Below, for your viewing pleasure, and the freedom of unwrapping tightness in all three portions of the trapezius muscle, without an untidy extraction of one necessary four-chambered, blood-filled organ, is a video of  Reverse Crucifix. It is one of my favorites and I use it in my Vinyasa classes often. I am particularly fond of the moment when the chin lowers and the upper trapezius is liberated from the many hours it spends holding up our heavy heads. The middle and lower trapezius will also be quite pleased being released from the bondage of vulture-like, internally rotated, sad clown shoulders-sagging-forward sort of posture that is so common to the general population. (I can claim having previously been one of those…but then i wised up and became a Yoga Tune Up® teacher and now show my spine, my body, and yes, even my heart – the respect of which it is indeed worthy). Here’s hoping you do the same for yours.

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Nicolette David

Nicolette David is originally from Catalina Island. In her former life, she taught high school English both in the states and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria. She teaches Vinyasa Flow and Yoga Tune Up® in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, CA. She has a love affair with tattoos, breathing, and Gil Hedley poetry.

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Thank you Nicolette for sharing so much about the Trapezius. It is very interesting that one muscle is connect to so many other muscles and also be involved in so many movement. Plus, most of the time these might be the cause of some chronic pain or discomfort.

Dejia B.

Easily one of the best releases that I have EVER felt in my upper back. I was so pleased to feel my shoulders slide down my back into better alignment as I stood up due to all of the extra space I was able to open up in the stretch. My neck was a little touchy in this so I found it helpful to have a block under my forehead. Thanks for sharing!

susan kjesbo

So many people have a tight trapezius muscle. I found this pose to be not so easy and it brought to my attention the imbalances I have from one side to the other. Guess I have some work to do to come back to better balance and also better alignment! Thanks Nicolette.

Colleen Collins

I just watched the blog on neck pain and did the exercise with head on the block with the balls and it relieved a lot of tension I didn’t know I had but made me very aware of the tension in the rest of my trapezius so tried this one and by joe I think I got it! I think this might be addictive because now I notice tension a little lower. Full back roll out maybe?


I agree this is great for relieving tension from the upper back and neck but i am so congested in the front of my body that it is really uncomfortable. I would also be interested in how you can keep the deep stretch across the back but with less contractive intensity across the anterior deltoids and upper pecs.

Andrea Loper

Thank you for highlighting that Reverse Crucifix is a stretch focused on relieving and lengthening the upper trapezius. I find Reverse Crucifix a great posture in principle, but when I do it…my chest muscles go into a spasm. Any other recommendations on YTU postures that releive the upper traps that are not quite as counter-dramatic? Thanks for any guidance.


For me this a new way to strecth all the upper back. Very helpful if you like to practice arm balances and handstand, and also if your bakc is stiff. Looking to practice myself and also with my stiffy students.

kim haegele

Looking forward to doing this myself and then passing it on to my students.

Stephanie Fish

Thank you for your post and sharing the video of this pose. I’ve seen a photo, but never done it. Hello deltoid-stretch. No more sad clown. 🙂

Katie Fornika

I love sharing this pose with my classes! I always get a mixture of “ahhh” and “uuuggghh” when students are connecting with a part of themselves that hasn’t had conscious care in a long time. Then I’ll put them in a variation of open sesame after to get the feeling of freedom back into the upper chest.

Michelle Dalbec

Nicolette – ah my upper back, shoulder and neck are feeling a little vulture-ish these days, love your descriptive words. So many things in our culture are driving the upper back and neck into a cluster of tension, a knot of stress. I love the feeling of putting myself in a bit of traction without distraction in this pose. The upper portion of the upper back being peeled opened in this luscious pose. Teasing the muscles into their lengthened state so they can “reset” themselves. Thanks!!


Awesome post, this has inspired my class for tomorrow morning. When I first started having to plan out my vinyasa classes I would pick a “peak pose” and then fill in the rest with postures that looked similar to it. Since Yoga Tune Up ® training I learned that to really put together an intelligent sequence you needed to get inside the body and think through how muscles pull on bones and build from there. As mentally painful it was to do those context grids I now see the purpose… 🙂


I am constantly experiencing tightness in my traps. Since learning reverse crucifix, I will lie in my living room regularly in this pose for at least 1-2 minutes at a time.
This at least helps me release my traps and upper back, so I can walk like a human, rather than like my humerus are dangling from my ear lobes.


I am constantly experiencing tightness in my traps. Since learning reverse crucifix, I will lie in my living room regularly in this pose for at least 1-2 minutes at a time. This at least helps me release my traps and upper back, so I can walk like a human, rather than like my humerus are dangling from my ear lobes.

Jona Joyce

I love this stretch and often use a standing closed-chain one-arm version for those people who might be too tight to get into the full stretch shown.


This is a favorite of mine to spend some good time as well. If you’re experiencing a lot of resistance here, it’s an opportunity to really use Yogic Complete Breath to allow yourself to go further into the stretch (as with so many other Yoga Tune Up openers). I myself will not only feel this one broadening through the trapezius muscles, but also into the deltoids. And as I encounter resistance here, my breath allows increased access to the greater potential of the stretch. And as a bonus, you’re doing so little work at this point, it’s almost like a… Read more »