Yoga stretches can help lengthen and relax muscles in the body, including the diamond-shaped trapezius muscle that runs along the back. The trapezius has a tough job that involves connecting the neck and shoulder muscles in different ranges of motion. Working with the shoulder blade, the trapezius can help lift and rotate the upper body. It can also help draw the shoulder blades, also called the scapula, together to help create better posture. A tight or uncomfortable trapezius section can restrict or restrain these movements. With gentle yoga stretching, the muscle might become relaxed.
Child’s pose is one of yoga’s great resting poses, but it’s also an effective pose for stretching the trapezius, according to "Yoga Journal." To enter child’s pose, kneel on your yoga mat with knees together -- alternately, with your knees lined up with the mat’s edges. Bend over so that your torso rests on top of your thighs, if your knees are together. If your knees are lined up with the mat, bend enough to allow your chest to rest on the mat between the knees. Keep your neck lightly extended, with your arms stretched in front of you, palms down. Breathe deeply, relaxing through your shoulders, so that your trapezius can stretch.
Fly Like an Eagle
"Yoga Journal" states that eagle pose is another appropriate pose for stretching the trapezius. To get into eagle pose, stand with both feet pressed firmly into your mat. Bend both knees slightly. Then, grounding your weight into your right foot, carefully lift up your left leg and cross it over your right leg. To facilitate the trapezius stretch, extend both arms in front of you and then cross them into an X shape so that your left arm is on top. Bend in the elbows and bring the palms to touch. For a deeper stretch through the trapezius, lift your crossed arms and palms slightly so that your elbows are elevated higher than your shoulder blades.
Hug It Out
Another way to stretch the trapezius muscle is through the yoga self-hug. This is a gentle stretch you can complete sitting down or standing up, which makes it an effective stretch during the workday. To complete a self-hug, sit up straight and allow your shoulders to relax and drop away from your ears. Extend your arms in front of you, and then bend in the elbows so that your left hand rests behind your right shoulder and your right hand rests behind your left shoulder. It will look and feel like you’re giving yourself a hug, but this is more than just self-love. By using your hands to press gently into the back and drawing your shoulder blades closer to the chest, you’ll receive an effective trapezius stretch.
The Dog Days
Downward dog is a classic yoga pose that can be used to stretch the lower trapezius while strengthening other areas of the body. From a standing position, get into downward facing dog by bending over and placing both palms on the floor with your fingertips spread wide. Step back and raise your tailbone until your body finds an upside-down V-shape. Allow your back to relax and enjoy the trapezius stretch.