Yoga for Your Neck and Shoulders

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This is Yoga for Neck and Shoulders. If you find yourself hunched over a screen for several hours a day, these postures can help prevent pain and bring you more awareness of your posture. Take a seat. Come over to your yoga mat. We're going to use a blanket here, and a pillow.

To take a good, comfortable seat, cross the legs if that feels right. You can place your hands on your knees, and lengthen through the spine. Take a few deep breaths, lengthening the side body. Feeling your spine balancing over the hips.

Gently roll the shoulders back, and lengthen the neck, bringing your awareness to your neck and shoulders. Start to drop your chin toward your chest, stretching the back of the neck here, lifting the head back to the center, dropping the right ear to the right shoulder. Bring the head back to the center, and drop the left ear toward the left shoulder.

So we're going to do this about two or three times. So starting with the chin toward the chest, the right ear drops to the right, coming back to the center. Left ear drops to the left, and rolling the chin back to the center. You can do half neck rolls if that feels good, just rolling the chin side to side of the shoulders, or you can do full neck rolls here. You're warming up the muscles around the neck, softening the jaw, starting to really become aware of what's going on in your neck and shoulders.

Coming back to the center, and removing the seat, the pillow, and the cushion. In table pose, spread the palms. Lift the right arm out, parallel to the floor, and then extend the right arm long, gently resting on the side of your head, and the right shoulder's resting. Touching the palms, if that feels OK.

You can stay here, or you can let the top arm go to the sky. Just take a few breaths. Threading the needle opens the shoulders, the chest, the arms, the upper back, and the neck. If you want to go into a twist, you can let the top hand move toward the low back. And just take long breath here.

Reach the arm back to the sky. If you did the twist, touch the palms. Gently lift yourself up, using your left hand to press yourself back into table. Left arm comes out long. Thread it through, and just let the back shoulder rest, and the side of the head rest on the mat. Lifting the top arm.

If you want, you can snake the right fingertips back toward the low back, or reaching toward the inner thigh. That just gives you a little more twist. This pose is really helping to shrug the tension out of the shoulder blades.

After a few breaths, unwind yourself. Take the right hand on the floor, and just gently lift back into table. Come on up. We're going to walk to the front of your mat. Reach your arms all the way up to the sky. Interlace your fingers. Press your palms up to the sky.

You can look up toward your fingertips, or if your neck doesn't like that, you can gently drop the chin. Just lengthening here, pressing away. You're strengthening the legs, you're working on balance, and you're also shrugging the shoulders.

Release the arms. Clasp them behind you, and fold forward. This is a pretty deep stretch, here, for the shoulders, drawing the shoulder blades together. You're also stretching through the front of the shoulder head, here. And you're working on balance, keeping your knees soft.

Inhale, lift yourself up. Release the hands. Stepping the right leg forward, bending the right knee. Warrior II pose. Pressing into the edge of the back left foot, and arms in line with the legs. Just gaze over the right fingertips. Relax your shoulders.

If you'd like to try a deeper pose that's a little deeper for the shoulders, you can clasp your hands. Take your right ear toward the right ankle bone. This is humble warrior. It's a power pose that really improves circulation and balance and opens the hips.

And just coming out of the pose, turn your left toes toward the back of the mat. Take warrior II the other way. You're welcome to stay here. Relax your shoulders, lengthening your neck. Or you can go into humble warrior. Interlace your fingers. Take your left ear toward the left ankle.

When you're upside down like this, the pose focuses more on the shoulders. Coming out of the pose, and we're going to come to seated on the mat. And let yourself lie down. Lengthen your spine. Notice how your shoulders and neck feel.

We're going to slowly move into shoulder stand, but it is not for people who have cervical spine issues or any disk issues in the neck. Your hands take the low back. You press the upper arm bones into the mat, and lift the legs toward the sky. At the same time, the chin moves toward the chest.

It really opens the shoulders and neck. At the same time, it stretches the legs, the butt, the arms, and also the abs. You can try plow pose, where you just take the legs, and gently, you can stretch them over your head. If your toes reach the floor, you can put your toenails on the floor.

Interlace your hands, pressing the arms into the mat. That keeps the stretch going in the shoulders. Take long, deep breaths here. Support yourself when you come out of this pose, letting the hands go in the low back. Slowly let the spine release. Relax your shoulders. Relax the upper back.

With the hands on the mat, scoot your arms under where you're actually sitting on your forearms. Lift up into your elbows. This is fish pose. Most of the weight is in the elbows. 80% of the weight in the elbows, 20% on the top of your head.

This is opening the throat and the muscles of the upper chest that tend to contract when you're hunched over a screen. So this really helps open them up. Very slowly come out of this pose. I'm going to remove the arms first, then let the spine gently come back to the mat. Always rest after these poses, allowing yourself to rest deeply.