[17] Best Yoga Poses for Shoulders Pain: Detailed Guide 2021

Yoga is more than just another way to exercise your body and mind – it is a series of physical positions or stretches with Indian/Hindu roots. These “asanas” or “poses” (the English translation) can have a positive impact on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

They are widely understood to increase the energy flow throughout the body; they help purge the body of toxins, sharpen the mind, and free the emotions. They are also known to enhance spiritual awareness.

The majority of yoga positions stimulate the glandular system, encouraging your internal organs to function efficiently. This exercise practice also promotes deep, controlled breathing, which encourages a centered, peaceful mind and a calm, alert spirit. The consistent practice of yoga can lead to many amazing physical, mental, and emotional benefits that you definitely don’t want to miss out on!t

A Time for Yoga

Yoga can be practiced by adults of any age or physical condition. As you will see throughout this article, certain poses are not recommended for individuals with specific physical conditions. Other poses can be practiced with modifications. Listen to your body; if your body is uncomfortable with a certain pose, back off and find out why.

Your mind, emotions, and body are tightly intertwined. What affects one will impact the other. It is not uncommon for someone to consult a doctor when his or her emotions refuse to respond to professional counseling. In the same way, if physical conditions don’t respond to yoga, a trip to the doctor may be a good idea.

Sometimes a visit with a trained yoga instructor can correct positioning that would otherwise cause harm, or would prevent you from experiencing the full benefits of a specific pose. However, little potential harm can come from practicing the beginner-level poses in this article, if you follow the instructions and honor the restrictions that are given for each one. Feel free to let this article be your introduction to the wonderful and challenging world of yoga.

Getting Started

There are many ways to learn yoga. One popular option is to take a class with other students under the guidance of an experienced trainer. If you lack the funds or your schedule prohibits meeting with a class you may choose to learn yoga from videos. There are even interactive video games that can help you develop your yoga skills!

A third option is to become your own teacher. While it will help to consult with an experienced instructor periodically, you can easily teach yourself, using a combination of text and visual aids – both of which you will find in this article.

I have provided proven step-by-step instructions to help you master the most popular and most broadly effective yoga poses. These instructions include breathing techniques and mental strategies to help you experience all the benefits yoga has to offer. Everything is described in detail, so you can get started immediately on the basics.

Warming Up for Yoga

Everybody knows the importance of stretching before running or working out, but what kind of warm-up does yoga require? While traditional stretching is helpful before performing yoga, since most yoga poses are advanced stretches in and of themselves, there are a number of yoga positions you can use to warm up before you delve into the more involved practice.

The unique aspect of warming up for yoga is the process of centering oneself, at the same time you wake up your muscles. A yoga physical warm-up is also a mental warm-up that allows you to move away from your other preoccupations and reach a calm mental stance that will assist you in further yoga work.

An ideal yoga warm-up will include poses that involve both your upper and lower body. It should incorporate stretches that attend to your wrists, your neck, and your spine, key parts of your body that receive the most work when you’re doing yoga. In this chapter, you will discover some great poses you can use as part of your personal warm-up routine.

The Mountain

  • Focus: Legs, Posture
  • Level: Beginning
  • Total Time: 60 seconds
  • Indications: Sciatica, stress
  • Contraindications: Low blood pressure, dizziness, light-headedness, headache
The Mountain Yoga Pose

The mountain pose is a great starting warm-up. It can prepare your body for many other standing poses. It is also great for your posture and can help you remain calm under pressure as you face your day. It may look like you are just standing, but there is much more going on than meets the eye. Here is how to perform the mountain pose:

  • Stand with your feet separated enough to feel stable. If you are pregnant, you may need to adjust your feet further apart, but don’t separate them any farther than your shoulders.
  • Establish a solid connection with the ground by lifting your toes. Shift your weight distribution so that it is divided equally between the base of your big toes, the base of your little toes, and both left and right sides of your heels. Sustain this weight distribution as you return your toes to the ground and continue through the exercise.
  • Bend your knees slightly and straighten them. This will relax the knee joints. Your legs should be straight, but never locked.
  • Beginning from your feet up, become aware of each part of your body as you engage the muscles to support a tall, straight torso, topped by the tip of the “mountain”, your head. Imagine a string reaching up from the top of your head and pulling it – along with your neck and the torso it is connected to – upward.
  • Activate your thigh muscles by turning them ever so slightly inward.
  • Allow your chest to open up, shifting your shoulders and arms backward. Tip your tailbone slightly under to offset the adjustment you just made to your chest. This will naturally engage muscles around your bellybutton to support your abdomen and keep your back, neck, and head directly above your hips (which should still be directly above your knees and feet).
  • Stand tall and straight, with your arms relaxed at your sides. Focus your gaze straight ahead. Look at something that is just below eye level. This will increase your mental focus, remove distractions, and ensure that your chin is slightly lowered, if it hasn’t already been adjusted by that string pulling up from the top of your head!
  • As you stand in this position, breathe in, filling your lungs, allowing your stomach and chest to expand. When your body is full of air, begin to exhale, taking twice as long to breathe out as you did to breathe in.
  • Take several full breaths, sustaining this posture for 30 to 60 seconds before you release it.

The mountain is easily practiced while you’re standing in line and waiting for, well, anything. It can help you remain calm if other people around you are growing impatient and angry, allowing you to spread kindness in your wake. You can engage this pose any time you’re standing. It serves as a conscious counter-action to all the time we spend hunched over our computers, bent over a book, or focused on a project.

You can continue to warm up by transitioning from the mountain pose to the forward fold.

The Forward Fold

  • Focus: Hamstrings, back
  • Level: Beginning
  • Total Time: 60 seconds
  • Indications: Mild depression, stress, insomnia, headaches; stimulates kidneys, liver, digestive system
  • Contraindications: Back injuries, pregnancy (careful modifications are possible)
Forward Fold Yoga Pose

To perform the forward fold:

  • Stand with your feet firmly planted, spread slightly apart for balance. Distribute your weight evenly across your feet, and hold your torso tall and open. Inhale.
  • Breathe out and bend your body forward at the hips, not the waist. Bend only as far as you can while still breathing easily.
  • Press your heels into the ground, keeping your hips over the soles of your feet.
  • If your hamstrings are too tight to straighten your legs completely, keep your knees bent. If you can straighten your legs completely, place your fingers on the ground.
  • Let your head and neck hang freely.
  • Breathe in and add more length to your torso, then breathe out to settle more deeply into the pose.

If you were to stop here, you would slowly raise your torso, stacking one vertebra at a time atop the others, until you have returned to an upright position. However, for this warm up you want to transition into the half-standing forward fold. This will extend your spine and further strengthen your back and knees.

The Half-standing Forward Fold

  • Focus: Hamstrings, calves, back
  • Level: Beginning
  • Total Time: 60 seconds
  • Indications: Stress
  • Contraindications: Back injury
Half Standing Forward Fold Yoga Pose
  • From the forward fold, raise your torso until your flat back is parallel to the ground. Place your hands on the front of your legs. Breathe in, draw in your abdomen and use your back muscles to support your torso and keep your spine straight.
  • Maintain length from your head to tailbone through your spine
  • Pull your shoulder blades away from your ears and gaze forward
  • Breathe several times before rising to an upright position and resting, with feet slightly separated, in mountain pose.

Wrist Stretches

It is important to warm up your wrists before engaging in most yoga poses; many require you to bear weight on your wrists. The following are some basic wrist stretches and warm-ups you can use to prevent injury and increase flexibility:

  • Get down on your hands and knees; place your hands directly above your shoulders and your knees above your hips. Fold your hands under so that your palms face up and your fingers point toward your knees. Breathe in and rock your body forward slightly, moving gently. Breathe out and slowly move back. Repeat this motion at least four times.
  • Stand tall and stretch out your right arm in front of you with your palm facing down. Relax your wrist, letting your fingers drop down. Use your left hand to grasp these fingers and gently pull them back toward your body.
  • Press your hands against each other as if you were praying. Lower your hands gently until you feel a stretch. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds, then release. Repeat
  • Hold your elbows against your sides with each hand in a soft fist. Keeping your elbows against your sides, move your wrists in a figure eight motion. Continue this motion for 10 to 15 seconds, then rest and repeat.

Neck And Shoulder Stretches

Stretching your neck and shoulder area prior to performing yoga is equally important. Here is a great way to get your neck and shoulder joints lubricated and moving smoothly:

  • Begin in a seated position, keeping your shoulders down and your spine straight.
  • Keeping your hips grounded, breathe in and reach your arms up so that your fingertips are pointed toward the sky.
  • Breathe out as you move your left ear toward your left shoulder and bring your left hand down over your head to gently stretch your neck to the left.
  • Breathe in, straighten your head, and reach your arms up to the sky again.
  • Repeat the previous motion but to the right.
  • Breathe in as you reach your arms up and lock your fingers together to push your palms toward the sky.
  • Breathe out as you bring your interlocked palms down to press on the back of your neck while you move your chin toward your chest.

Pelvic Tilt

Finally, it is important to warm up your lower back prior to engaging in yoga. Your spine literally supports the rest of your body so it is extremely important to warm up the surrounding muscles prior to engaging in any yoga activities.

The pelvic tilts can help loosen your spine, especially if your back is stiff.

To perform a pelvic tilt:

  • Lie down on your back and bend your knees.
  • Press your lower back into the ground, tilt your pelvis up, then release.
  • It is ideal to repeat a pelvic tilt for at least 15 repetitions.

Another great spine warm-up stretch for yoga is the cat cow stretch.

Yoga For Shoulders

The Gate

  • Focus: Shoulders
  • Level: Beginner
  • Total Time: 30 to 60 seconds
  • Indications: energizes lungs and abdomen
  • Contraindications: modification for knee injury
The Gate Yoga Pose

The gate focuses on opening your shoulders while simultaneously stretching your spine, hamstrings and the sides of your body. It also energizes your lungs and abdominal organs. Individuals with a knee injury should perform this pose while sitting on a chair.

  • Begin by kneeling on the ground. Straighten your right leg, extending it out to the right and press your foot, both toes and heel, against the ground. Your right knee and ankle should be facing straight up, aligned with the top of your leg. Slightly rotate your abdomen to the right while moving your upper body to the left.
  • Breathe in and extend your arms out to your sides. Bend your body over your right leg and rest your right hand as far down your leg as possible. The right side of your torso will be compressed while you will be stretching the left side.
  • Place your left hand on your left hip and push your abdomen down into the ground. Move your left hand to your lower left rib cage and push it up toward your shoulders.
  • Inhale as you stretch your left arm over your head to the right. Allow your left hip to slightly roll forward but stretch your upper body away from the ground.
  • Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds. To release yourself from this pose, breathe in and raise your torso back up straight through your top arm. Return your right leg to its original position.
  • Rest a moment, then repeat the process to the left.

The Forearm Handstand

  • Focus: Shoulders
  • Level: Advanced
  • Total Time: 10 seconds or longer, depending on experience level
  • Indications: depression, anxiety
  • Contraindications: neck, back, or shoulder injury, headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, pregnancy
The Forearm Stand Yoga Pose

The forearm stand is the prerequisite to holding a handstand. It builds strength in your shoulders, wrists and arms while stretching your stomach. A forearm stand can enhance your balance and is believed to be effective in treating depression and anxiety. If you have ever experienced a neck, back or shoulder injury, you should avoid this pose. Likewise, individuals who suffer from headaches, high blood pressure, heart conditions and who are menstruating should approach with caution. Pregnant women should forego this pose entirely.

The forearm stand is an advanced inversion. It requires serious strength in your hands, arms and shoulders. Before you take it on, you should be able to perform the following:

  • Downward-facing dog.
  • Dolphin plank.
  • Crow.
  • Headstand.
  • Eight-angle pose.
  • Firefly.

Once you have mastered the above poses, you should have the strength to tackle the forearm stand.

  • Start from the downward-facing dog. Stand on your hands and knees with your shoulders directly above your hands and your hips above your knees. Press your hips straight up until both legs and arms are straight. Let your neck continue the straight line of your back from hips to head. Breathe deeply and slowly.
  • Lower your forearms to the ground. Splay your fingers apart and press them into the ground. You will use your fingers to provide balance when you go into the handstand, so begin to use them now. Tighten your shoulder blades, pulling them together and then toward your tailbone.
  • Step your left leg forward, bending your left knee and flexing your right foot. Push up to raise your hips and torso until your torso is straight above your shoulders.
  • Raise your legs until they are straight and vertical, in line with the rest of your body.
  • Enlist in your core stomach muscles to help keep your hips over your shoulders. If your groin or armpits feel stiff, you can elongate your lower back by pulling the front of your ribs into your body and stretching your tailbone into the soles of your feet.
  • Press your legs together and rotate your thighs inward. Allow your head to hang between your shoulders and stare straight ahead.
  • Stay in this position for 10 seconds at first. Over time, you can work your way up to a maximum of 60 seconds. Continue to breathe deeply, slowly, and steadily, as you maintain this pose.
  • To release this position, breathe out and lower first one leg, then the other. Keep your chest raised and your shoulder blades separated as you bring down your legs.
  • Stand in a forward bend for 30 seconds before you slowly raise your torso to an upright position, one vertebra at a time.
  • If you cannot get yourself completely upside down, that’s okay. Continue to practice the strength-building poses that will eventually provide you with enough power to support and balance your body.

The Firefly

  • Focus: Arms
  • Level: Advanced
  • Total Time: 15 to 30 seconds
  • Indications: stress, anxiety
  • Contraindications: injury to shoulder, wrist, elbow, lower back
The Firefly Yoga Pose

The firefly helps build strength in your arms and wrists while stretching your groin and the back. It can also tone your stomach and enhance your balance. If you suffer from shoulder, wrist, elbow or lower back injuries then you should avoid this pose. Beginners can make this pose easier by sitting on the ground, positioning your legs at 90-degree angles and using yoga blocks to raise each heel.

  • Begin by squatting with your feet a little less than shoulder width apart. Tilt your abdomen forward and bend your torso down to hang between your legs. Keeping your body low, bend your legs until your abdomen is level with your knees.
  • Move your left upper arm and shoulder as far as you can under your left thigh above your knee, placing your hand just to the outside of your foot. Your fingers should point forward. Do the same with your right upper arm.
  • Raise your body off the ground, by shifting your center of gravity. Push your hands into the ground and gently roll your weight off your feet onto your hands. Your inner thighs should remain as high up your arms as possible.
  • Inhale, extend your legs to the sides as straight as possible while keeping your abdomen high, so that your legs are parallel to the ground. Push through the bottom of your big toes while pulling and spreading your toes toward your body. Tilt the inner edges of your feet forward slightly while keeping the outer edges back.
  • Straighten your arms and widen your shoulder blades to hollow your chest. Raise your head and look into the distance. Take slow breaths and stay in this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Then, release your feet to the ground as you exhale.

The Dolphin Plank

  • Focus: Arms
  • Level: Beginner
  • Total Time: 30 to 60 seconds
  • Indications: concentration
  • Contraindications: carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder injury
The Dolphin Plank

The dolphin plank builds strength in your shoulders, neck, and spine while strengthening your core. Individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome or shoulder injuries should avoid this pose. The dolphin plank differs from the straight plank, in that the forearms rest on the ground, whereas in the regular plank, your upper body is supported by your hands and wrists and your arms are straight.

  • Begin in downward-facing dog. Start on your hands and knees with your shoulders directly above your hands and your hips above your knees. Press your hips straight up until both legs and arms are straight. Let your neck continue the straight line of your back from hips to head. Breathe deeply and slowly.
  • Breathe in and pull your body forward until your shoulders are directly above your wrists. This should bring your body parallel to the ground with your arms perpendicular to it.
  • Press the outsides of your arms in and forcefully press the underside of your index fingers into the ground. Lower your elbows to the ground. Tense your shoulders, contracting them together and then expanding them away from your spine. At the same time, expand your collarbone from your chest.
  • Press the front of your thighs upward while allowing your tailbone to resist the ground as it naturally elongates down toward the soles of your feet. Lift your head until the back of your neck is parallel to the ground and gaze straight downward. Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds.

The Upward Plank

  • Focus: Arms and Wrists
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total Time: 30 seconds
  • Indications: thyroid, abdominal organ function
  • Contraindications: wrist injury, modification for neck injury
The Upward Plank Yoga Pose

The upward plank builds strength in your arms and wrists as well as your legs while stretching your ankles, shoulders, and chest. Anyone who has experienced a wrist injury should avoid this pose. Individuals who have experienced a neck injury should use a wall or chair seat to support their neck in this pose.

  • Begin by sitting in the staff pose: Sit down on the ground and stretch your legs straight forward, flexing your ankles and bending your toes back toward your torso, which is straight and tall.
  • Place your hands lightly atop your thighs, palms downward, as you shift them slightly inward and press them into the ground. Breathe deeply in, then slowly out.
  • Continue to sustain slow, full breathing as you place your thumbs under the edge of your armpits and let the upward force lift your entire torso until your head is straight above your heart, which is directly above your hips.
  • Sustaining this tall torso, lower your arms to your sides, touching the ground with your fingertips to steady your posture and balance.
  • Remain in this position as long as you want.
  • Place your hands a few inches behind your hips and point your fingers forward. Bend your knees to plant your feet on the ground with your heels about 12 inches away from your hips; then rotate your big toes inward.
  • Breathe out, press your hands and the insides of your feet into the ground and raise your hips until your body and thighs are parallel to the ground and your arms and shins are perpendicular.
  • While keeping your hips in place, straighten out your right leg followed by your left leg. Raise your hips a little higher without causing your hips to firm. Raise your chest while pressing your shoulder blades together across your back.
  • Gently tip your head backward without shortening your neck. Stay in this position for 30 seconds.
  • To release, breathe out and lower yourself back into the staff pose. Stretch your legs straight forward, flexing your ankles and bending your toes back toward your torso, which is suspended by an invisible string that runs up to the stars.

The Extended Side Angle

  • Focus: Shoulders
  • Level: Beginner
  • Total Time: 30 to 60 seconds
  • Indications: backaches, constipation, menstrual symptoms
  • Contraindications: blood pressure (high or low), headache, insomnia
The Extended Side Angle Yoga Pose

The extended side angle builds strength in your shoulders while stretching them, along with your chest, upper back, lower legs, and neck. It is therapeutic for backaches, constipation and menstrual symptoms. Those who suffer from blood pressure problems, insomnia, or who are experiencing a headache should avoid the extended side angle.

Begin by standing in the mountain pose. Stand tall and straight with your feet separated enough to feel stable. Establish a solid connection with the ground by shifting your weight so that it is equally divided between the base of your big toes, the base of your little toes, and both left and right sides of your heels.

Breathe out and place your feet three feet apart from each other. Rotate your left foot slightly to the left and turn your right foot right to a 90- degree angle. Both of the soles of your feet should be parallel to each other. Bring your arms up parallel to the ground and actively extend them out, keeping your palms facing the ground.

Breathe in and stare over the tips of your right fingers. Breathe out and bend your right knee until your shin is perpendicular to the ground. Angle your body forward and place your right elbow on your right knee. Extend your left arm over your left ear with your palm still facing the ground.

Press the outside of your left foot into the ground and open your left hip by reaching through your left arm. Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds.

To release yourself from this pose, breathe in and raise your body back up to mountain pose. Stand tall and straight with your feet separated enough to feel stable. Establish a solid connection with the ground by Shifting your weight distribution so that it is equally divided between the base of your big toes, the base of your little toes, and both left and right sides of your heels.

Repeat this process, this time with your right leg extended.

The Eagle

  • Focus: Shoulders
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total Time: 15 to 30 seconds
  • Indications: focus, balance, asthma, sciatica, backache
  • Contraindications: knee injury
The Eagle Yoga Pose

The eagle stretches your shoulders and upper back. Regular performance can improve your focus and boost your balance. Experts credit the eagle pose with relieving symptoms of asthma, sciatica and backaches. Those who have knee injuries should not engage in this pose.

  • Begin by standing in the mountain pose. Stand tall and straight with your feet separated enough to feel stable. Establish a solid connection with the ground by shifting your weight distribution so that it is equally divided between the base of your big toes, the base of your little toes, and both left and right sides of your heels.
  • Bend your knees slightly. Raise your right foot off the ground and balance yourself on your left foot. Bring your right thigh over your left and hook your right foot behind your lower left leg. Stretch your arms out in front of you, crossing the right arm over the left and bending your elbows to bring your upper arms toward your body. Fold your left hand around your inner right wrist and push your palms into each other.
  • Raise your arms until the lower arms are parallel to the ground. Draw your arms together while allowing your shoulders to drop slightly.
  • Let your body weight sink into your left leg, stare straight ahead and breathe steadily. Remain in this position for 30 to 45 seconds.
  • To release yourself from this pose, unwrap your legs followed by your arms and return to mountain pose. Stand tall and straight with your feet separated enough to feel stable. Establish a solid connection with the ground by shifting your weight distribution so that it is equally divided between the base of your big toes, the base of your little toes, and both left and right sides of your heels.
  • Repeat the process, standing on your right foot and crossing the left arm over the right, even as you wrap the left foot over the right.

The Crow

  • Focus: Arms
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total Time: 20 to 60 seconds
  • Indications: balance
  • Contraindications: carpal tunnel syndrome, pregnancy
The Crow Yoga Pose

The crow strengthens your forearms and wrists as well as your pelvis while stretching your upper back and opening up your groin. It also helps to develop your core muscles and enhance your balance. Those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or those who are pregnant should avoid this pose.

Begin by standing in mountain pose. Stand tall and straight with your feet separated enough to feel stable. Establish a solid connection with the ground by shifting your weight distribution so that it is equally divided between the base of your big toes, the base of your little toes, and both left and right sides of your heels.

Squat until you can place your hands flat on the ground, setting them shoulder-width apart. Anchor your palms on the ground about 12 inches in front of your feet. Spread your fingers and press the top joints of each finger into the ground.

Bend your elbows back, keeping them straight. Raise your body onto the balls of your feet and spread your knees open until they are aligned with your upper arms. Gently bring your knees into the backs of your upper arms and shift your body weight onto your hands, raising your head as you move forward.

Support your body on bent toes. Raise one foot off the ground followed by the other. Pull your knees toward your midline and pull your feet toward your hips.

Stay in this position for 20 to 60 seconds. To release yourself from this pose, shift your bodyweight back until both of your feet are back on the ground.

Rise to stand in mountain pose. Stand tall and straight with your feet separated enough to feel stable. Establish a solid connection with the ground by shifting your weight distribution so that it is equally divided between the base of your big toes, the base of your little toes, and both left and right sides of your heels.

The Cow Face

  • Focus: Shoulders and Upper Arms
  • Level: Beginner
  • Total Time: 60 seconds
  • Indications: stress, anxiety, fatigue
  • Contraindications: neck injury, shoulder injury
THe Cow Face Yoga Pose

The cow face stretches your shoulders, triceps and armpits as well as your legs and chest. Those with severe neck or shoulder problems should avoid engaging in this pose.

  • Begin in staff pose: Sit down on the ground and stretch your legs straight forward, flexing your ankles and bending your toes back toward your torso, which is suspended straight and tall from your hips to the sky.
  • Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the ground. Set your left leg across your right thigh, setting the right foot, down on the outside of your right hip. Wrap your right leg over your left thigh, with your right knee on top of your left knee. Then, move your right foot to just outside of your left hip. Your hips should be even as they rest between the soles of your feet.
  • Breathe in and extend your right arm in front of you. Turn your arm inward until your thumb points to the left and your palm faces up. Doing so will cause your upper back to round. Exhale as you move your arm behind your body and rest your forearm in the arch formed by your lower back, keeping the arm parallel to your waist. Push your shoulders down and gently move your hand up until your forearm is vertical. Keep your elbow against the right side of your body.
  • Breathe in and extend your left arm in front of you. Rotate your hand until your palm faces the sky. Breathe out and raise your arm over your head. Stretch through your left fingers. Breathe out and bend your left elbow, placing your left hand behind your head to grasp your right hand, and interlacing your fingers if you can. If your hands cannot touch, hold a towel in your left hand and when you stretch it behind your back, grasp the other end of the towel with your right hand. Use this aid to stretch your arms. Over time, your arms will stretch further until you will be able to grasp your hands.
  • Raise your left elbow and pull your right elbow toward the ground, pulling from the back of your armpit. Tense your shoulder blades across your back and raise your chest. Try to keep your left arm even with the left side of your head.
  • Stay in this position for 60 seconds. Then, unhook your fingers, return your arms to your sides and unfold your legs.
  • Repeat the process, reversing the direction of both arms and legs.

The Dolphin

  • Focus: Arms
  • Level: Beginner
  • Total Time: 3o to 60 seconds
  • Indications: osteoporosis, digestion, high blood pressure, sciatica, asthma
  • Contraindications: modification for neck injury, shoulder injury
The Dolphin Yoga Pose

The dolphin strengthens your arms and legs, at the same time stretching your feet and shoulders. Regular performance can fend off the development of osteoporosis and may improve digestion. It can also provide relief for high blood pressure, sciatica, and asthma. If you have experienced a neck or shoulder injury, keep your knees bent throughout this pose.

  • Begin by getting down on your hands and knees on the ground. Align your knees with your hips. Place your forearms flat on the ground with your wrists aligned with your shoulders. Clasp your hands together and firmly press your forearms into the ground.
  • Flex your toes, breathe out, and lift first your heels, then your knees off the ground, straightening your legs until your knees are only slightly bent. Elongate your tailbone down from your abdomen and gently press it into your pubis. Raise your sitting bones into the air and draw your inner legs into your groin through your inner ankles.
  • Tense your shoulder blades across your back, extend them out from your spine, and press them down toward your tailbone. Keep your head stationary between your upper arms without letting it droop.
  • If you have never incurred a neck or shoulder injury, you can straighten your knees at this point. If your upper back naturally rounds, you do not have to straighten it. Actively elongate your tailbone and raise the top of your chest away from the ground.
  • Remain in this position for 30 to 60 seconds. To release yourself from this pose, breathe out and lower your knees to the ground.

The Eight Angle

  • Focus: Arms
  • Level: Advanced
  • Total Time: 30 to 60 seconds
  • Indications: abdominal organs
  • Contraindications: shoulder, wrist, or elbow injury
The Eight Angle Yoga Pose

The eight angle pose focuses on building strength in your arms and wrists. It is a great position to take on after mastering the standing forward bend, bound angle, four limbed staff, and extended side angle poses. Individuals with shoulder, wrist or elbow injuries should not perform this pose.

  • Begin by standing in mountain pose. Stand tall and straight with your feet separated a little farther than hip width. Establish a solid connection with the ground by shifting your weight distribution so that it is equally divided between the base of your big toes, the base of your little toes, and both left and right sides of your heels.
  • Breathe out and transition into a standing forward bend. Place your hands on the ground beside your feet.
  • Bend your knees slightly and place your right arm inside and then behind your right leg. Press your hand into the ground near your right foot. Slowly move your right arm across the back of your right knee until your knee is up and behind your right shoulder.
  • Support your shoulder with your knee and move your left foot to hook your left ankle over your right. Slightly angle your body to the left, shifting more weight onto your left arm.
  • Gradually, raise your feet off the ground. Breathe out and bend your elbows. Angle your torso forward and let it descend until it is parallel to the ground. Simultaneously let your knees straighten as you stretch your now-straight legs to the right, also parallel to the ground.
  • Press your upper right arm in between your thighs. With the aid of the pressure in your upper arm, rotate your body to the left while keeping your elbows closely tucked in. Stare at the ground as you do this.
  • Remain in this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • To release yourself from this position, gently straighten your arms, raise your torso back up, bend your knees, disconnect your ankles, and set your feet back on the ground. Step back into a standing forward bend and rest for a couple of minutes.
  • Repeat this process to the left side

The Chair

  • Focus: Shoulders
  • Level: Beginner
  • Total Time: 30 to 60 seconds
  • Indications: diaphragm, heart
  • Contraindications: low blood pressure, insomnia, headaches
The Chair Yoga Pose

The chair will stretch your chest and shoulders while simultaneously strengthening your spine and legs. It is also good for your diaphragm and heart. The chair makes a great precursor to the mountain pose or any standing forward bend pose. Those who suffer ongoing low blood pressure, chronic insomnia, or frequent headaches should avoid this one.

  • Begin by standing in mountain pose. Stand tall and straight with your feet separated enough to feel stable. Establish a solid connection with the ground by shifting your weight distribution so that it is equally divided between the base of your big toes, the base of your little toes, and both left and right sides of your heels.
  • Breathe in and raise your arms straight forward with your palms facing, shoulder-width apart.
  • Breathe out as you bend your knees forward to lower your torso while simultaneously raising your arms straight overhead. You want to approach the horizontal with your thighs. Your knees should be above your toes, but never beyond them, and your upper body will lean slightly forward for balance, but you should attempt to keep it as straight as possible. Press the tops of your thighs down into the soles of your feet.
  • Tense your shoulder blades across your back and elongate your tailbone toward the ground and into your pubis.
  • Remain in this position for 30 to 60 seconds, breathing deliberately.
  • To release yourself from this position, breathe in and straighten your knees as you stretch up through your arms. Breathe out and lower your arms to your sides, returning to mountain pose. Stand tall and straight with your feet separated enough to feel stable. Establish a solid connection with the ground by shifting your weight distribution so that it is equally divided between the base of your big toes, the base of your little toes, and both left and right sides of your heels.

The Half Gate

  • Focus: Shoulders/Sides
  • Level: Beginner
  • Total Time: 30 to 60 seconds
  • Indications: stimulates lungs, kidneys, liver
  • Contraindications: knee injury

The half gate pose focuses on opening your shoulders while simultaneously stretching your hamstrings. It can stimulate your lungs and abdominal organs. If you have a knee injury, you should avoid this pose, because it involves standing on one knee.

  • Begin by kneeling on the ground.
  • Raise your right leg and straighten it out to the right, placing your foot on the ground. Aim your right kneecap straight up by rotating your right leg so that your right heel is on the ground and your toes are pointing away from your body. If you can’t get your toes onto the floor, place them atop a block or brace your right foot against a wall.
  • Check to ensure that your hips are level.
  • Raise your arms out to your sides with your palms down. Inhale and let your chest expand. Keep your shoulders relaxed and slightly back as you slowly exhale, keeping your chest opened up. Inhale again as you lower your right arm to rest your hand on the top of your right thigh, then raise and rotate your arm to reach straight up to the stars.
  • Breathe and feel the stretch in your hamstrings and up your torso to your left fingertips.
  • To release yourself from this pose, lower your arms to your sides and return your right leg to its original position.
  • Release those muscles by coming down on all fours; then lower your hips and let your upper body melt over your legs into a child’s pose. Rest here as you breathe in deeply, and then out slowly. Take several breaths before you raise back up onto all fours and prepare to repeat the process to the other side.

The Noose

  • Focus: Shoulders and Chest
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total Time: 30 to 60 seconds
  • Indications: indigestion, asthma, menstrual symptoms
  • Contraindications: knee injury, back injury, herniated disk
The Noose Yoga Pose

The noose is a complex position that focuses on opening your shoulders and chest while simultaneously stretching your thighs, groin, and spine and building strength in your ankles. It can improve both posture and digestion while energizing your abdominal organs. Experts prefer the noose for relief of asthma, back tension, indigestion, gas, and menstrual symptoms. If you have a knee injury, back injury, or a herniated disk you should avoid this pose.

  • Begin by standing to the left of a wall, an arm’s length away, in mountain pose. Stand tall and straight with your feet hip-width. Establish a solid connection with the ground by shifting your weight distribution so that it is equally divided between the base of your big toes, the base of your little toes, and both left and right sides of your heels.
  • Rotate your torso to the right and press your right hand flat against the wall keeping your right arm parallel to the ground. Return your torso to its forward position and lower your arm.
  • Sink down into a full squat until your hips meet your heels. Place your right arm out and touch the wall for balance.
  • Stretch your knees to the left. Breathe out, rotate your torso to the right, and firmly place both of your hands on the wall. At this point, your left elbow should be touching the outside of your right knee. Support yourself on your right hand.
  • Breathe in, slowly move the back of your left arm down your left leg so that your left shoulder moves toward your left knee, thus closing any open space on the left side of your torso. Exhale as you press your left shoulder against your left knee in order to elongate the left side of your body through your inner groin. Keep your stomach relaxed as you do this.
  • Lower your right hand to your side. Continue to breathe steadily as you deepen the twist, letting your left hand touch the ground lightly for balance. When you are firmly balanced on all four points of each foot, bend and reach your arms behind your back and clasp your left wrist with your right hand.
  • Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds. To release yourself from this pose, breathe out, unclasp your hands, and straighten your torso from the twist.
  • Breathe in as you rise to mountain pose. Stand tall and straight. Establish a solid connection with the ground by shifting your weight distribution so that it is equally divided between the base of your big toes, the base of your little toes, and both left and right sides of your heels. Breathe in deeply and slowly, then exhale even more slowly.
  • Repeat the process, this time stretching to the right.

The Peacock

  • Focus: Arms
  • Level: Advanced
  • Total Time: 10+ seconds, depending on experience level
  • Indications: circulation, gall bladder, pancreas, intestines, liver, kidneys
  • Contraindications: elbow injury, wrist injury
The Peacock Yoga Pose

The peacock builds strength in your forearms and wrists while simultaneously strengthening your back and your legs. It is useful to perform the peacock prior to the downward-facing dog or the child’s pose. Anyone with an elbow or wrist injury should forego this pose.

  • Begin in the full lotus position. Sit tall, with your feet straight out in front of you. Rotate your right thigh outward from the hip and bend your knee. Keeping your right knee and foot the same distance from the floor, lift your lower leg with your hands and move it over until your right foot is atop your left hip. Rotate your left hip out and draw your left foot as close to your body as possible. Keeping your left knee and foot the same distance from the floor, lift the leg with your hands and slowly and smoothly bring it up toward your body, placing your left foot atop your right hip.
  • Angle your torso forward and push your palms into the ground, with your fingers pointing back toward your knees.
  • Slightly bend your elbows and bring your outer hands and outer forearms together until they touch. Bend your elbows into a 90-degree angle and walk your knees toward your hands.
  • Angle the front of your body to rest on your upper arms and burrow your elbows below your belly button. Don’t let your elbows move away from each other; if necessary, you can tie them together with a piece of soft fabric.
  • Tense your stomach across your elbows and bring your forehead to the ground. Straighten your knees and extend your legs out behind your body with the tops of your feet touching the ground. Tense your hips and slightly bend your shoulders downward.
  • Raise your head off the ground and gaze ahead. Slightly angle your weight forward to bring your feet off the ground. Your body and legs should be parallel to the ground.
  • Stay in this position for only a handful of seconds at first. Over time, you will be able to increase your time in this pose, as you grow in strength.
  • To exit this pose, lower your head and angle backward until your feet touch the ground. Bend your knees, and raise your torso off your arms. Unlock your legs and let them rest straight ahead of you in staff pose.
  • The next time you do the peacock, reverse your leg position in the lotus.

The Shoulder Press

  • Focus: Arms
  • Level: Advanced
  • Total Time: 30 seconds
  • Indications: balance, indigestion, constipation
  • Contraindications: Elbow, wrist, shoulder, lower back injury
The Shoulder Press Yoga Pose

The shoulder press helps you build strength in your wrists and arms. It can also help you develop good posture. This is a great pose to perform after the eagle, the garland, or any bound angle pose. Individuals with an elbow, wrist, lower back, or shoulder injury should avoid the shoulder press.

  • Begin in a squat with your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart. Angle your torso in between your knees. Staying low, raise your hips until your thighs are almost parallel with the ground.
  • Keep your shoulders and upper arms between your legs, resting your upper arms on your thighs, just above the knee.
  • Plant your left hand on the ground just inside your left foot, with the fingers pointing forward. Repeat this process with your right hand. Your upper back will arch during this process.
  • Press your palms into the ground and gently shift your weight from your feet to your hands. Start to straighten your arms. As you do this, your feet will raise off the ground.
  • Press your outer arms and inner thighs together. If you can, cross both of your ankles. Gaze straight forward. Stay in this position for 30 seconds.
  • To release yourself from this position, bend your elbows, breathe out, and let your feet return to the ground. Shift your weight back onto your feet, then move your arms to your sides, to return to the initial squat position.
  • Relax and breathe.

The Plow

  • Focus: Shoulders
  • Level: Advanced
  • Total Time: Up to 5 minutes
  • Indications: Backache, restlessness, sinus problems, headache, stimulates thyroid; modifications for high blood pressure, asthma
  • Contraindications: Diarrhea, neck injury
The Plow Yoga Pose

The plow opens your shoulders and stretches your spine while energizing your thyroid gland. It can offer relief to individuals with a backache, headache, restlessness, or sinus problems. If you have diarrhea, a neck injury, or are currently menstruating, you should stay away from the plow. Individuals with high blood pressure or asthma can perform this pose with the modification of supporting their legs on a chair or wall. The plow in its full form is a very advanced position that you should introduce yourself to with the help of an experienced instructor before attempting it on your own.

  • Begin in a supported shoulder stand, with your legs pointing up and your hands supporting your back.
  • Breathe out as you slowly bend from your hip joints to bring your feet down to the ground over your head. Keep your legs fully extended and your torso straight and vertical. When your toes reach the ground, lift your thighs and your tailbone toward the sky, pulling your inside groin into your abdomen. Visualize your body as suspended from your groin to make it easier. Move your chin away from your breastbone and relax your throat. Breathe steadily throughout.
  • When your back is stable, lower your arms and clasp your hands together, pressing your arms into the ground. At first, sustain this pose for 30 seconds, but over time, increase the length, up to five minutes.
  • To release from this position, breathe out as you return your hands to your back and raise your legs to return to a supported shoulder stand. From there, inhale, then as you exhale roll out of the shoulder stand into the corpse pose.

Conclusion

I hope this article was able to help you learn how beneficial yoga can be to you, while giving you clear instructions that showed you how to perform the most popular poses easily and with confidence.

Do this before you get distracted by the demands of life. Do it now! Inner wholeness and outer strength await you.

Leave a Comment