As a teacher of yoga, I constantly witness how so many common poses we practice in vinyasa classes are affected by shoulder mobility and flexibility—or lack thereof. Our shoulders have a primary or secondary action in almost every yoga pose. And in many of these poses, we demand a lot from our shoulders—think Downward-Facing Dog, Chaturanga, and Plank. Further, we find ourselves constantly hunched over phones and computers and phones, which results in our shoulders being in protraction for long portions of the day.
The strength of our muscles is, of course, an important component of a physical yoga practice. But so are flexibility and mobility.
Yin Yoga is a slow-paced practice of stretching that’s centered around opening the smallest fibers between your joints. I like to think of Yin Yoga as the physical practice of opening from the tiniest points of closure, coupled with a mental practice of observing our reactions when we are asked to slow down. Yin Yoga gives us a chance to work on the flexibility of the deepest parts of our bodies and our minds at a slow and careful pace. Through this practice, we create more elasticity in our joints, which in turn helps overall mobility, whether you’re practicing yoga or experiencing life.
See also: 7 Yoga Poses to Release Tight Shoulders
A Yin Yoga sequence for tight shoulders
In Yin Yoga, the focus is on the sensation in the targeted area for each posture. Although it typically focuses on areas of the body from your knees to your navel, the following approach specifically targets your shoulders and upper back. The shapes will look different in each of us because we are all put together differently. As you move through this practice, aim for a level of sensation that creates a sense of manageable discomfort as opposed to trying to conform to what you see on Instagram, in an online class, or at the studio.