A stiff neck, tight shoulders and chronic headaches all make everyday activities difficult, stressful, and uncomfortable. Thankfully, there are yoga postures that can help alleviate aching, sore neck and shoulder muscles. These postures offer gentle stretches intended to restore strength and flexibility to the area and contribute to a healthier body and mind. Here are 8 yoga poses for neck and shoulders.
Ustrasana, also known as Camel Pose, stretches the entire front of the body, including the throat, chest, abdomen, and hips. Start by kneeling on the floor with your hands on your hips. Lean back so that your palms are on the heel of each foot. Push your chest forward and your buttocks back. Hold for 30-60 seconds, aiming to expand your lungs. To release the pose, slide your hands up the shins and come back to a kneeling position.
Gomukhasana, otherwise known as the Cow’s Face Pose, is a reclined hip-opening posture. To get into the posture, lie on your back and cross your legs so that each knee rests outside of the opposite hip. Bringing your mind to the shoulder blades, relax your arms to the sides while pressing your hands into the floor. You may enhance the shoulder opening by clasping the hands behind the back. Stay in the pose for 5-10 deep breaths before releasing.
The Cobra Pose, or Bhujangasana, is a great way to gently open the shoulders and neck muscles. Start by lying on the stomach with your palms resting beneath the shoulders. Press your palms into the mat and lift your head, then the chest and lower ribs. To increase the intensity, you may draw your shoulder blades down the back and rest your tail bone close to the floor. Remain in the pose for 5-10 breaths and then peel your chest away from the floor, before releasing.
The Fish Pose, or Matsyasana, is a powerful backbend that adds an element of stretch to the shoulders and neck. To come into Fish, lie on your back with your arms and elbows flat on the floor by your sides. Lift your chest and press your forearms into the mat, then draw your shoulder blades down the back. If it feels comfortable, you can press your hands into the floor and use your elbows to leverage your head further into the backbend.