In a truly neutral standing body, the elbows orient to the sides. Kind of like C-3PO!
Wide elbows unwind the muscles and fascia of the neck and shoulders, and encourage equivalent openness in the front and back of the ribcage/ yogic heart space. As the elbows orient to the sides you might find you can settle into the back body more, encouraging introspection and an internal re-charge.
Yoga communities generally emphasizes very externally rotated arms, elbows that point back, and shoulders that "roll back." Although this is a valid and useful posture to practice in the context of a balanced sequence, it is not a neutral position and shouldn't be treated as such.
Every time you practice external rotation in the arms (which opens the chest and extends the spine), also practice some internal rotation in the arms (which helps to round the spine and widen the shoulder blades). Then, you will cultivate truly balanced shoulders that hang in a neutral position.
Here's a practice for wide elbows:
1) Stand with your legs under you for support. Soften and relax. Breathe into the shoulder area. Let go of any "doing" or "fixing" in the shoulders.
2) Place your hands on your hips and take your elbows wide. Think of C-3PO! You may have to bring the elbows forward from their usual position in order to orient them truly to the sides. Gently elongate the spine. Let the front of your ribcage be wide and let the back of the ribcage be wide. Imagine the back of the heart expanding as much as the front of the heart.
3) Now let the arms surrender to gravity and hang -- and see if the elbows can continue to face the sides rather than back. Let the palms face back. It might feel difficult or strange at first. It will get easier as you balance your muscles and fascia with bodywork, stretching, and corrective movement.
For more practices like this, download the Stack Your Bones App for free!