Stretches to Ease Neck and Shoulder Pain

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Yoga has always been a chosen way to stretch out tired achy muscles, usually after prolonged use or over use. Physiotherapists often recommend stretching programs when suffering from muscles soreness, and yoga is a perfect way to get your muscles feeling loose and relaxed while also maintaining a great mindset balance. 

A pain in the neck and upper back or shoulders is often a result of strain in the muscles around that region due to excessive usage of phones and laptops for work and/or recreation. Just like our eyes which are in constant use throughout the day, our neck and shoulder muscles also share the same fate.

When you overuse a certain muscle or set of muscles and underuse another set of muscles, it results in muscles imbalance, discomfort and pain. Sometimes it also alters the basic alignment of the body. When this happens over a prolonged period, it can become a problem.

Learning how to release those muscles from time to time is crucial to maintain the health of the body. In the current scenario, the usage of laptops for work and leisure has become almost constant. So learning how to manage the pain can help alleviate it.

Here are some easy solutions to ease your neck and shoulder pain. But before you get started with these, it’s important to remember that consistency is key. If you practice them regularly, it will benefit you. Sporadic practice won’t help.

Tadasana against wall:

The word ‘tada’ means a mountain in Sanskrit. In tadasana, the practitioner must try to stand as tall and firm as a mountain. This is the first and the most basic asana.

- Stand straight by joining your feet and toes together against a wall.
- Keep the weight of the body evenly on the soles of the feet. Arms stretched out by the sides of the body with the palms resting on the wall, fingers facing downward.
- Keep the stomach in, chest out and rest the back of the head against the wall.
- Hold this pose for 20-30 seconds and then repeat.
This asana helps to correct any irregularity in our posture.


Tadasana with Baddhaungliasana:

In Sanskrit, ‘baddha’ means caught and ‘ungli’ refers to fingers. In this asana, one stands firm as in tadasana keeping the fingers interlaced behind the back.

- Stand straight with your feet and toes together.
- Keep the weight of the body evenly on the soles of the feet.
- Interlace your fingers behind the back and raise the arms up slightly, away from the body.
- As you raise the arms up, keep the chest lifted and head and neck straight.
- Hold for 10-15 seconds and release. Repeat another time with changed interlock of fingers.

- Helps to improve posture.
- Helps to release neck and shoulder/upper back pain.


Urdhva baddhaungliasana in Tadasana:

In Sanskrit, ‘urdhva’ means upward and ‘baddhaungli’ means interlaced fingers. Thus, in this asana, one has to raise the arms overhead with fingers interlocked.

- Stand straight with your feet and toes together.
- Keep the weight of the body evenly on the soles of the feet. Slow
- Interlace the fingers and slowly raise the arms up in line with the ears.
- As you raise the arms up, keep the shoulders down with the head and neck straight.
- Stretches shoulders, arms, wrist and fingers.
- Strengthens the knee joints.
Gomukhasana :
In Sanskrit, the word ‘gomukh’ refers to the mouth of a cow.

- Sit in simple cross legs or any comfortable sitting position of your choice.
- Raise the right arm up overhead in line with the right shoulder. Once there, bend the arm at the elbow such that the right palm rests on the upper back.
- Rotate the left arm in a circular fashion and rest it on the back such that the left palm slips under the right palm and clasps it.
- Hold this clasp of the palms firmly for as many seconds as you can keeping the head and neck straight.
- Once done, repeat on the other side.
- Activates the muscles of the shoulders and back. 
- Helps to relieve arthritis in the fingers, elbows and wrist.  

In Sanskrit, the word ‘garuda’ refers to an Eagle.

- Sit in simple cross legs or any comfortable sitting position of your choice.
- Raise both the arms up such that the wrist and elbow are at an angle of 90 degrees and elbows in line with the shoulders.
- Intertwine the right arm under the left arm such that the left tricep muscle rests/sits on the bicep of the right arm. Once there, join the palms in Namaste.
- Hold this arm position for about 10-15 seconds before releasing.
- Keep the head and neck straight throughout.
- Stretches the upper back and shoulders.


Ardha Uttanasana:

Ardha means half and ‘uttan’ means intense stretch. In this asana, the practitioner bends their spine half way to stretch the back and leg muscles.

- Stand close to the wall with the palms resting at waist-level on the wall.
- Keeping the palms against the wall, step back to allow the body to be perpendicular to the floor.
- The spine must be parallel to the floor and arms and legs straight.
- Keep the ears in line with the inner upper arms and head down, eyes looking down at the floor.    
- Strengthens and stretches the spinal muscles.
- Develops and improves flexibility in the hip and legs.


Savasana is the corpse pose or dead man’s pose. It helps relax and rejuvenate the body and mind.

- Lie down flat on your back with the legs stretched out and feet a little apart.
- Keep the arms by the side of the body with the palms turned up.
- Keep a small roll of blanket/napkin under the neck and close the eyes. Rest and relax for a few minutes.
- Provides complete relaxation to the body and mind.
- Supports the neck muscles thereby giving some relief.


Add these stretches to your regular yoga routine or do them during your breaks throughout the day. The key is not to wait until a scheduled class all the time to stretch. Do these throughout the day to get the most benefit.

Good luck!

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