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Shoulder-Opening Yoga Sequence

by Namit Kathoria

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Good posture makes all the difference, both in yoga and your general life! Here is a yoga sequence that will help you open your shoulders. Before you begin, however, make sure that the environment is safe, practice with caution, and push yourself only as much as you are comfortable.

1) Start with wide-angled forward bend with the fingers interlocked behind you and gently take the hands forward towards the ground.

2) Next, come to extended warrior pose. This is like the warrior pose, except it involves interlocking your fingers, bending forward, and taking your hands overhead to a comfortable position. This is an intense shoulder-opening posture.

3) Sarpasana or snake pose is the next posture. This opens up the upper back and the shoulders.

4) Baddha hasta padmasana is a complicated binding posture that we do afterward. Start by binding at just one side. Repeat on the other side until you are flexible enough to bind from both sides.

5) Dhanurasana or the bow pose is the next posture. It opens up the back and the shoulders very deeply. Start with your knees on the ground, and when you get more confident, take your knees off the ground.

6) The scorpion pose follows. When you start practicing this posture, commence with your feet touching and pushing against a wall. Do this until you feel comfortable and balanced. You can then slowly start to move your feet away from the wall one by one.

7) Next is the feathered peacock pose, or pincha mayurasana, which is a forearm balance that strengthens out and stretches the shoulders. It is also an inversion, and like other inversions, it offers some health benefits such as bringing oxygenated blood to the brain. 

8) The inverted staff pose or viparita dandasana is the final posture. This is a very advanced posture, so only do this posture when you are ready. This is really nice for opening up your shoulders.


The upward bow pose. Image: Yoga Sutra Shala


To perform the pose, start from the upward bow pose, or urdhva dhanurasana, and then lower down into the posture, binding your hands and straightening your legs with guidance from your teacher until you are confident enough to do this by yourself.

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