Why Do Yoga Therapy For Neck And Shoulders
Most of the time, we are not conscious of the alignment of our body when it comes to the way we sit, stand and do things. In an age when many of us are sitting in front of a computer for long periods with a hunched and rounded spine or craning our necks engrossed with our mobile phones, poor posture can cause tightness around the neck and shoulders. Besides poor sitting and standing postures, stress can cause the muscles around the neck to tense up. If the tension is not released, it can lead to chronic pain in the long run.
Yoga practice will help to correct your bodys alignment and ease unnecessary tension from your neck and shoulders. It also helps to reduce stress, reduce inflammation and increase movement in the neck and bring balance back to your body. Here are a few simple yoga poses you can practice to keep your neck and shoulders pain-free.
How To Stretch And Open The Chest
Hatha yoga poses are powerful tools to stretch and open the chest. However, we must be attentive to some simple details to ensure that these hatha yoga poses properly target the problem. One of the most common stretches for the upper chest, for example, is often performed incorrectly. In this stretch the hands are clasped behind the body, and the arms are drawn away from the back to stretch the fronts of the shoulders. But if you are not careful, the very muscles you are trying to stretch can cause the arms to become misaligned, further straining the shoulders.
To perform the stretch correctly, bend your elbows and interlace your fingers behind you, separating the palms of your hands. Keeping the elbows bent, lift and square your shoulders then draw your shoulders back, moving your elbows toward each other so that your upper arms are parallel. Flexible people will be tempted to straighten the arms and hyperextend the elbows, but this is a temptation to resist, since it reduces the effectiveness of the stretch. The proper action of squaring the shoulders, bending the elbows, and bringing the upper arms parallel will rotate the upper arms outward, opening the space between your upper chest and the fronts of your shoulder joints. Moreover, the arm bones will hug the shoulder joints, protecting your rotator cuff muscles.
Challenges In Your Yoga Practice
Tightness in the upper chest makes it difficultand sometimes even harmfulto perform basic asanas. Tense muscles draw the shoulders forward and rotate the upper arm bones inward, straining the shoulder joints in a number of common poses. For example, if you tend to hunch your shoulders while extending your arms to the sides in poses such as , the deepest part of the shoulder joint can be harmed where the misaligned bones pinch the rotator cuff muscles. Moreover, hunched shoulders cause the upper back to round and the shoulder blades to wing out to the sides, weakening the muscles of the upper back.
The tightness also shows up in poses in which the arms are extended overhead, such as and adho mukha shvanasana . The same tightness that causes shoulder problems in warrior II will make it difficult for you to fully extend your arms overhead or open your chest in these poses. In warrior I, your elbows may bend out to the sides as the upper arm bones rotate inward, again causing the bones of the shoulder joints to pinch the rotator cuff muscles deep in the shoulder sockets.
Tenderness in the muscles of your chest indicates that problems will persist until the muscles are relieved of their chronic tension through focused stretching.
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This pose helps to relieve tension in your neck, shoulders, and back.
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Yoga Poses For Strong Shoulders
by | Jun 28, 2022 | Latest Yoga Advice |
Its officially summer! That means swimsuits, tank tops, and sun dresseswhich means your shoulders are constantly on display. Theyre working hard as well. Healthy shoulders help you return a tennis serve, spike a volleyball, hoist your backpack, and lift your beach bags.
Overuse or poor form can cause tendonitis, bursitis, or tearscommon problems that can rise up in a yoga practice when we dont follow our oath about externally rotating our arms before flexion, writes Kristin Leal, author of MetaAnatomy: A Modern Yogis Practical Guide the the Physical and Energetic Anatomy of Your Amazing Body.
You need stable shoulders to support your body in yoga inversions such as Salamba Sarvangasana , Adho Mukha Vrksasana , and Pincha Mayurasana . But before you go there, spend some time practicing the poses that follow. They can help you develop the strength you need for those challenging asanasand for mobile shoulders and good posture throughout your day.
The Epidemic Of Neck Pain
The National Institutes of Health reports that non-specific neck pain affects about two-thirds of all people, usually around middle age. Although acute neck pain usually resolves within a couple weeks, neck pain becomes chronic in about 10 percent of sufferers.
Neck and shoulder pain often overlap, due to referred pain via the numerous nerve pathways connecting the neck and shoulders. The connective soft tissue between the neck and shoulders also tends to confuse the specific primary injury or source of pain. The most common cause of shoulder pain and neck pain is an injury to the soft tissues, including the muscles, tendons, and ligaments within these structures.
Spending hours in front of a computer or smartphone with poor postural alignment is another factor in the rise of neck and shoulder pain. As the spine slumps forward, the shoulder blades slide apart, both overstretching and weakening the surrounding muscles. Those weakened muscles are more likely to experience painful tightness along the shoulder blades and up into the neck.
Common treatments for both neck and shoulder pain include rest, ice and over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen. However, severe or worsening pain or numbness and weakness in the extremities require a doctors evaluation.
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Yoga Poses To Open The Front Body
Opening up the front body can help to improve posture and therefore ease neck and shoulder pain. Thats why a yoga practice for the upper back should always also include front-opening exercises.
To prepare the body and the mind for the practice ahead, start in an upright seat and press the hips back a little to create a slight concave curve in the lower back and straighten the spine. Place the hands on the thighs with the palms facing upwards. Press the chest right up and pull the elbows in towards the body. Lift the chin slightly and create space and a feeling of lightness in the chest to let the breath flow slowly and steadily.
Depending On Your Lifestyle There Could Be Many Reasons For A Stiff Neck And Shoulders
First, observe your unconscious daily habits. How you sit and lay down. Are you sitting too much? Hows your posture? How much do you slouch while using your phone or computer?
The same goes for reading at your desk. Observe yourself and begin to take note. Make adjustments to reduce strain and tension. Use the energy of the legs to move up into the pelvis and spinal column when sitting by using your legs to support the lift of your spine. Keep your pelvis level. What is happening in your shoulder girdle?
Look in the mirror and observe yourself for imbalances between the left and right sides, especially the space at the neck. Pay attention to those annoying signals you receive and tend to brush off until the pain has become intolerable.
Elongate, maintain a balance between your left and right side of your body, make space, and support yourself when needed to get thecorrect alignment.
If a building is leaning, its only a matter of time before a collapse happens. The same is true with our spinal column, the supporting vertebrae, and surrounding muscles. These imbalances can be improved upon, and in many cases reversed.
In this video, you will learn a few ways to practice different actions to prevent, as well as release the tension and imbalances required in order to promote a healthy shoulder and neck.
Of course, there are many more but this should get you started.
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Poses 1: Viparita Karani
Legs Up The Wall. Need I say more?
If you want to feel more confident and knowledgeable about your sequencing skills, check out my online course, The Art of Yoga Sequencing. Its great for yoga teachers and students who want to better understand how the body works and how to stretch and strengthen effectively.
Essential Postures For Neck And Shoulders
Not surprisingly, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that there is growing evidence to suggest that yoga works to enhance stress-coping mechanisms and mind-body awareness . The following postures can be particularly useful in helping prevent and relieve neck pain.
Mountain Pose. This pose teaches the basics of proper alignment. Stand with feet hip width apart, weight evenly distributed on both legs. Lengthen up through the top of your headas if it was magnetic and the sky above you held a powerful magnet. Relax your shoulders down away from your ears. Imagine there is a light at the center of your chest and shine it forward, not down. Stack your joints so that if someone looked at you from the side, theyd see your knees over your ankles, your hips over your knees, your shoulders over your hips, and your ears over your shoulders.
Shoulder Shrugs and Circles. These movements relax tension in the neck and shoulders. On an inhalation, shrug your shoulders up toward your ears, then exhale and drop them down. If you like, make a ha sound on the exhalation. Make slow, easy circles with your shoulders, being sure to go in both directions. Then bicycle the shoulders, one circling clockwise while the other circles counterclockwise. Move slowly and mindfullydo not rush!
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Hand Clasp Behind Back
Another beginner pose, this is extremely good for people with tight shoulders or any kind of pain in the shoulder blades. Simply put, you stand upright and interlock your hands behind your back, then straighten your arms as far as you can while gripping tight. For an extra stretch to your neck while doing this, tuck your chin into your chest as hard as you can.
You can adjust this pose depending on the severity of the tension on your shoulders by simply gripping harder or softer.
Yoga For Neck And Shoulder Pain
In our high-stress, hurried worldfilled with financial pressures, information overload, terror alerts and sleeplessnessmany people feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. Add to this emotional tension the physical stress of sedentary lifestyles with long hours spent hunched over computers and, all too often, the result is a serious pain in the neck.
Whats more, the problem doesnt stop there. Chronic neck pain is linked to a host of related disorders, including headache, jaw soreness, and pain radiating into the shoulders, upper back and arms. In addition, the slumped posture that can lead to neck pain may also compress internal organs, contributing to digestive, circulatory and respiratory problems.
As a mind-body practice, yoga offers powerful tools to help relieve and prevent neck pain. Physically, yoga postures help stretch tight muscles, strengthen weak ones and teach proper alignment, which relieves strain on the neck and shoulders. Psychologically, yoga is a potent stress reliever that also encourages awarenessa process that sheds light on habitual stress patterns and emotional reactions and can help us move with diligence and compassion in the direction of health. Energetically, yoga breathing enhances vital energy and recharges the entire system.
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Yoga Helps To Relieve Neck Pain
Yoga poses are ideal physical exercises that can help you maintain the right position of your head, which puts the least amount of weight on your neck and so avoid neck pain. Moreover, yoga poses give a gentle stretch to the muscles surrounding the neck to release the tension causing pain.
Different types of neck pain with their symptoms are described in this section. It will come in handy to diagnose the root cause of your aching neck and the ways how yoga helps in getting rid of it.
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Arm Across Chest Pose
Sit comfortably on the floor or on a chair with your spine straight, neck elongated, and shoulders in a relaxed position.
Reach the right arm out at shoulder height and bring it across the chest toward the left side of your body. Turn your gaze to look over your right shoulder.
This pose will stretch the neck and back of the shoulders. Hold for approximately 8-10 breaths then switch sides.
Uttana Shishosana With A Chair
- Set up a chair with a folded blanket or pillow for padding. Face the chair, standing approximately two feet away.
- Fold forward, hinging at your hips, and bring your forehead to the seat of the chair. Let your neck relax.Reach forward toward the back of the chair. Drape your wrists over the back of the chair if it is low enough or grasp the back, sides, or seat of the chair. Keep your arms active. Gently press your sternum toward the floor.
- Reach your hips back to lengthen your spine. Feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Your legs can be straight or slightly bent. Breathe.
- To exit, move your hands to grasp the seat of the chair and support yourself to return to standing.
This pose can be done on hands and knees, with your head on the floor or on a block. For more stretch, place blocks under your upper arms and bend your elbows so that your arms reach toward the ceiling.
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Locust Pose Or Salabhasana
- Lie on the ground on your abdomen and place your hands by your side.
- You inhale, lift your upper torso and legs.
- Lift leg upward using inner thighs without bending knees.
- Rest on abdomen and lower ribs
- Hold pose for 30 seconds and release
Benefits: Acid-base balance loses weight, reduces stress, strengthened and toned back. It is an ideal yoga for neck pain relief.
Avoid: People suffering from migraine, spinal injury or neck and pregnant women
What Causes A Tight Neck And Shoulder Condition
These problems are caused when the muscles in your neck and shoulder have been overused, overstretched, or strained for long periods. Conversely, they also occur when you dont exercise or stretch these muscles for long periods by doing yoga for tense neck and shoulders or other exercises. Here are some reasons why we experience tight neck and shoulders:One of the most common reasons is the sheer amount of time that we all are spending indoors in front of our computers in improper posture. Prolonged periods of stress that release cortisol and epinephrine hormones result in tightening of the muscles. This in turn leads to tension in the neck and shoulders.Turning your neck or the head repeatedly causes stiffness and pain. This is more common in swimmers.Injuries due to accidents or while playing impact sports.Poor sleeping positions like sleeping on the stomach or using a high pillow.Poor posture i.e. slouching or hunching while working or driving and constantly looking down at the cell phone causes the neck and shoulders to bend.Conditions like arthritis or cervical spondylitis cause tightness in the neck and shoulder, especially when a person stays in the same position for a long time.Meningitis, which causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord coverings, is also a reason for tightness in the neck and shoulders. Carrying heavy bags or purses for prolonged periods.
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