After sitting at a computer desk all day, you may come home with a serious case of stiff, aching shoulders. Poor posture combined with repetitive motions is a recipe for developing stiff shoulders. According to "Yoga Journal," the shoulder joint is designed for a wide range of motion, but is quite unstable and easily injured. If you feel muscle soreness and stiffness in the shoulders due to a known cause, such as office work, moving heavy equipment, sports or exercise, try practicing several yoga poses known to relieve shoulder tension. If the cause of your shoulder stiffness is unknown, consult your doctor.
Start in cat/cow pose. Cat/cow pose helps to loosen shoulder muscles subtly and gently as you prepare for deeper shoulder openers. Move to all fours with your wrists below your shoulders and knees below your hips. Inhale and drop your belly toward the floor as you curl your head, shoulders and tailbone up to the sky. On your exhale, curl the head, shoulders and tailbone in toward your middle, as the spine rounds. Keep curling the shoulders in and out, linking the movements to the breath for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Come to a seated position with your legs crossed lightly or seated in a chair. Reach the right arm up and bend the elbow, bringing the right hand in between the shoulder blades. Reach behind your back with your left hand and try to grasp the right fingers. If you cannot reach the right hand, hold a yoga strap or towel with both hands. Hold the pose for five full breaths and repeat on the other side.
Move to a kneeling position for Camel pose. Press your hands into your lower back and roll the shoulders up and back. Try to press the elbows together behind your back. You could stay here breathing deeply as you open the heart and shoulders or move into the full expression of the pose. Drop the hands from your lower back to your feet and grab your ankles. Press the pelvis forward to stabilize your hips and protect your lower back. Take five full breaths before moving out of the pose.
Give your shoulders an intense stretch to remove any built up lactic acid that may cause muscle soreness and stiffness with Bow pose. Come to lying on your stomach and bend your knees, bringing your feet close to your buttocks. Reach back with both hands and grab both of your feet. Kick your feet away from your buttocks as you lift your shoulders and upper torso off of the floor. Stay in this pose for five full breaths.
Take a warm bath and massage your shoulders with massage oil or olive oil after practicing these yoga shoulder poses to increase the effects.
Stop performing any pose if you feel any pain. You should feel a deep stretch in the muscles, but never a pain in the joint.