Yoga for Neck And Shoulder Pain
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Mobility and stability in the neck and shoulder region can help combat stress and pressures due to bad posture, bad seating, or prolonged hours of an uncomfortable position. Here is a short yoga sequence that focuses on helping you relieve neck and shoulder pain.
Due to the pandemic, we have spent the past few years hunched in front of a laptop as we work from home which tends to put a lot of tension on the shoulders as well as the neck region, so today I'm going to help you with a few practices that will help release all that tension and help you feel better.
Namaste I'm Carolyn welcome to Shvasa.com and in today's class we'll focus on two key aspects for healthier shoulders as well as to release strain from the neck, the first is to focus on the mobility of the shoulder and the neck region and the second is to focus on the stability of the shoulder region as well as the neck region. Let's get started join me on the mat. We'll start today's session with some shoulder movements just to increase the mobility of the shoulders, so placing your palms on the shoulders inhaling try to move the elbows up, exhale open the chest and elbows together
Let's do two more counts, inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale, now moving in the opposite direction, inhale elbows up, exhale try to bring your elbows together, inhale,
Exhale, inhale and exhale, good and slowly release the palms try to interlock the fingers and extend your arms forward, and inhale try to move the arms up lengthen the spine, exhale release.
Do this for a few more counts again interlocking, extend forward, extending the arms up exhale release. Interlock extend the arms forward, arms up, exhale release, last two interlock extending forward, arms up and exhale release, again interlock extend arms up and exhale release the arms. Now moving to the next movement try to interlock your fingers behind your back, check that your palms are together move your chest forward and look up, inhaling deeply and exhale try to bend forward if you can place your forehead down and relax your arms away from the back, we'll do a few more rounds inhaling come back up, look up, exhale and bend forward,
Three more, inhale, exhale forward, inhale up, exhale forward, focus on moving your arms away from the back and last one, inhale up, look up, and exhale forward now inhaling come back up and slowly release the palms.
Now we'll move to neck movements check that the spine is lengthened and as you exhale slowly turn towards the right, trying to look over the right shoulder, inhaling come back, exhale to the left. Let's do a few more counts, inhale, exhale right, inhale forward, exhale left, forward, right, forward, left, last two, right, inhale, and exhale, left, this is part of your asana practice just be aware of the neck movements especially when you're practicing Drishti and focusing on one point while you practice the asanas and exhale to the left, come back now we'll move to the next movement.
Trying to move your chin down towards the chest, if you notice any strain or if you have cervical spondylitis you can avoid this posture, just look forward and focus on your breathing, if you're comfortable continue with the practice, inhale and exhale down, try to move your chin towards the chest inhaling come back up, exhale, three more, inhale exhale, inhale, exhale, and last one, inhaling exhale, inhale back to centre try to move your right ear towards the right shoulder, inhaling come back exhale to the left, inhale exhale, inhale exhale, let's do three more, inhale exhale, inhaling.
The last one inhale this time moving your right ear to the right shoulder try to place your right palm on the left here, breathe here, keeping your awareness on the left side of the neck, three more counts, three, two; relax your left shoulder and one exhale slowly release the right palm coming back to the centre.
Let's do the other side, moving your left ear to the left shoulder, place your left palm on the right ear and breathe here again focus on relaxing the right shoulder, five, keep breathing, four, three, two, and one. Slowly release the left palm to come back to the centre.
Now we'll do half rotations moving, turning to the right and move from the right side, moving the chin down and to the left come back, inhale, exhaling towards the right, let's do three more counts, inhale, exhale to the left, inhale, exhale to the right, exhaling to the left, exhale to the right and the last one, exhaling to the left, inhale, exhale come back to the right.
Now we look at the second aspect which is focusing on the stability of the shoulder and the neck region, for this first we'll start with focusing on the grip trying to really engage the shoulders as you grip in some of the postures and then we'll focus on thoracic spine flexibility which I'll get to a little later. Let's start with Ustrasana or camel pose and here try to really focus on the grip and engage your shoulders as you practice this posture.
So start by keeping your knees hip-distance apart, relax your toes back, work on engaging the hips, engage the core, arch back, release your palm down, and maintain a firm grip focus on engaging the shoulders and if you can release the other palm down as well now see if you can move your hips and chest forward, keep your neck relaxed and breathe, keep your awareness on the grip focus on the shoulders here, five, four, three,
two and one. Gently release one palm, release the other and take a short break relaxing in Shashankasana relax your forehead down, and inhaling slowly come up sit to one side and release your legs forward.
Now we'll focus on Pashimothanasana or the seated forward bend here try to really focus on the grip, gripping strong with the arms and engaging the shoulders, now if you can't go all the way you can also bend your knees trying to place the abdomen closer to the thighs, inhaling lengthen and exhale trying to bend forward keep moving your abdomen closer, today really focus on keeping the grip strong rather than just placing your palms, try to maintain a strong grip engaging the shoulders and keep trying to get deeper into the posture, breathing here, stay here for five counts.
Awareness on the shoulders, three more counts, three, two, and one. Slowly release your palms and inhaling come back up.
Now for the next posture, lie down on your abdomen, relaxing your toes back, we'll be doing a supported version of Bhujangasana, placing your forearms down and now we're looking at the second aspect which is the thoracic spine flexibility, so trying to keep your elbows firm, press into the palms focus on moving the shoulders back, expanding the chest, keep the hips firm, and look forward breathing deep into the chest. Stay here for five counts. Five, four, three two, and one. Slowly walk your palms back and move into a tabletop position, now generally because of limited thoracic spine flexibility we tend to put too much strain on the neck and the shoulders so these two postures will really help relieve some of that strain and also increase the flexibility of the thoracic spine.
So we move to the next posture, we'll be doing cat-cow pose, here check that your palms are shoulder-width apart, knees hip-width apart, relaxing your toes, inhaling trying to look up if you can or look forward, arch the back, here we focus more on the lower back, when you exhale try to round your back and move your chin towards the chest.
Let's do two more rounds, inhaling try to straighten the arms and exhale, press into the palms and round the back, last one; inhale and exhale, coming back to center,
Now let's do a twist variation, moving your left palm in between, inhale and try to extend your right arm up, if you're comfortable look up, exhale trying to bring your right arm under, see if you can place your right shoulder down use your left palm to open the chest, again inhaling up, and exhale, last one; inhale and exhale, and slowly come back and release the right palm.
Let's do the same on the other side moving your right palm in between, inhale and extend and exhale try to move the left shoulder down, two more; inhale and exhale, last one; inhale and exhale, and slowly release the left palm, moving your hips to the heels. Sit in Vajrasana.
Thank you for practicing with me I hope you already feel better in your neck and the shoulder region, now try to loosen and practice these mobility practices. Some of them you can also practice at the desk while you're at work try to take a few breaks and just loosen up and don't forget the second part where we focus on the grip as well as the thoracic spine flexibility, that will really help you release all that tension from the shoulders and the neck.
For more online live classes do check out Shvasa.com, thank you, Namaste.
Carolyn is a yoga practitioner and educator, food writer, and HR(Learning& Development) professional. She was exposed to fitness and movement from a very young age, and yoga started as a part of her athletics training in 2006. It was only 10 years later that she took up the practice as part of her daily life. Originally from the land of Ayurveda, she started her journey at Sivananda ashram - learning asanas, pranayama, and meditation techniques from traditional masters, then she went on to explore other lineages and has practiced under prolific masters of Hatha, Ashtanga, and Iyengar yoga. She has also done advanced programs at Isha Yoga Center under the guidance of Sadhguru. Carolyn is an internationally certified 500RYT and QCI Level 2 Instructor.