Take a break from all of your tasks and let’s check-in for yourself! Today, we are focusing on one of the most overused muscle groups, the neck and shoulders, with step-by-step instructions to welcome a sweet sense of release to your tensed regions. This therapeutic sequence is a perfect counteractive practice for your neck tension, shoulder pain and poor posture. Practice these moves regularly for the ultimate preventative care for your neck and shoulders!

 

Before We Begin, Let’s See if You Have the Proper Posture!

We will begin with the standing posture followed by our sitting posture. You can also do a quick self-check at home to see if your posture is proper!

 

1) What is the Proper Standing Posture?

Image from Shutterstock

For some of us, the proper posture doesn’t always feel correct as we are used to slouching for years.

So what’s the right standing posture? When you are standing, your head should be in a neutral position (not leaning forward) and the ears should line up with the middle of your shoulder.

Make sure to keep both your upper and lower back straight. Slight curves in the small of your back (the lower part of the back that is smaller and narrower than the rest) and at your shoulder blades are normal. Keep your hips in good alignment with your shoulders and with your knees. Look down at your knees and check that they line up with the middle of your ankle.

If you have trouble assessing your own standing posture, take a look in a full-length mirror or have someone take a picture for you to compare it to!

 

2) What is the Proper Sitting Posture?

Image from Shutterstock

Most of us spend up to 10 hours a day sitting down. Be it whether we are working at our desk, driving, having a meal and watching TV on the couch, we spend a lot of our time sitting. Besides standing up and taking breaks from our desks, what we can do is to be more aware of our sitting posture and trying to correct it.

One of the most important things to note when working at your desk is that your computer is at the right height for your eyes to look ahead. Your necks should not be flexed or tilted to be able to see your work

When you are seated make sure that your ears line up with your shoulders. This means that there should not be any leaning forward. Make sure your shoulders are pulled back and seated in the middle of the sockets. Avoid crossing your legs, tucking them or stretching them in front of you. Both feet should rest flat on the floor so that your weight can be evenly spread out between both the hips and feet.

 

3) Before We Begin, Let’s Take a Posture Test!

Image from deskstand.com

This posture test can be done at home without any equipment. Get an extra pair of hands to help you with the measurement.

1) Start by standing against the wall. Make sure the back of your head touches the wall and place your heels 6 inches away from the wall.

2) Your buttocks and both shoulder blades should be touching the wall. Measure the space between your neck and the wall. Also, measure the distance between the wall and the small of your back.

3) If your posture is good, these measurements should be less than 2 inches. If they are is greater than 2 inches, you likely have poor posture.

 

So Let’s Get Started with the Practice!

Find a chair, stool or something of some height to sit on so you keep your spine straight and erect and feeling more comfortable when practising.

 

Shoulder Shrugs

  1. Lift the shoulder up and brings the shoulders down.
  2. Practice this 4 – 5 times

 

Shoulder Rotations

  1. Begin by lifting the shoulders.
  2. Start rotating the shoulders, rolling your shoulders.
  3. Practice this 4-5 times clockwise and repeat this action counterclockwise.

 

Elbow Circles

  1. Bring both of your hands to the shoulders and bring your elbow close.
  2. Start to draw big circles with your elbow.
  3. Practice this 4-5 times clockwise and repeat this action counterclockwise.

 

Lateral Hand Raise

  1. Inhale and begin to lift your hands above your head and bring the palms together.
  2. Exhale and bring your hands down to the side.
  3. Repeat this action for 4 – 5 times.

 

Front Hand Raise

  1. Bring your hands to the front.
  2. As you inhale, begin to raise your hands up. Try and bring your hands to the back as far as you can.
  3. While you exhale, bring your hands down and see how far you can bring them back.
  4. Ensure that your spine is straight throughout this process.
  5. Repeat this action for 4 – 5 times.

 

Arm Crossing

  1. Begin by bending your elbows. Make sure that your elbows are in line with your shoulders and your palms are facing down.
  2. Next, cross your right hand above your left hand and then stretch your hands back.
  3. Cross your left hand above your right hand and then stretch your hands back.
  4. This counts as 1 round.
  5. Repeat this 4 -5 times gently and carefully.

 

Eagle Pose

  1. Bring both hands forward with your elbows in line with the shoulders.
  2. Hook the right elbow on top of the left elbow.
  3. When you feel comfortable, you can wrap your hands around each other.
  4. Make sure that your shoulders are down when you lift your elbows up. Keep in mind that the left elbow should be in line with your chin and move your palms away from your face.
  5. Keep the neck straight and gaze between your forearms. Make sure your shoulders are in line with each other.
  6. Maintain this pose for 30 – 45 seconds and repeat this with the other hand.

 

Frog Pose

  1. Lift both hands, and place left palm on the right shoulder and the right palm on the left shoulder.
  2. Make sure you lift your arms such that your elbow, armpit and ribs are in 180 degrees.
  3. Maintain this pose for 30 – 45 seconds.
  4. If you feel slight tension after release from this pose, roll your shoulders clockwise and counterclockwise.

 

Upward Bound Fingers Facing Pose

  1. Interlock your fingers and turn the palms out.
  2. Once you interlock fingers, keep your elbow straight and slowly lift your arms up and move them back as far as possible.
  3. Keep your arms straight in this pose.
  4. Maintain this pose for 30 – 45 seconds.

 

Cow Face Pose

  1. Lift your right hand up and bend your right elbow.
  2. When you bend the right elbow see that the elbow is facing upwards and inwards.
  3. Maintain the right elbow above the crown of your head and move your left hand back.
  4. Make sure your left shoulder does not collapse, it should be open to the back.
  5. Hold this pose for 30 – 45 seconds, repeat this on the other side.

 

Downward Facing Dog

  1. Place your palms onto the chair and hold on to it.
  2. Lift your sitting bones up and to the back and keep the leg straight.
  3. If you are unable to keep the legs straight, get a higher chair and practice the half downward-facing dog repeating step 1 – 2.
  4. Make sure that your elbow, shoulder, ribs are in 1 straight line.
  5. Hold this pose for 30 – 45 seconds.

 

Child Pose

  1. Begin in the kneeling pose and place your hands on the chair.
  2. Extend both your arms and bring your forehead down.
  3. Hold this pose for 30 – 45 seconds.

 

Neck Stretch (Side)

  1. Lift your right hand up and wrap your right hand around the scalp. Your right palm should be reaching for the left ear.
  2. Push your left shoulder down and stretch the left side of the neck.
  3. Hold this pose for 15- 20 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

 

Neck Stretch (Front & Back)

  1. Interlock your fingers (make sure your thumbs are not interlocked) and keep your fingers behind the neck.
  2. Proceed to lift your chin up, with the fingers interlocked behind your back it ensures that your neck won’t bend too much.
  3. Gently pressing your neck vertebrae towards your throat and lift your chin.
  4. Hold this pose for 15- 20 seconds.
  5. Continue to interlock your fingers and gently bring your chin close to your chest. Do not press your neck down in this posture, the weight of your hands is more than enough to stretch your neck without using extra pressure.
  6. Do this for 10 seconds, make sure you do not hold this pose for more than the recommended timing.

 

Neck Stretch (Diagonal)

  1. Turn your neck diagonally towards the right side at a 45-degree angle. Once you turn your head, bring your right hand up and hold the head.
  2. Proceed to stretch the left side of the neck.
  3. Repeat the same practice on the left side and stretch the right side of the neck.
  4. Hold this pose for 15 – 20 seconds.

 

Neck Stretch (Twist)

  1. Turn your face to the left side as much as you can. Make sure that your shoulders are not turning with you too.
  2. Move your head back to the centre.
  3. Proceed to turn your face to the right side.
  4. Hold each side for 10 seconds.

 

Neck Rotation

  1. Bring your chin to the chest. Rotating the neck with the chin as the driver, imagine that you are drawing the biggest circle possible.
  2. Inhale and bring your chin to the right shoulder and lift it up towards the ceiling.
  3. Exhale and bring the chin towards the left shoulder and bring your chin to the chest.
  4. Rotate clockwise twice and counterclockwise twice.
  5. Do not repeat this for more than the recommended number of times

 

How to lie down and relax your lower back?

The lower back comes to play here because no matter how much you try to work your neck and shoulders if your lower back is feeling uncomfortable you will still feel the pain upwards.

  1. Place the calves muscles flat on the chair.
  2. Observe that there is an arch in your lower back. We do not what this arch in our lower back, so we roll the pelvis and relax.
  3. Get a blanket and rest your head on top of it. Make sure that the blanket is folded such that when you lie down on it your forehead is a little higher than your chin. This can help quieten the mind and brain activities. For those who have a broader upper back, you may have to adjust your blanket accordingly.
  4. Keep hands on the side of your body.
  5. Roll your shoulder out and make sure the outer corners of your shoulder touch the mat.
  6. To release yourself from the pose, turn to one side and slowly sit up. Do not come up without supporting yourself.

 

1. Have any questions regarding the Neck & Shoulders practice? 

2. Want more modifications for poses?

3. Any other practice you would like us to breakdown?

4. Want more video like this?

Let us know in the comment section down below!

 

Confused by the instructions? Check out the video here as Mahendra demonstrates the therapeutic sequence for your Neck & Shoulder Care!

 

 

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