In the modern society, we spend most of our time on the computer, or even on our phones, hunching lower and lower, adding tension and stress on the shoulders and neck as the time pass. The trapezius muscles which is responsible for the movement of our shoulder blades becomes tensed up and tight. As we continue to slouch, the front part of our chest becomes tighter and tighter, as the pectorals minor, muscle at the front of our chest, becomes more tensed up. The constant pull of the shoulders forward in and down results in the overstretch of the rhomboids. All in all, as our muscles come tighter each day, pain starts to arise especially in the shoulders and the upper back.
Here are some of the poses which can help to alleviate the muscle tension in the shoulders and the upper back.
- Extended puppy
From table top position, slowly walk your hands further away from you, while keeping your butt still stacked over your hips. Slowly bring your chest towards the mat and sink lower, placing your forehead or your chin(for more stretch in the upper back) on the mat, arms shoulder width apart. This pose helps to open the shoulders and upper back, relieving tension. Hold this pose for 5mins to feel the difference.
- Bow pose
From prone position, bend your knees and grab hold of the outer sides of your feet/ankle. Lift your chest up and kick your legs away from you, forming a bow shape. This pose helps to open up the chest, shoulder, increases the flexibility of the back,, strengthens arms and tones the quads. You can rock back and forth in the pose to massage the internal organs, especially the digestive system(another plus point). Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths.
- Fish pose
Lie down on your back, legs extended, place your palms beneath your butt cheeks, palm facing down. Slowly lift your chest up, placing the crown of your head on the mat, opening the chest, stretching the front neck. You can place a block underneath the torso for more height and chest opener. Note that your weight should be on the arms/ block and not at the crown of the head. Hold the pose for 2-3mins.
- Dolphin pose
From downward dog, come onto your forearms and bring your chest closer to your thighs, relaxing your neck. You should feel the shoulders opening as we bring the shoulder blades closer together, shoulders away from the ears, while at the same time stretching your hamstrings and calfs, strengthening your shoulders and forearms. Hold it there for 10 breaths.
- Humble warrior
From Warrior 2, interlace your fingers from the back and slowly bring your head down to the side our your leg, reaching your head to the mat if possible. Bring your shoulders away from the ears, reaching your hands towards the mat, stretching the shoulders and opening up the chest. This pose also helps to strengthen the legs as we engage those leg muscles. Hold the pose for 10 breaths.
These poses helps to open the chest, stretching the chest muscles, relieving the tension in the muscles of the chest and shoulders. The shoulder openers helps to counter the effects of the slouching shoulders, bringing the shoulder blades together, stretching the trapezius muscles, while contracting and strengthening the rhomboids. Hope your chest and shoulders will feel more open and no more slouchy shoulders;)