Jillian uses affiliate links in this post, meaning she may get a commission for any purchases made using these links. Commissions go towards keeping this site active. For more information, please see her Privacy and Disclosure Policies page. Read on for some easy yoga poses that will help correct your posture!
Preface to this post: I just wanted to start off with a quick preface. Myself, nor any bloggers I may feature this month, are allowed to diagnose or prescribe. We are not Doctors, and may only share information and advice that comes from within our scope of practice. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist, licensed by the state of PA: #MSG007989. You may read a little more about what I do here.
EASY Yoga Poses to correct rounded shoulders & forward head
As a Licensed Massage Therapist, I am always being asked what a client can do to help correct bad posture and relieve the pain that goes along with it. I am finally writing a post to try to explain my most popular suggestions for those who suffer from some posture problems I see most often. The most noticeable problems I see in my office is “forward head” and “rounded shoulders.”
This is how I explain it to my clients:
So many people these days have their arms reached out and shoulders hunched up and forward. In most cases it is because as a society we are constantly on our phones, laptops, and other electronic devices. After a while your body will start to mold into these positions, causing misalignments which then eventually cause pain. With our arms out in front of us so often, it pulls our shoulders and back forward, which also pulls the neck and head. What massage and yoga try to accomplish is re-align the tissues and body structure back to “center”; the most ideal, proper alignment.
I am writing also from a point of view of a person who also suffers with these problems. As a massage therapist/blogger/piano teacher my hands are always out in front of me for many reasons! In between getting a massage myself, I often do short yoga workouts and stretches to help re-align my spine and shoulder structure. There are many cheap or free classes in my local area in South-Central PA. I have participated in a few, but most of the time I practice on my own. Yoga can be as easy or complicated as you want it to be, you just have to know where, when, and how much you want to do for a start.
I often suggest yoga to my clients no matter what their need is. It has been especially helpful for both myself and others who suffer from rounded shoulders and forward head position. I must mention I am not a certified yoga instructor, but have practiced for several years, and studied some inside of my massage studies. I am also writing from my own experience as someone who has felt and seen the benefits of these poses for myself!
Here are some easy yoga poses I first suggest to my clients, and practice myself.
I usually do a short yoga routine as part of my cool down just after working or running. If I do it alone, I like to begin with a few arm movements and stretches as a quick warm-up. These movements are pretty easy, and will get things loosened up so the yoga poses will easier correct my tissues and all.
Stand tall with arms straight down at sides. Roll shoulders up, then back, then down in a fluid motion. Repeat this movement about 10 times, then reverse it, rolling forward about 10 times.
Stand tall with arms reached out to the side on each side away from your body. Make big, slow circles with your arm. I make a few small ones forwards, and then backwards. Repeat 10 times in each direction. Maintain good posture throughout, especially when moving forward: Do not slouch or round the back forward.
Before I go on, I must explain my not-the-usual workout outfit. I usually do not do the typical workout blogger look of capri leggings and a sports bra. It is winter here afterall, and therefore cold. Plus are these star wars leggings not super fun? Read more about where I got my outfit in this post. Going on now, these next two stretches are the two I always first tell my clients to try.
You should feel a stretch in your pecs (chest.)
Standing straight in front of a doorframe, a person should place one hand on either side of the frame, just above head height. Moving one foot forward and gently lunging past the frame will stretch the chest and shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat.
Wall Chest Stretch
This stretch relieves tightness in the pecs and the subscapularis.
Stand with your right shoulder about a foot away from a wall.
Reach your right arm back behind you and place your hand on the wall so that it is in line with your shoulder.
Take a step closer to the wall to feel a stretch through your right shoulder and chest. Then, slightly rotate your chest outward to feel the stretch intensify.
Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Easy Yoga Poses. Emphasis on EASY!
If you never tried yoga before, do not fear! Take a deep breathe, and go as slow as you need to. I included more silly photos of myself demonstrating to try to help. The only thing you will need is a yoga mat! I prefer extra thick yoga mats in case I attend a class outdoors during the nicer months. I would recommend this mat (on sale now at Target!)
These 2 combined yoga poses help to warm the entire spine, while also stretching the rhomboids and the trapezius, loosening up tightness in the upper back. Not only do these two poses warm up and stretch your back, shoulders, chest, and neck, but they also help relieve other ailments like stress and menstrual cramps.
Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Stack your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees.
On an inhale, tilt your tailbone towards the sky, lowering your belly towards the floor to come into cow pose. Squeeze your shoulders together and keep your neck long. Feel a stretch through your abdomen.
Exhale and round your spine up towards the sky to come into cat pose. Draw your navel up and in towards your spine while tucking your chin to your chest and gazing at your belly. Press the ground away and feel a stretch through your mid and upper back.
Continue flowing between your cow and cat pose for 8 rounds of breath.
This pose releases tightness in the trapezius, lats, serratus anterior, chest, and shoulders.
As you can see, someone was trying to play supervisor. It is the “puppy” pose afterall!
Start in a tabletop position with your hips stacked over your knees.
Keeping your hips stacked, walk your hands towards the top of your mat to lower your chest towards the floor. Bring your forehead to rest on the mat.
Feel a stretch through your lats, shoulders, and chest. Hold for 8 breaths.
This pose stretches the muscles between the ribs, opens the shoulders, and helps release tension in the lats. I will explain how to do the usual pose facing forward, and then the side stretch version. Really, I think this is the easiest of all easy yoga poses!
Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
Bring your feet together and take your knees out wide towards the edges of your mat.
Sit your hips back onto your heels and then walk your hands towards the top of the mat, lowering your chest towards the floor. Let your forehead rest on the mat.
Side stretches: Walk your hands over to the right edge of your mat and gently press your hips towards the left to feel a stretch through your left side.
Hold for 8 breaths, then switch sides.
This opens up the shoulders and stretches your pecs.
Reach right arm straight up, then bend elbow and let hand fall behind your head. Move left arm behind the back and bend the arm, letting the back of your left hand rest against the right shoulder blade (or as close to the blade as possible). Reach to grab right fingertips with the left hand. Repeat on the other side. Make it easier: If you cannot reach the fingertips of the opposite hand, use a towel to assist, creating a light amount of tension by gently pulling on the towel in opposite directions.
Modified Staff Pose
This opens up your chest, and pulls your shoulders back.
Start in a seated position, and put your legs out straight in front of you to come into Staff Pose. You should be sitting in an upright position with your hands flat on the ground next to your hips, fingers facing forward and feet flexed.
Start to walk your hands back behind your slowly, until they are a few inches away from your hips, just slightly farther out than your shoulders. Make sure your fingers are still facing forward.
Press into your palms and lift through your chest, looking up towards the ceiling.
Stretches pecs across your chest. Also good to strengthen back muscles and stretch tight quads in your upper legs.
Scoot your shoulders deep underneath you to help pull the shoulder blades back into place, but also to stretch out the tightening muscles across your chest.
I highly suggest giving these easy yoga poses a shot, and see how you feel! It is amazing what even one session can do! I hope it works for you like it does me. Let me know in the comments if you tried any of these!
Thanks for reading,
Suggested items for Yoga & Self-care: (click to shop!)