Yoga for Neck and Shoulders

Shoulder and neck stiffness and pain is now an epidemic. Constantly gazing at the computer or your mobile, improper sitting and sleeping postures, excessive use of weights, improper alignment, etc. are few of the common trigger factors of neck and shoulder pain. In addition, any injury to the cervical spine could also lead to a stiff neck and slouching shoulders. Irrespective of the cause, you could use this yoga for neck and shoulders routine to release the muscles, open up your shoulders, ease the pain, and improve flexibility of the joints.

Yoga for Neck and Shoulders

  1. Utthita Shishosana or Anahatasana – Extended Puppy or Heart Melting Pose

A generous backbend and a heart opener, it relaxes the muscle in the upper and middle back.

Come on all your fours, stacking the wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Extend your feet so that toes point backward. Inhale and as you exhale, slowly stretch out your arms until your chest rests on the floor. Keep your hips above your knees. Rest your palms flat on the floor, as wide as your shoulders. If possible, rest your chin or forehead on the floor. Hold the posture, breathing deeply for 6 minutes.

If you have any knee injury, place a folded blanket beneath your knees for additional support.

  1. Thread the Needle Pose

It is a great way to release the tension stored in your shoulders as well as upper back. Also, being a twist, it promotes detoxification.

From the previous pose, inhale and slide your right arm under and through your left armpit. Exhale and rest the right side of your temple on your right side.  Gaze up. If you are comfortable and able to balance here, bend your left arm and rest it against your back. Hold the posture for 3 minutes. Inhale and come back to Anahatasana. Repeat on the other side for 3 minutes.

  1. Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose

This is not the classical pose, but comes with a variation here. While one of your hands rest on your back, the other one rests on your forehead. This, ideally, releases the strain from your shoulder and neck muscles.

From Thread The Needle Pose, lie down on your abdomen. Stretch your arms backward and rest them our your lower back. Rest your forehead on the floor. Inhale and lift your torso. Simultaneously, sweep your left arm wide and forward, bend your elbow and rest your left arm against your forehead. Hold it for 1 minute. Exhale and come back to the starting posture. Repeat on the other side for 1 minute. Practice 2 more repetitions.

  1. Gomukhasana – Cow Face

It is a classical yoga posture to open the shoulders and release any knots located within the muscles. In addition, it also strengthens your arms and opens up your chest while relaxing your neck.

From Bhujangasana, roll to your right and sit down in Vajrasana. Lift right arm to the ceiling. Bend right elbow and rest the right hand between shoulder blades. Take left hand backwards and interlace the fingers of both palms to create a stretch as to open the shoulder. Lean back slightly into arms, without putting any pressure on neck. Stay here for 3 minutes. Breathe deeply.

Exhale and release the posture. Repeat on the other side.

  1. Reverse Prayer Pose

This one again works on your upper back, releasing the tension stored in your shoulders as well as neck.

Fold your arms on your back and join the palms as if your are saying Namaste. Let the fingertips point to the ceiling. If you are not able to join your palms, rest your forearms across your back and hold opposite elbows. Roll your shoulders away from your neck and ears so that shoulder blades are in touch. Hold the posture, keeping your spine erect for 3 minutes.

  1. Neck Rotations

You can do this any time. It is very beneficial if your job involves sitting on the desk for prolonged hours.

Sit in any comfortable seated posture, keeping your spine erect. Keep your neck in a neutral position. Inhale and tilt it back and to the right. Rotate it to the front, allowing your chin to come close to the chest. As you exhale, rotate it to your left and back. Once you complete 5 times, repeat in the anti-clockwise manner.

  1. Neck Rolls

Moving your head forward and backward and to the sides helps to stretch the area and ease stress, if any. However, do not practice these moves if you have a sprain.

Sit in any comfortable seated posture, keeping your spine erect. Keep your neck in a neutral position. Inhale and tilt your head to the right. Exhale and bring it back to the center. Repeat four more times. Now, inhale and tilt your head to the left. Exhale and bring it back to the center. Repeat four more times.

Inhale and tilt to your head backward. As you exhale, tuck your chin to your chest. Repeat 5 such times.

All these yoga poses for neck and shoulders are considered safe. But, before you start practicing, check with your doctor if you feel the ache is not just a sprain.