stretches to get me through the day. BUT THIS! The release I got from this was spectacular . Thank you so much. Will have to add this as a daily regimen!

Nyamyj
Nyamyj
April 18, 2018
Comment:

Fantastic! Definitely created space and fluidity. I will be doing this short bit sweet practice a few times a week.

Goldilox1
Goldilox1
March 30, 2018
Comment:

Have tried this one twice now and seems to do the trick in a) releasing any tension and b) resetting my shoulders into a better postural alignment. Its quick and easy too, so will definitely look to incorporate into say a warm down after working out the shoulders.

Francine P
Francine P
March 9, 2018
Comment:

Wow! it felt good and difficult, will know tomorrow or the next day if I overdid it. Should I worry about the popping and cracking sounds in my shouders mostly the left one...
I have been avoiding yoga the last few months because my left shoulder and arm were aching when I pulled them back.
Now I feel ready to overcome this. Do you have any more suggestions.

David Procyshyn
David Procyshyn
March 9, 2018
Comment:

Hi Francine. I think your approach is a good one, to wait to see how it feels tomorrow. In general popping sounds are ok, but you want to be aware that it isn't coming with discomfort or pain.

I have a few great classes for the shoulders, as do other instructors. Go to the search box above, type in 'shoulders' and try some of those classes.

Take care,

David DoYogaWithMe Founder

spidercles
spidercles
August 7, 2017
Comment:

Wow, I feel so good after doing this. Especially when my spine did some popping with the brick under shoulders! Loved the other brick move too. Thank you!

marykmix
marykmix
July 31, 2017
Comment:

I'm going to try this during the work day! (the standing part at least) Great and simple release for shoulders.

Erica Fritch
Erica Fritch
August 2, 2017
Comment:

Great plan, marykmix! Putting little bits of mobility work into your day is so helpful . Even if you just do one exercise at a time, multiple times through your work day, you will feel the difference. And it makes it so much more sustainable and attainable to do it that way rather than think you need to spend an hour doing something.

code3chica
code3chica
January 31, 2017
Comment:

I have had pain my shoulders/neck/upper back for two days. I haven't had time for a good deep tissue massage, but this quick stretching routine really helped ease some of that really deep pain!

Barbara1969
Barbara1969
January 17, 2017
Comment:

Excellent! Thanks! I am a beginner and I haven't so much time so it's perfect for me!

Carol Turcios
Carol Turcios
August 18, 2016
Comment:

Hi Erica, could you please tell me what is the block size I need? I'm a beginner. Thank you so much.

Erica Fritch
Erica Fritch
August 21, 2016
Comment:

Hi Carol,
You can use a standard size yoga block. They tend to come in 3 or 4 inch widths, and for the upper back backbend, I like the narrower size, because I have very narrow shoulders.
For the stretch with your elbows on the block, any size block will do, and as mentioned in another comment, you can even use a chair or a counter instead of a block.

I hope that helps!
Erica

Delster
Delster
July 27, 2016
Comment:

Love this short sequence:) It is great for counteracting a day of feeding and carrying my gorgeous and very heavy baby. Thank you for sharing:)

Sallycawdery
Sallycawdery
May 25, 2016
Comment:

I've suffered with a painful back an shoulders for years and this has really helped after only a few sessions. I'm now doing this every day when I get home and the usual end of the day pain is decreasing. Absolutely great thank you

little-c-yogi
little-c-yogi
April 25, 2016
Comment:

This is great! I didn't think I would feel so loose after only ten minutes. I really struggle to cross my elbows over each other (my hands are miles apart), is this just a flexibility issue? Thanks for a great video :)

Terry87571
Terry87571
January 17, 2016
Comment:

Erica, I'll definitely being doing this one again. Thank you for the wonderful stretches!

Erica Fritch
Erica Fritch
January 18, 2016
Comment:

Happy to hear it!
I'm glad to know I am contributing to the shoulder stretching, heart opening, upper back relief of people everywhere!
Erica

Ebuddy
Ebuddy
January 10, 2016
Comment:

First, I can't get my elbows together, let alone into eagle arms. Is there any modification or prop I could try? Also, I have similar pain to erinlein, but on the left side - happened coming out of child's pose :( . The standing modification helps greatly - thank you!

Erica Fritch
Erica Fritch
January 18, 2016
Comment:

Hi Ebuddy,
One of the things that can help get your arms to cross a little further up above the elbows (which is the secret to getting the grip in this arm position) is to use momentum. Fold forward, to bring your chest out of the way, then really swing your arms fast to get higher up in the crossing. Keep your thumbs pointing toward your face. Then try one of the following three modifications:

First is to cross your arms as close to your elbows as you can, as if you were going to go into the full arm position, but then take your hands to opposite shoulders, like you are giving yourself a hug. Your hands will be on opposite shoulders. Walk your hands down so they are below the tops of your shoulders, if possible (onto your deltoids and upper arms), and then start to creep your fingers back towards your shoulder blades. It is possible (but not necessary, of course) to wrap your fingers around the inner edges of your shoulder blades in this positon. Do the same with the opposite arm/elbow on top.

Second is to go into Eagle arms as much as you can, then have a friend help *gently* press your wrists towards each other. You can also do this yourself using a wall to bring the top arm's forearm closer to the bottom one.

Third, is a version more common in fitness and weightlifting circles. Take your right arm straight across your body, use your left hand or forearm to pull it close to your chest. Don't twist with this, just pull the arm across to stretch the outer upper arms.

Hope those all (or at least one) help! Hard to know what the pain in your back is, but I hope you get it figured out and work on it to relieve that issue!
Keep stretching those shoulders!
Erica

Ebuddy
Ebuddy
January 25, 2016
Comment:

Thanks for the modification - now next time I have Eagle pose in class I won't feel stupid flapping my arms :-). Started Stronglifts over the holidays, and deadlifts seem to be helping the back. Got into child's pose and got back out without pain - hurray!

GBill
GBill
November 3, 2015
Comment:

I do weights and find that I get quite tense in my shoulders. I recently discovered this short class and have been using it after my training sessions, which has been really good. Thanks!

erinlein
erinlein
October 4, 2015
Comment:

I thought at only 11 minutes this wouldn't be enough to get me going in the morning but it did! Thanks!

I have one problem though -- I am having some pain along the right side of my spine lately, mid-back, and when I did the last position with my elbows on the foam roller (in my case), it was so tense and almost unbearable. Is there another exercise or adaptation that will help me work through this issue? I think it's from twisting around in my sleep too much lately.

Erica Fritch
Erica Fritch
October 8, 2015
Comment:

Hi erinlein,
I'm glad you found some benefit from just a short practice. It's amazing what a little bit of movement can do for us!

As for the pain in your back, one modification I can offer is to do the movement in a standing position. I like to use the kitchen counter, and sometimes use the desk at work to get the same stretch in. It takes some of the other requirements out of it so that you can focus on the engagement you are going for and can release more fully into the stretch.
And, as always, practice, practice, practice! Have faith and keep at it. If you can add this to your day every day (and even multiple times a day when you get in a routine of using a higher, easily accessible counter) chance can happen pretty quickly!

Good luck!
Erica

erinlein
erinlein
November 3, 2015
Comment:

Thanks for your response! I took your advice and used the counter or desk at first but now I can do it on the block too :)

I have been doing this sequence often, and on days when I have to work at a desk all day even twice a day -- my shoulders and upper back are feeling a million times better than a month ago. This is a great little routine that I can always spare 10 minutes for.

Cori.pacanins
Cori.pacanins
July 20, 2015
Comment:

I am a dental assistant so frequently suffer from aches in my shoulders and back. This was my first time with this segment and I am already feeling some relief. I look forward to an ache-less future with consistent practice!

Erica Fritch
Erica Fritch
July 21, 2015
Comment:

So glad to hear it, Cori! I realized at the dentist a few years ago that you guys so need some of these exercises I have to offer! I tried to get a class going at my dentist's office, and hoped to work with dental students in our town. I'd love to be able to work with professionals in all areas at the student level to ingrain the importance of taking care of YOU while you take care of others.
Glad to hear it hit the spot for you!

mlo2144
mlo2144
July 18, 2015
Comment:

I tried this video after feeling "off" while lifting weights; both the pushing and pulling exercises. I've done this sequence about 10 times in the past month (I love that it only takes 10 minutes) and I have definitely noticed more mobility in my shoulders. Specifically, the motion feels "smooth" now.
Of note, I can't even come close to grabbing my thumbs during eagle arms, but the pose still works/feels great.

Erica Fritch
Erica Fritch
July 21, 2015
Comment:

I'm glad you found some relief, mlo2144. I have done lots of weight lifting myself, and I found that the more i did of it, the more my shoulders and forearms need lots of stretching and opening up. I have worked with a kettle bell team locally, and boy, do they need that daily dose.
I'm glad 10 minutes is enough for you to notice a difference! It's amazing how quickly it comes. And equally amazing how quickly it goes if you stop.
Keep up the great combo of weights and yoga. You'll be glad you did!

ruth.joyce
ruth.joyce
April 23, 2015
Comment:

I have chronic tendonitis in my shoulders and this short yoga segment for shoulder therapy is the absolute perfect way for me to get the blood flowing in my shoulders when I wake up. I go to this segment every morning right now because springtime is the worst for my shoulders. It's great that DoYogaWithMe has so many wonderful options for yoga, especially therapy and gentle yoga, for those days when you aren't up to a full practice.

Erica Fritch
Erica Fritch
May 4, 2015
Comment:

I'm so glad to hear this, ruth.joyce! Shoulders are one of those areas that even those who don't have something like tendonitis to contend with, can use all the help we can get. I'm happy that this makes things more manageable for you. Keep up the good work!
erica

johnapaz
johnapaz
March 24, 2015
Comment:

If you are just starting out, have really tight shoulders, or have preexisting shoulder problems be wary of trying this out too soon.

The first half of the video I could barely accomplish.

Erica Fritch
Erica Fritch
March 25, 2015
Comment:

Hi Johnapaz,
Sorry to hear you had trouble with these movements! I see that in students pretty consistently -when we start with targeted shoulder work, people are amazed at how hard it is. But within a month or two, even just practicing once a week, I can see, and people report a difference.

I hope you try this sequence again and find some relief, after getting past the initial challenges of it. Let me know if you do!
-Erica

MadRain
MadRain
July 24, 2014
Comment:

This is a great video and loosened up my tight shoulders. I love to do these exercises when I don't have time for an entire 45 minute practice but desperately need shoulder loosening. You can do most of this without a block -- for the block part 1. I use a box set of DVD's, part 2, The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Not ideal, but does the trick!