Grab a pair of yoga blocks and stretch into these chest-opening poses to improve your posture and relieve tight muscles.
Many of us spend the majority of our time hunched over at our computers and phones, causing a lasting forward rolled posture.
This rounded posture not only weakens back muscles, but also shortens the muscles in your chest, making good posture feel like a strain. An imbalance between shortened chest muscles and a weakened back can cause all sorts of pain and discomfort if left untreated.
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These simple chest-opening yoga poses will help you maintain good posture and alleviate tight, painful shoulders. Check out the beginner’s tips for each movement if it’s your first time trying these poses.
I recommend including these five stretches at the end of your workout up to three times per week to see fast results.
All you need is a yoga mat and two yoga blocks to get started!
Prone Twist with Block | 5 breaths (2 reps per side)
- Lie belly down on your mat with a block under your head.
- Reach your left arm out and place your palm flat on the ground.
- Turn your face to the right, keeping your head on the block.
- Lift your right leg over your left and place your foot on the ground.
- Twist your hips and press your right hand into the ground to assist with the twist.
- You should feel a big stretch across your left chest and shoulder.
- Hold for five breaths, then switch sides.
- Complete two reps on each side.
Beginner’s tip: You’re going to love this one! This pose is great for all levels. If the stretch feels too intense, simply rotate your hips a little less. You can adjust the intensity of the stretch just by rolling your hips forward or back.
Double Block Lying Cactus | 10 breaths
- Arrange your blocks on your mat so that one is on its medium height to sit directly under your rib cage and the other is on its lowest height to support your head.
- Gently lower yourself onto the blocks, adjusting until you find a comfortable position.
- Create a butterfly shape with your legs by bringing the soles of your feet together and allowing knees to fall open.
- Rest your arms on the ground in a cactus position, with elbows bent at 90-degree angles and your palms facing up.
- Roll your shoulders back until you feel a stretch across your chest.
- Breathe deeply for 10 breaths, allowing your chest muscles to relax with each breath.
Beginner’s Tip: If the block underneath your ribs feels like too much, you can reduce it to the lowest height or use a rolled-up towel or pillow instead. Keep in mind that you do need to have some elevation under your back to feel the stretch.
Puppy Pose with Blocks | 5 breaths
- Place your two blocks flat on the ground, about one foot apart.
- Get into an all-fours position with your toes tucked under.
- Bend your elbows and place them on the blocks.
- Lower your head down to the ground between the blocks.
- Bring your hands together in a prayer position behind your neck.
- Begin deep breathing and continue melting your chest towards the ground with each exhale. Hold for five breaths.
Beginner’s tip: This will stretch your shoulders a lot. If you find you’re feeling it too much in the shoulders and not enough in the chest, try widening the blocks a bit. If the prayer position feels like too much, try resting your hands on the ground instead.
Revolving Forward Bend with Block | 3 breaths (2 reps per side)
- Stand with your feet as wide as your mat, toes slightly pointed out.
- Hinge at the hips to fold forward as you maintain a straight back.
- Place one block on its highest height on the ground just below your shoulders.
- Holding onto the block with your left hand, reach your right arm straight up.
- Reach with your fingertips to lengthen the line you are forming with your arms.
- Roll your shoulders onto your back to open your chest.
- Take three deep breaths, then rest a moment and repeat on the other side.
- Complete two reps per side.
Beginner’s Tip: This is a great hamstring and low back stretch as well. If you feel the stretch too much in your back and legs, you may bend your knees slightly to help you focus more on the chest. This can also be done from an all-fours position, without the block, for a modified version.
Half Moon with Block | 3 breaths (2 reps per side)
- Stand in the middle of your mat and root your right foot to the ground with toes pointing forward.
- Place one block, on it-’s highest height, about 2 feet in front of your toes.
- Lean down and place your right hand on the block, pressing down as you extend your left leg so that it’s parallel with the ground.
- Raise your right arm towards the sky. Align your shoulders so that your arms form a straight vertical line.
- Draw your shoulder blades firmly onto your back to open your chest.
- Balance in this position for three deep breaths as you continuously lengthen the line you are forming with your arms.
- Rest a moment and repeat on the other side.
- Complete two reps per side.
Beginner’s Tip: This is the most challenging of these five stretches. It requires balance and spatial awareness. If you are struggling to balance, you can practice this with your back arm and leg against a wall. This modification might also help you to rotate open enough to feel the stretch. Touching the wall with the back of your top hand can give you something to reach for to increase the stretch.
(Your Next Workout: 13 Gentle Yoga Stretches for Neck Pain Relief)