Essential Yoga Body Parts

Trapezius and Yoga

Posted on 2019-02-15

The trapezius is a muscle that works closely with the scapula or shoulder blade. The trapezius consists of three parts, namely:

Trapezius Muscles Anatomy

  • The upper trapezius. 
  • The middle trapezius. 
  • The lower trapezius.
Trapezius Muscles Anatomy

The trapezius is a superficial muscle layer with four sides at the back. The latissimus dorsi muscle covers the trapezius to an extent. The upper trapezius originates on the base of the occiput (back of your neck), the ligamentum nuchae, and the spinous processes of vertebrae C1 to C7.

The middle trapezius originates on the spinous processes of C7 to C3, and the lower trapezius originates at the spinous processes of T4 to T12.

The upper trapezius has its insertion on the lateral clavicle and acromion process, while the middle and lower trapezius both insert on the spine of the scapula.


All three components of the trapezius rotate the scapula upward (as you lift the arms toward the ceiling). Apart from rotating the scapula, each section specializes in its movement.

  • The upper trapezius performs elevation; it lifts the shoulder blades, as when you lift the arms towards the ceiling during a Sun Salutation or standing postures.
  • The middle trapezius performs a retraction; draws the shoulder blades towards each other, as in the cobra pose.
  • The lower trapezius performs depression; pulls the shoulder blades down, as in an upward facing dog or sphinx pose. 


Trapezius strains are common injuries that typically result in lowering strength in the arms, reducing the range of motion, and causing trapezius muscle pain.


A strain typically happens when you stretch the fibers inside the trapezius beyond its limit. A strain can occur over time or suddenly due to an injury. One of the best ways to increase your trapezius’s strength and flexibility is with yoga for neck and shoulder tension, trapezius exercises for pain, and trapezius stretches.

If a person is stressed or anxious, their trapezius may tighten, increasing the risk of an injury due to strain. A tense upper trapezius can also result in a headache and neck pain. Yoga can help to manage this stress and alleviate tension in the trapezius. (How to Heal a Trapezius Strain? n.d.)

Yoga for Shoulder Pain

For most people, the upper trapezius is overused as the tension, desk work, bad posture get stuck there, etc. This usually is not the case with the middle and lower trapezius. Therefore, focusing on yoga exercises to strengthen and lengthen the lower and middle trapezius makes sense.

The first useful yoga asana is called the Fish pose. Sit down on your mat with your legs extended in front of you. Lift your torso and place your palms down underneath the small of your back. While inhaling, arch your back, lift your chest towards the sky, and put the top of your head on your mat.

fish pose yoga

The second pose to strengthen the trapezium is called the Locust. Lie on your stomach and let your arms lie beside your thighs with your palms on the floor. While inhaling, lift your chest, arms, and legs as high as you can from the floor while keeping them straight. When you exhale, lower your limbs and torso back to your mat.

salabasana yoga posture

Repeat this exercise five to ten times per session to increase the strength of your lower and middle trapezius and to stretch the muscles to increase flexibility. Incorporating these exercises into your practice routine may help to prevent trapezius strains in the future.

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