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 Yoga neck exercises to improve neck and shoulder stiffness

Disclaimer
Anyone who practices the exercises below should do so under the advice of their doctor. And shall not hold the author responsible for any injury caused to them by attempting to follow these directions.

Caution
Anyone with a weak neck or injuries to their neck should be very cautious and when in doubt, please consult with your doctor before carrying out any of these exercises.

If you suffer from stiffness in your neck, shoulders or upper back, then the yoga exercises below may be a good way to remove your stiffness.

Sometimes this stiffness and tension comes about from spending too much time working at a computer, or in a work environment where one is bending over, or in some way building up tension.

The whole idea to to bring in looseness to the area of the neck and upper back, and also to increase your sensitivity to feeling and becoming aware of how these areas feel throughout the day. So you should ideally practice these movements 2 to 4 times each day. That will prevent the tension from building up.

 

Gentle yoga exercises for the neck and shoulders can help;

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 "How" you do these exercises is important

Gentle yoga neck exercises

These yoga exercises should be practiced

  • slowly
  • with awareness
  • ideally synchronized with the breath
  • gently
  • sensitively focusing inwards trying to detect what you can feel
  • a couple of times a day if one wants to remove pain
  • even after the pain goes

They should not be practiced to music, or absent-minded, or with an attitude of ‘i have done these 100 times, nothing new…. and now do it as a habit’.

They should always be practiced with heightened awareness.

As well as bringing looseness to the area, one is also working with one’s awareness… trying to detect what is happening inside as one does each movement…. which muscles are stretching, does the left side of the body feel differently to the right side, today at this moment how does this area feel?

 Best way to learn "How" is with a gifted teacher

Woman holds yoga mat

Although these exercises to relieve tension and stiffness in the neck are quite simple, the best way to learn them is with a gifted experienced teacher.

And not to focus simply on one’s neck, but to include practices for one’s whole being… including benefits on physical, mental and more subtle inner energy levels.

If you are interested, Burren Yoga Retreats have a team of 16 of the most experienced yoga and meditation teachers to help you not only learn these practices, but also to inspire and give you the confidence to keep these up on a daily basis after you complete the yoga retreat.

These retreats are suitable for complete beginners, of all ages, and run all year round.

 Shoulder Rotations

First one, standing, arms hanging down alongside body relaxed, no tension in arms, and move both shoulders in rotations, inhaling move shoulders up and back, exhale as they move down and then start to move forwards.

Very slow, relaxed, but large circles. Awareness on whats happening inside, awareness sometimes exploring whats happening to the shoulder blades, sometimes upper arm muscles, sometimes neck, sometimes upper back.

Explore the sensations with your awareness.

About 10 rotations 1 direction, then 10 the other.

Vinyasa yoga retreat

 Moving shoulders forwards and back

Stand again straight, relaxed, arms down. Try not to bring tension into any part of body but move shoulders forward as if they were moving in front of your chest and coming towards each other as you exhale, then inhale broaden shoulders and bring back behind you again if moving together, opening in the chest, inhaling.

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 It is not rocket science. Be creative but gentle

These movements are not exact. Be creative. You are increasing loosening, and awareness.  But try to do the movements gently and bring your awareness to the parts of the body that you are moving.

 Swimming front crawl

As if you are swimming front crawl, but standing arms down, only move shoulders in a figure of 8.   Similar to first movement above, but when one shoulder is forward and up, the other is back and down.

Yoga boot camp retreat

 GRadually bow head forwards and back up

Caution for anyone with whip lash or neck injury

Anyone with whip lash or neck injuries, do NOT do this practice.

These postures must be done very slowly and gently and ideally in time with a slow deep breath through the nose.

Any pain, stop the practice immediately.

Standing, allowing head to move forward and hang down, and then gradually let weight of head start to guide the upper back to bend forward more…. middle and lower back still up straight but not tense, exhaling as you move forward.

Then as you inhale, start to straighten up upper back and finally lift head up, and then as exhale start to allow head move back, gently hanging back and allow upper back to arch backward

 Neck movement tilt head side to side

Standing straight, only move head and neck.

First tilt head to the side while exhaling.  Right ear comes in the direction of the right shoulder, allow weight of head to draw it down for a few seconds while holding breath out… feeling stretch to opposite side of neck.

Inhaling bring head back up to centre and lengthen in the neck while in centre position, and then exhaling while tilt head down to opposite side…left ear comes in the direction of the left shoulder.

Yoga boot camp retreat

 Neck movement, looking to side over shoulder

Inhale while looking directly ahead and lengthen in the neck…crown of the head being drawn upwards.

While exhaling look over your right shoulder as if you are looking behind you.

Inhaling back to centre, lengthening upwards in the centre, and then exhaling looking over left shoulder.

 

 Neck movement tilt head side to side

Next move; as above but forward, chin comes down in direction of chest as exhale, inhale back up to centre, and then exhale as very gently and slowly and sensitively allow had to move back, opening up in the chest at the same time.

 

Yoga boot camp retreat

 Benefits of yoga and meditation

The benefits of yoga and meditation are on many levels; physical, mental, and more subtle inner energy flows.
 
They include
  • letting go of thoughts
  • more peaceful feelings of well being
  • improved heath and fitness
  • improved sleep
  • learning techniques to help you relax
 
 
 
A fuller description can be seen at Benefits of Yoga
 

Neckmovement;rotations

These postures must be done very slowly and gently and ideally in time with a slow deep breath through the nose.

Rotations of head, right ear towards right shoulder, then allowing head move forward chin coming towards chest, then rising up left ear towards left should and up to centre; 3 times one direction, 3 times other… all done very slowly and sensitively.

Justbecausethesemovementsaresimple,doesnotmeantheyarenoteffective

They all sound so simple, that you may discount them. But if you try them for 3 weeks, 3 times per day, (for example, morning, midday, evening) i guarantee you that your neck will feel loose and without pain like before this tightness started for you.

Awarenessimprovesastimegoeson

You will become more aware of tension as you sit at work, so will begin to compensate how you are sitting or how you are leaning over.

If you do strenuous sports which may be adding to the tightness or tension, such as rock climbing, you bring that heightened awareness to your sport.

So if you are climbing you will begin to relax those muscles that you are not using, and between climbing maneuvers, you will relax and conserve your energy.

Recommendationfromonepersonwhohasbenefitedfromtheabovemovements

i think the key is just to keep doing them regularly, even if there’s no pain.

Andthesecretis

the real secret is to keep up the daily practice …. and to try not to do it automatically or absent mindedly… but still do it each day with a sense of freshness and interest to see how it is feeling today… and what new things if any you can notice or become aware of today.

And then the awareness will grow and grow, so that at any time during the day when you put any tension into that area, you will become aware of it as you do the posture or movement that causes the tension…. and then be able to let it go before it builds up.

We have CD’s of our yoga classes, meditation instruction and also Yoga Nidra relaxation which you can purchase either before you come, or while you are here top help you continue your practice at home

The gentle yoga CD contains the instructions for the neck exercises.

 

AwardwinningBurrenYogaRetreats

We have been awarded the “Tripadvisor award of excellence” 5 years in a row, and you can read independent traveller reviews at

Tripadvisor reviews on Burren Yoga Retreats

 

 

Whattypeofyogaisbestforme?

There are many different types of yoga available, and they range from very gentle and relaxing yoga, to quite strong and dynamic yoga with a whole range within.  Some fopcus on health, others on relaxation, others on peace of mind, others on fitness.

There is more information at What type of yoga is best for me?

We have a team of the best yoga and meditation teachers at the Burren Yoga and Meditation Centre, and our retreats are presented in a list of most gentle first at Who our retreats are suitable for

 Neck movement tilt head side to side

Next move; as above but forward, chin comes down in direction of chest as exhale, inhale back up to centre, and then exhale as very gently and slowly and sensitively allow had to move back, opening up in the chest at the same time.

 

 Burren Yoga Retreats benefit your whole being and not just your neck

The location of The Burren is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places on the West coast of Ireland beside the Wild Atlantic Way.

 

 

 

These retreats are a lovely combination of

  • the best yoga and meditation instruction suitable for complete beginners
  • comfortable accommodation at the award winning Burren Yoga Centre
  • amazing vegetarian food by Paddi our famous chef
  • guided outings by an experienced guide into the Burren hills and by the sea
 

The atmosphere is very friendly and relaxed, and we only take 15 people on each of our retreats.

Spending time in this atmosphere is simply so relaxing in itself.

Combine this with the best yoga and meditation teachers who will teach you techniques to let go of thoughts, tune into

your breathing and teach you to do practices that will bring you back in touch with your body… and into the present moment… rather than being caught up in thoughts and stress.

A very big part is also the techniques that you will learn on our yoga retreat that you will bring back home with you.  The key to getting the best benefits is to keep up a 10 to 15 minute daily practice after you get home.

We have CD’s of our yoga classes, meditation instruction and also Yoga Nidra relaxation which you can purchase either before you come, or while you are here top help you continue your practice at home

The gentle yoga CD contains the instructions for the neck exercises.

Unplug. Let go of the external world. Experience the Silence

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