Tight chest muscles can be the result of poor posture, sitting for extended periods of time hunched over your computer or other everyday activities involving the forward rotation and slumping of your shoulders. Performing specific yoga chest opener exercises may help alleviate pain, increase your range of motion and prepare you to perform yoga poses that require chest flexibility, according to yoga instructor Kim McNeil, writing for MyYogaOnline.
This restorative heart opening exercise can help broaden your collar bones and expand your chest, according to yoga instructor Kate Hanley in an article for Gaiam Life. To perform this pose, you will need a folded blanket and a yoga block. Lie on your back with the yoga block vertical with your spine and directly between your shoulder blades, using the blanket to support your head and neck. If you feel that the block is too high, use another, lower object for support, such as a small pillow. Allow your head and neck to relax and let your shoulders fall away from each other toward the floor, creating an arch in your back, which will help to open your chest. Lengthen your spine. Close your eyes and relax, focusing on your breathing. Stay in this pose for two minutes.
Seated Chest Opener
You can perform this simple seated chest opening exercise at your desk or any time you can sit for a few minutes in a chair. Sit in your chair with your buttocks resting against the back of the chair, knees around hip-width apart and feet flat on the floor. Lengthen your spine and sit up straight. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Bring your hands to the back of your chair, holding the corners of the chair with your hands. Expand your chest and broaden your rib cage. Look forward, keeping your neck in line with your spine and your chin lifted. Stay in this pose for up to one minute.
The Cobra pose is a beneficial chest opener that can also strengthen your gluteal muscles and stretch the abdomen and groin, according to yoga instructor Anna Meyer. Lie on your stomach with your legs straight, toes pointed and your elbows bent, hands resting next to your chest. Inhale and press your hands firmly into the floor to raise your chest and torso off the floor. Rest your hips on the floor, creating an arch in your back. Puff your rib cage forward and broaden your chest and shoulders. Look slightly upwards toward the ceiling without throwing your head back. Lengthen your neck and press your shoulders away from your ears. Stay in this pose for 15 to 30 seconds, then lower back down to the floor.
Chest-Opening Forward Bend
This chest-opening forward bend stretches and broadens your chest and shoulder area. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Align your head, neck and spine and relax your shoulders. Inhale and bend forward from your hips, bending your knees slightly if your hamstrings are tight. Relax your neck and shoulders. Interlace your hands behind your back and raise your arms away from your body toward the ceiling until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders. Stay in this pose for one minute, then return to a standing position.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.