Practice Shoulder Clock Pose: Yoga Warmup at the Wall

Article At A Glance

From driving to working at a desk, so much of modern-day life can cause us to hunch and round our shoulders. The good news is practicing shoulder openers like the Shoulder Clock outlined below can reverse this habitual posture by encouraging gentle heart-opening. Read on to learn how to practice this posture to open the upper body! 

Using the wall to support shoulder openers to stretch and strengthen our arms, chest, and shoulders gives us that extra resistance to bring nutrient-rich blood to our tissues and prevent overstretching. Pressing into the wall during these positions can be invigorating and create a lot of sensations in the body. 

Gravity, computer/telephone work, and driving can create patterns of collapse, rounding, and even hunching in our chest and shoulders. Practicing these poses at the wall encourages the opposite movements and can cultivate balance and alignment in this region of our body.

Take it slowly and find your “edge,” the position that feels like not too much and not too little sensation. Then, carefully explore your range of motion—practice within your unique window of tolerance for sensation.

As you practice, keep these words in mind: open, expand, extend, release, engage, spread, and broaden.

Possible Benefits and Experiences of Yoga’s Shoulder Openers

  • Promotes openness and expansion in the chest and shoulders.
  • It provides resistance to activate muscles while stretching.
  • It provides resistance for muscle contraction, thus preventing over-stretching.
  • Stretches the muscles of the arms, upper back, and shoulder girdle.
  • Cultivates a greater range of motion in the shoulders.
  • Releases shoulder tension and stress.

Shoulder Openers #1: How to Practice Shoulder Clock Pose at the Wall

  1. Stand sideways in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your feet together or hip-width apart, a foot or less from the wall. If your shoulders feel tight or your chest rotates toward the wall, you may have to increase your distance.
  2. Raise your arm closest to the wall to the imaginary point of 12 o’clock.Clock Face Pose is a Shoulder Opener practiced with the support of the wall
  3. With your index finger pointing toward the ceiling, spread your fingers apart wide. Move your whole arm and not just your hand or wrist. When you practice Shoulder Openers at the wall you can adjust the intensity of the pose.
  4. Ground your feet as you straighten and stretch your arm, lifting your elbow off the wall.You can move slowly and deliberately into at the wall poses so you can adjust the intensity of a pose by making adjustments.
  5. Keep your palm pressing firmly into the wall and press your shoulders actively down from your ears.
  6. From there, slowly move your hand back to the imaginary points of 1 or 2 o’clock (if your right arm is raised) and toward 11 or 10 o’clock (if your left arm is raised). Move mindfully and slowly. You may need to move your body away from the wall as you lower the angle of your arm. 
  7. Walk your hand back more to increase the stretch and the sensations without arching your back. 
  8. Turn your feet a few inches away from the wall to deepen further.
  9. To come out of the pose, turn your feet forward again and slowly release your arm in front of you. Notice the sensations and enjoy the after-effects.
  10. Turn around and repeat the pose on the other arm.

Yoga Prop Suggestions for Shoulder Clock Pose

Place a yoga block between your inner knees or upper thighs to help activate your legs and maintain leg alignment.

 “Home Play” Experiments: Explore and Deepen This Shoulder Opener

  • Experiment with your arm placement on the face of the clock.
  • Raise your elbow higher off the wall and notice the effects.
  • Relax your shoulders if you become aware of them hunching.
  • Press your palm more firmly into the wall.
  • As you walk your feet away from the wall, notice any new sensations in your arms and back.
  • After you release your arm, take a look in the mirror. Does your stretched arm look longer than the other one?

How to Practice Yoga’s Shoulder Clock Pose with Care

  • Keep your spine elongated and engage your abdominal muscles to prevent your lower back.
  • If your elbows hyperextend, keep a slight bend in your elbow, and do not fully straighten your arm while it is overhead.
  • Overstretching ligaments in our joints is not a healthy practice. Don’t force your arm to reach further behind you than is comfortable.
  • If, at any point during the pose, your hand or arm starts to tingle and “fall asleep,” discontinue practicing the pose and allow your arm to hang by your side.

Shoulder Opener #2: How to Practice Pectoralis-Arm-Shoulder Stretch Variation at the Wall

  1. Stand facing away from the wall with your feet together, or hip-width apart, your arm’s distance from the wall. If your arm and shoulders feel tight, you may have to change your distance from the wall. 
  2. Keep your chest and hips facing forward as you enjoy the position and breathe.
  3. Raise your arm out to the side of you to about shoulder height, if possible. Then, like a hitchhiker, point your thumb up to the ceiling.
  4. Spread your fingers. Touch your fingertips to the wall behind you. You do not need to go further if you feel a stretching sensation in your arm.
  5. From there, slowly move your hand backward until your palm presses part-way or flat against the wall. Step back if you cannot fully flatten your palm.Hitchhiker Pose, a shoulder opener, can be practiced at the wall or away from the wall
  6. Inch your hand behind you more if you want to go deeper into the posture without arching your back. Practicing poses at the wall helps give the student good feedback on alignment
  7. To release the pose, allow your arm to return to your side.
  8. Repeat the pose on the other arm.

Yoga Prop Suggestions

Place a yoga block between your inner knees or upper thighs to activate your legs and maintain leg alignment.

Imagery for Alignment

Visualize an elastic band stretching from your wrist to the center of your chest. With each inhale, the band gets longer.

 “Home Play” Experiments: Explore and Deepen This Yoga Shoulder Opener

Experiment with your hand placement. Place your hand higher or lower on the wall

Relax your shoulders if you become aware of them hunching. Stay conscious of your breath and constantly breathe throughout the pose.

Press your palm more or less firmly into the wall. Become aware of your reactions if the sensations become too intense. Do you push yourself? Do you retreat at the slightest discomfort? What are you afraid of?

Stephanie Ann Pappas is the author of Yoga at Your Wall, Yoga Posture Adjustments and Assisting, and Las Posturas de Yoga in Spanish. Her books are available on and other online bookstores.

Stephanie has been practicing yoga and meditation since 1982. She has directed spiritually oriented yoga teacher trainings since 1998, and in 2002 she founded the Devalila Yoga teacher training school, a 200-hour registered program which as certified over 300 teachers.


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