NeckStretches

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Neck stretching exercises are useful for warming up your neck and relaxing your neck, head and face. You may also find that neck stretches can relieve mental tension or stress that you may be experiencing.

You can perform neck stretches in a seated pose, such as Easy Pose or Lotus Pose. You can also perform neck stretches in a standing pose, such as Mountain Pose, or while sitting in a chair.

As you perform neck stretches, you should focus on sending your breath to the muscles in your neck that you want to relax. By focusing on your breath while stretching your neck, you can also help improve your awareness of your breathing as you practice yoga.

You should never feel any strain when stretching your neck. Make sure you only move your head to a position where you feel a comfortable stretch. You should also keep your jaw and shoulders relaxed throughout the exercise.

Use caution performing neck stretches if you have problems with your neck.

Begin in Easy Pose. For information on Easy Pose, see page 74.

Exhale and lower your chin toward your chest.

• Visualize the space you are creating in the back of your neck.

Inhale and raise your chin toward the ceiling.

• Visualize the front of your neck and throat gently stretching and opening.

• Make sure you keep the back of your neck long and do not allow your head to drop back.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 three to five times and then return your head to the center.

How can I provide a good stretch to the side of my neck?

With your chin parallel to the floor and the crown of your head pointing toward the ceiling, exhale and turn your head to look over your right shoulder. Then inhale and turn your head to look straight ahead. Repeat by looking over your left shoulder. Repeat three to five times on each side.

How can I release tension in my head and neck?

You can perform head rotations. Lower your chin to your chest and circle your head around to your right shoulder. Lift your head up, lower your head to your left shoulder and circle your head back down to your chest. Keep the back of your neck long as you rotate your head in a smooth, continuous movement. Repeat the head rotations two to three times and then switch directions.

EXERCISE 2

Begin in Easy Pose.

Exhale and lower your right ear toward your right shoulder.

• Make sure you keep your jaw and shoulders relaxed.

Inhale and return your head to an upright position.

Exhale and lower your left ear toward your left shoulder.

Inhale and return your head to an upright position.

Repeat steps to 5 three to five times.

Shoulder stretching exercises are useful for relieving tightness in your upper back, shoulders and neck. You may also find that shoulder stretches can relieve stress and help clear your mind. Regular practice of shoulder stretches can increase the range of motion in your shoulders.

You can perform shoulder stretches in a seated pose, such as Easy Pose. You can also perform shoulder stretches in a standing pose, such as Mountain Pose, or while sitting in a chair.

As you perform the first exercise shown in the steps below, make sure you do not lift your shoulders. The stretch should only be a back and forward movement. The second exercise requires that you focus on the opposite movement. As you shrug your shoulders up and down, try not to move your shoulders forward or back. For both exercises, allow your arms to follow the movement of your shoulders, rather than participating in the stretch.

You should be careful performing shoulders stretches if you have a shoulder injury.

Begin in Easy Pose. For information on Easy Pose, see page 74.

Inhale and squeeze your shoulders back, bringing your shoulder blades toward each other.

• Visualize your chest opening and expanding.

Exhale and bring your shoulders forward, creating space between your shoulder blades.

• Allow your arms to follow the movement of your shoulders.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 three to five times.

Is there an exercise that is particularly helpful for increasing the range of motion in my shoulders?

You can perform shoulder rolls. With your arms hanging loosely at your sides, make circles with your shoulders. Roll your shoulders backward three to five times. Then repeat rolling your shoulders forward. Make sure you maintain a fluid motion and keep your shoulders relaxed throughout the exercise.

How can I release tension in my upper back and neck?

You can perform a stretch that resembles giving yourself a hug. Bring your right arm across your chest and reach for your left shoulder blade. Then bring your left arm under your right arm and reach for your right shoulder blade. Tuck your chin toward your chest. With each exhalation, soften your shoulders, elbows and grip. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and then repeat, switching the position of your arms.

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Begin in Easy Pose.

Inhale and lift your shoulders straight up toward your ears.

• Try to keep your shoulders from moving forward or back as you lift your shoulders up.

Exhale and slowly lower your shoulders back down.

• Make sure you control the movement of your shoulders. Do not allow your shoulders to simply drop down.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 three to five times.

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