More Happy Shoulders

Who doesn’t get tight, stressed out shoulders every now and then?  It’s a wonderful thing to know that yoga poses can help alleviate that tension and stress that creeps unwelcome into our neck and shoulders.  In this post you’ll find a video and some yoga poses that are super wonderful for releasing stress, lifting your mood, and creating a nice open chest.  We’ll stand taller and look a little brighter. 

If you missed last week’s post with Happy Shoulder Tips check it out first.

This series uses a yoga block quite a bit.  So if you don’t have a block, no worries!  Grab a full tissue box, your shoe, or even a water bottle.  It’s easy to get creative and work these things out.

Thank you so much for playing yoga with me!  It’s a joy to share this practice with you!  If there is something you are struggling with in your practice, let me know in the comments below.  

with love and light,


Grab this FREE More Happy Shoulders Yoga Video

All the Happy Shoulder Tips listed in the blog are interwoven into a quick 14 minute practice! Gracie the Boston Terrier makes an appearance!  Don’t miss it!  She loves Savasana just like us!

Happy Shoulders

Tip #1 – Be open to Adventure

shoulder opener irena miller

Supine Mountain Pose – Tadasana

Grab a yoga block.  If you don’t have one, grab a full tissue box, or even your shoe can work!!

  1. Squeeze the block between your hands.
  2. Reach the block for the sky – bring the arms out of socket (be smart and don’t hurt yourself, you just want to feel what you don’t want to do).
  3. Draw the arms into socket.  Shoulder blades touch the mat.
  4. Do steps 1-3 three times.
  5. Then keep your arms in socket, shoulder blades touch the mat, and start to reach your arms overhead.
  6. Keep moving the ribs towards the floor and avoid over arching the lower back.
  7. Try this for a few rounds.
  8. Have fun and keep breathing!

Happy Shoulders

Tip #2 – beware of crocodile smiles!

bridge pose irena miller

Modified Bridge Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

This pose is fabulous for placing the shoulders into ‘anatomical neutral’.  Where the head of the arm bones move back towards the floor, the shoulder blades support us on our upper back, and we set the stage for the coming shoulder work.

  1. Start supine (on your back 🙂 ) with legs bent, feet flat on mat, hip’s distance wide.
  2. Place a block between your thighs and gently squeeze the block.  (This will fire the inner thighs, stabilize the hips, help us to avoid over using the glutes, and basically keep our lower back happy!!)
  3. Using crocodile or cactus arms (just like the picture, arms are at 90 degrees, palms face up), press the feet down, thighs squeeze block, lift the hips.
  4. Take 5 breaths and slower lower.
  5. Give it another try!

Happy Shoulders

Tip #3 – Twist and shout!

jathara parivartanasana irena miller

Variations on Jathara Parivartanasana

This is a great one for strengthening the shoulders – specifically the rotator cuff and whittling away the waistline!  

  1. Start supine (on your back 🙂 ) with legs bent, feet flat on mat, hip’s distance wide.
  2. Place a block between your thighs and gently squeeze the block.  (This will fire the inner thighs, stabilize the hips, help us to avoid over using the glutes, and basically keep our lower back happy!!)
  3. Lift your feet.  Thighs still squeeze block.
  4. Root through your left shoulder – don’t let it leave the floor.
  5. Lower your bent legs halfway to the right.  Keep both shoulders rooted!
  6. Come back through center and lower your legs halfway to the left, keeping right shoulder rooted.
  7. If that was breathable and easy, try straightening your left leg, keep right leg bent.  Thighs squeeze block.  Lower legs halfway towards the floor to the right. 
  8. Keep your left shoulder rooted to the floor!
  9. Exhale, root through those left ribs come back to center.
  10. Bend left leg, straighten right leg, thighs squeeze block, lower legs halfway to the left.
  11. Keep your right shoulder rooted to the floor!  It should feel harder than before with both legs bent.
  12. Come back to center.
  13. If you really want spicy, go through steps 1 – 6 with both legs straight!
  14. Pay attention to what your body is telling you!  If you’re lower back doesn’t like it, back up, do less, or skip this one!  Listen to your body and gut instincts.

Happy Shoulders

Tip #4 – Root to rise!

bridge pose setu bandha irena miller

 Bridge Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

In order to grow tall like the mighty oak tree, we must plant deep roots.  Because we can only grow as tall as our roots are deep.

  1. Using the block between the feet.  The block is at it’s lowest height, feet are flat on the mat, and inner edges of the feet gently squeeze the block.
  2. Take a deep breath and lengthen through your side bodies – from the hips to the underarms.
  3. Bend the arms, press the elbows firmly into your mat.  Feel the upper back engage and the shoulder blades draw towards one another.  Notice the lift through the chest.
  4. Root down through the feet, the elbows, and the back of the head and slowly lift the hips up off the mat.
  5. You can stay in this variation or gently roll the shoulders underneath yourself.  
  6. Stretch your arms straight and press the forearms into the floor.
  7. Take a few breaths.
  8. Release your hands, shoulders, and hips slowly towards the floor.

Happy Shoulders

Tip #5 – Fill your well

camel pose ustrasana irena miller

Insert Italian accent – “Like-a dis or like-a dat!”  You can modify your camel pose to suit your spirit!

ustrasana camel irena miller

Camel Pose – Ustrasana

A camel knows when it’s important to fill up.  If your well is filled, you’ll be able to keep on going.  Feed your spirit!

  1. Starting from a kneeling position – knees and feet hip distance wide.
  2. Place your hands on your hips.
  3. With a deep breath, lengthen from the hips to the under arms.
  4. Draw the shoulder blades towards each other and down the back.  The tips of the shoulder blades gently press forward to help lift and open the chest.
  5. Use your hands to lengthen your buttocks towards the floor.
  6. Allow your hips to come forward while the tops of your thighs resist.
  7. Curl the chest back and open the heart.
  8. Repeat steps 3 – 6 and reach your hands for your feet.
  9. Gently slide the head back into the pillow of support that the shoulder blades created.
  10. Root down through the hands to lift up through the heart.
  11. There should be no pain or discomfort in the neck or the lower back.  If there is, something’s off, come out of the pose slowly.  Skip it for now or modify as you need to.  
  12. Come out of the pose the same way you came into it.  Root down through the thighs. Lift up through the chest and slowly come back up.