Try this Yoga Tune Up® pose Reverse Crucifix to stretch the rhomboids major and minor. If the serratus anterior is going to do its job holding your scapula on your back, we need its antagonist – the rhomboids – to be supple and pliant. Otherwise, it’s just a big tug-of-war between serratus anterior and rhomboids to see who gets the scapula!

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Sarah Court

Sarah Court is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Yoga Tune Up® Teacher Trainer, and the creator of Quantum Leap. She teaches public workshops, anatomy for yoga teacher trainings, and trains Yoga Tune Up® teachers worldwide. She developed and teaches her Quantum Leap continuing education program to make sophisticated movement science easy for movement teachers to understand and apply to their teaching. Sarah received her doctorate in Physical Therapy from Mount St. Mary’s University. She brings significant clinical experience to her teaching, attracting clients and students with a desire to move intelligently, regain mobility, or manage chronic conditions. Sarah is an award-winning graduate of Princeton University, and edited the Yoga Tune Up® blog for 5 years. She has been featured on exercise.com and The New York Times. Find her Yoga Tune Up® schedule here or go to her full website.

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alice yuan

I love the Reverse Crucifix! When my shoulders are overworked, I would stretch them out by going into this pose for about 10 breaths; not only am I stretching out the rhomboids, I am also able to feel the space between my shoulder as I take in air. It feels so good!

Milidi

Cant wait to get on the floor and sence into the tug a war. Thank your for the visual.

sue o

An awkward but wonderful stretch! I liked the version we did in training with blocks under the hands. Great cue to press the thumbs into the floor to be sure to get the shoulder rotating internally.

Susannah Nelson

I first did Reverse Crucifix in my Level 1 training what a great way to find out who is going to win the tug of war SO aptly put Sarah. My rhomboids regularly win, so it’s good to have a pose to bring some awareness to my serratus anterior. It feels challenging & great to do, thanks for sharing.

Juliet Hewitt

Reverse Crucifix is such a challenging pose but great for stretching the muscles of the upper back. I think one of the keys to getting into it well is to place your arms and them roll forward slightly using your feet. If your arms are too high, you bypass the benefits of the pose.

Katy

I really dig this move, or lack of haaaaa
I am concerned that it would be too much for people, I’m thinking Crossfitters or people w larger shoulders , I’m guess modification would be one arm at a time ?? And Jill made this up?! So creative!!!! Thank you!

Katy

I have done something similar to this, but never have I seen a video demo! Def great for desk sitters and CrossFitters!

Tiffany

I love this pose for myself, but I teach a lot of meaty dudes at my CrossFit gym. I wonder if anchoring the arms on the floor would make it a bit more accessible than Eagle arms for my meaty guys? I’ll have to give it a try!

Angi bloom

I love reading the comments others make and look forward to creating more supple shoulders. Who knows perhaps one day I’ll be able to do gomukasana arms.

Karolina Hess

This is becoming one of my favorite shoulder stretches. Feels lovely after a yoga call to release all of the down dogs and planks. Thank you!

Linda

We didn’t have a chance to do the reverse crucifix in the Level 1 training today, but I am aware of the pose from the Yoga Link DVD. Every massage reveals a tightness in the rhomboids. I forgot about this stretch, so thank you Sarah and Jill for reminding me of this option to get relief in the tension in my rhomboids.

Ed

Thank you for posting this with such a engaging title. As one who as had problems with my scapula winging out and suffered as a result, and as one who has found relief doing reverse-crucifix-like poses in the past, it is ironic that I forget to do the pose more regularly :^/

Brent

I like pressing down through the thumbs. Great stuff!

Brent

I often do this with palms up pressing down through the back of the hands but appreciate the subtle difference of the palms don and pressing through thumbs

Brent

I have always done this one with the palms facing up but am looking forward to playing with palms down and pressing through the thumbs.

Hans

Hi, thanks for the video. Was happy to find it because my trapezius and rhomboids really need stretching out. For some reason my LHS rhomboid has the tendency to stay contracted. Anyhow, when doing this stretch I can hardly feel anything going on on the upper back and it seems a simple stretch to follow so can’t understand why. I do feel a strong stretch on the upper arms just below the shoulders. Is it just a case of continuing until these upper arm muscles release at which point the rhomboids will be stretched more? Any other ideas?

Ilene

Thanks for this blog post and video. Garadusana is one of my favorite poses, yet it’s challenging for my students. We learned this Reverse Crucifix in my YTU training yesterday, and it’s great to watch Jill teach it. I can’t wait to practice and teach this.

Nadjiba Medjaoui

Yes it is a great pose to stretch the rhomboids, I find it a little challenging with a large chest though.

Kayleigh

This is a great pose, although it does feel a bit awkward if you have a larger chest. It can be hard to figure out how to position the ideal arm position when breast tissue is preventing you from moving forward on the mat.

Lindsay

I am so curious about this pose… we haven’t covered it in our training but will certainly be asking for more information. I have tried it a few times and can’t seem to access the rhomboids. Like Amanda, I do, however feel a great restriction in the lower arm middle delt fibers. I am curious about this as I think it could help many of my clients ( & clearly me!) Thank you for bringing it to the forefront of my attention.

Amanda M

I have been struggling with this movement and I thought it was due to tightness in my anterior deltoids, but I am starting to wonder if perhaps the restriction is coming from the serratus. Something the play with over the next couple of days.

Veronica

This pose is very necessary for the health of the shoulders. It should be more frequently use in Yoga classes in order to release the rhomboid major and minor, specially after practicing handstands and arm balances. Also for the daily life you can remove the tension in the shoulders.

mimi martel

really love that stress however currently pregnant I cannot do it on the floor… so a pose orientation switch was propose to me against the wall (standing). As I cross my arms over I could feel the stretch but not as much as I can feel it when on the floor (gravity matter!)… so my teacher did that great PNF for me: he hold my wrist as I pulled (abducted) my arms away and contracted the rhomboids then release ! it felt wonderful!!! love this idea will definitely share to anyone ( not just pregnant woman) that feel very uncomfortable… Read more »

Kristin

This pose is a real eye-opener and can feel so different on one side over another. Tug of war is the perfect way to put it and it’s not realized into you get into a pose like this and see how necessary it is to the health of your upper back.

Jennie Cohen

I feel this pretty intensely in the lower fibers of my trapezius. I was surprised to experience any sensation at all: we spend so much time slumped forward, I don’t usually worry about needing to stretch the musculature of the upper and middle back.

Chris

When working with elderly, this a wonderfully simple stretch to incorporate into a practice (as gravity does the majority of the work!). I will certainly be adding this into several of my warm up routines as well. With all the muscles located in the upper back, finding such a simple passive stretch that gets at so many (rhomboids major and minor, serratus anterioris, Deltoids, Trapezius, infraspinatus, etc ) is a real time saver.

Christine

Wow. I am going to be using this all the time now. That area is so congested in my body I’m constantly trying to wrench myself out of it.

Seriously. I’m going to do it right now.

Lisa S

I only recently discovered my serratus anterior and I have been using the crap out of it! I love the strength and support I can access in my plank, chaturanga and downdog but I’m still working on the fine tuning. After reading your post, I think I might have a bit of the tug a war going on. Boy does reverse crucifix ever feel good! Thank-you!

Kevyn

I’ve been doing this stretch in my yoga classes for a while now after I learned it from a YTU teacher. It is one of my favorites and now I know why, it hits all my trigger points!

Nicolette

Love this post!

I think I first met this pose in one of Jeff Lang’s YTU classes and it felt so good and so silly at the same time 😉

My experience and maybe the cue I can’t remember it was awhile ago was focused on the the deltoids and the rotator cuffs.

Now watching this clip and seeing all the buzz about what it can do for the rhomboids and serratus anterior is exciting! Looking forward to exploring this more.

Thank you!

Leslie Van Schaack

Pamela’s comment about the serratus anteior being a ‘weak link’ is so true for me. I don’t remember if it was a yoga teacher or a massage therapist who first helped me ‘find’ this muscle again but they both have at one point or another. From a yoga perspective I forget about it easily and from the massage side it was brought up as something that may be causing some of the problems in the ‘OUCH’ of all my back knots. I had to think back to my anatomy and it was a bit of a : oh yeah!! I’d… Read more »

Meredith Brockriede

What a great stretch to add to the teaching arsenal! Thanks for bringing my awareness to this video, Sarah. This is a great stretch to balance out contraction of the rhomboids (such as in “bridge arms” or in prasarita padottanasana C).

Jenn

I love this post Sarah – I have been practicing a lot of body surfing at the wall and assisted pull ups and this is a great release.

Jenny Buchanan

This is really helpful Sarah. Just since our Level I training 3 weeks ago, I’ve been noticing how many students retract the scapula unknowingly. It seems to be a common response to abducting the shoulders. As was mentioned above by Amalea, “finding” my serratus anterior in connection to plank and downward dog was a new concept to me.
And it absolutely feels like a drink of cool water to practice reverse Crucifix after backbends!
Thank you.

Celeste L.

I love that by reading this blog post and the comments that follow, I learned how/when is the best time to use this as a prepatory stretch, or as an un-winding stretch at the class ends if there was alot of Rhomboid firing. And the connection between the Rhomboids and Seratus that compliment each other as oppositional forces that are perfectly dynamically contracted during this particular variation!

Jane

I don’t think I have ever felt such a fantastic stretch and release of my rhomboids. I especially enjoy how gravity is used with the weight of the body to deepen this stretch. Thank you forever! This accesses a huge problem area for me personally.

rebecca

Because every movement is an assessment in YTU- stretching is just as important a strengthening. What a yummy stretch for the rhomboids- separating the muscle fibers so each fiber can literally push it’s own weight.

Tracy L

Until the YTU training, I was ignorant to the importance of the serratus anterior and it has been such a huge eye-opener for my self and to share with my students. Just, wow! Thank you so much! This is changing everything and understanding the connections all around my scapulae, which is my personal challenge. I’ve been working on my rhomboids with the Yoga Tune Up therapy balls, but not stretching. This is a great one that I will incorporate!

Amalea

During our training, I was not able to access my serratus anterior. We did tons of YTU ball work on the back and felt exactly why – the rhomboids! Between this stretch and ball work, it should be easier to access this area.

JL

Yet another reminder just how much I need to incorporate rhomboid stretches into my post work out routines for my ladies here at JL CORE ENERGY STUDIO. I do a strength classes twice weekly and often do back lift exercises but no back stretching at the end. I will definitely get them to do this when I do back and biceps next week. JL OUT

Pamela Forth

Great blog … I have found in my teaching the Serratus Anterior is the weak link in many of my clients and seems to be a blind spot, and yet the rhomboids and mid traps are over firing so this stretch to release these muscles makes sense so that hopefully once they stop over firing they can find ways to fire the serratus anterior to help with upward rotation of the scapula in so many of the Pilates moves that need it!