Yin Yoga for Neck and Shoulders

Yin Yoga for Neck and Shoulders

Know more about neck and shoulder health in today’s world, Yin yoga for the shoulders, Yin yoga for the neck, and things to keep in mind when you take up a Yin Yoga practice for neck and shoulders

Introduction

Digitalisation and advances in technology have made our lives easy. However, it has led to an always-on, technology-led lifestyle that has resulted in stress and exhaustion. Even as digital gadgets reduce physical labour they increase physical ailments. As our jobs get done with minimal physical effort, we slip into a sedentary lifestyle. This brings with it a host of diseases that were not prevalent just a decade ago. Our grandparents or parents were not prone to the ailments that affect our lives today, due to their more physically active lifestyle. One way to counter the present-day sedentary habits is to practice Yin yoga stretches.

Neck and Shoulder Health in Today’s World

As we become addicted to social media and find it difficult to extricate ourselves from our laptops, mobile phones, and other digital gadgets, we are seeing all kinds of new ailments and hearing terms like “gizmo addiction”, “smartphone neck” and “texter’s thumb”. We are seeing more cases of headaches, back and eye strain, neck and shoulder pain, and other disorders as a result of hunching over our laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.

“Smartphone neck” or “text neck” is a neck disorder arising from bending over the phone for long periods of time. When the neck and spine are in normal alignment, it has a smooth ‘S’ shape. Hunching over the phone leads to strain on the spine and neck leading to headaches, radiating pain, and muscular weakness. If not checked in time it can lead to permanent damage to the neck and shoulder muscles. The practice of Yin yoga for neck and shoulders can help to reduce pain and improve flexibility. 

Takeaway

The so-called sedentary lifestyle diseases have become more prevalent these days. Yin yoga has many simple poses that can help you cope and manage the stress and discomfort brought on by modern life.

Yin Yoga for Shoulders

Doing Yin yoga for shoulders and neck help to open up shoulders, improve your range of motion and combat the tightness brought on by sitting hunched-back to pore over digital gadgets. Given below are some stretches that can help with shoulder issues.

Thread the Needle Pose

  1. Go down on your hands and knees.
  2. Your wrists should be directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  3. Your knees and shins should be hip-width apart.
  4. Keep your head centered in a neutral position.
  5. Raise your right arm towards the ceiling. Let your eyes follow your arm.
  6. Slide your right arm below your left arm with the palm facing up.
  7. Bring your right shoulder gently down and rest your head on the mat and gaze to the left.
  8. Keep your left elbow and hips raised.
  9. Do not press your head to the floor and do not strain your neck or shoulder.
  10. Allow the tension in your arms, shoulders, and neck to drain out.
  11. Hold the pose for 1-3 minutes while breathing normally.
  12. To release the pose, raise your head, gently slide your right arm out and come back to your original position on all fours.
  13. Repeat on the other side for the same duration.
  14. Take care to move in and out of the pose slowly.
  15. Let your gaze remain softly focused.

Benefits

Thread the Needle pose stretches the neck, upper back, chest, and shoulders to open them up and release stress. The twisting motion also serves to gently stretch and loosen the muscles in the lower back.

Caution

Avoid the pose if you have had recent injuries to your neck, shoulders, back, or knee, or if you have degenerative disk diseases.

Camel Pose (Easy Version)

  1. Sit on your heels.
  2. Place your hands behind you on the floor, palms facing the floor and forward.
  3. Supporting yourself on your hands, gently raise your hips forward.
  4. Your back will arch as your hips move forward.
  5. Drop your head back.
  6. If you have neck problems, keep your head raised and do not drop it back.
  7. Maintain the pose for 1-3 minutes and become aware of the stretch along the whole upper body.
  8. Breathe normally.
  9. To come out of the pose, bring your hips down, gently slide your hands forward and return to sitting on your heels again.

Benefits

The Camel pose opens up the shoulders and chest and stretches the front of the body along with the hip flexors and thighs. It is a remedy for hunched backs and drooping shoulders.

Contraindications

Those with weak backs, spinal injury, and the elderly should seek medical advice before attempting this pose — as well as patients with heart disease and high blood pressure. People with neck problems should not drop their heads back.

Eagle Arm Pose

  1. Sit in an easy seated position.
  2. Raise your elbows parallel to the ground in front of you.
  3. Bring the right elbow below the left and wrap your arms together as tightly as you can.
  4. Try to bring your palms together, facing each other.
  5. Hold for 1-3 minutes while breathing normally.
  6. Feel the stretch along your arms and shoulders.
  7. Gently release and slide your arms out.
  8. Repeat with the left elbow below the right for the same duration.

Benefits

The wrists, forearms, and shoulders get a great stretch with this pose. The muscles connected to the shoulder blades also expand when performing this pose.

Caution

People with existing neck or shoulder injuries should avoid this pose.

Yin Yoga for Neck


Your neck and shoulders carry a lot of stress because many of you spend significant amounts of time typing on the keyboard and working with your hands. The practice of Yin yoga for the neck and shoulders can lengthen shortened ligaments in the neck, loosen tight necks and enhance your range of motion.    

Sphinx Pose

  1. Lie down flat on your stomach.
  2. Place your palms flat on the ground with your arms folded and elbows under your shoulders.
  3. Tighten your buttocks, thighs, and lower back, and use their support to lift your upper body and head.
  4. Look straight ahead and try to lengthen your spine while stretching your neck back.
  5. Breathe normally and hold for 1-3 minutes.
  6. To come out of the pose, gently release your hands and lower your head to the ground.
  7.  Rest with your hands on either side before attempting a second round.


Benefits

Provides deep compression and stimulation to the lumbosacral arch and tones the spine. Releases stress in the neck and stimulate the thyroid.

Caution

People with a bad back, tight sacrum, or neck injuries should avoid the pose.

Backward Extension

  1. Sit up straight and tall in a Yin yoga seating position.
  2. Lengthen your neck so that you have more space to drop the head back.
  3. Gently drop your head back and let it hang for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Breathe normally and soak in the sensations and compression in the neck.
  5. Remember to focus on the neck instead of the head.
  6. To come out of the pose, gently bring your head back to the neutral position.
  7. Rest for a while and repeat.

Benefits

This pose helps open up the neck and throat. It massages the salivary, parathyroid, and thyroid glands.

Caution

Check with your doctor on whether you can do the pose if you have underlying neck issues.

Lateral Neck Stretch

  1. Sit tall in an easy, comfortable position with the spine straight.
  2. Place your right hand on the left side of the head above your left ear.
  3. Gently push your head towards your right shoulder till you feel a stretch on the left side of your neck.
  4. Hold it for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Release your hand and bring your head back to the neutral position.
  6. Breathe normally.
  7. Repeat on the other side for the same duration.

Benefits

This pose releases tension across the side of the neck on both sides and loosens up tight neck muscles.

Caution

Practice the pose carefully so that you do not strain the neck by pushing your head down too hard.

Things to Keep in Mind

If you have neck, shoulder, or back problems, check with your health care provider before you try Yin yoga for neck and shoulders. Warm-up exercises are essential to loosen up tight muscles and tissues and avoid injuries. Know your limits and stick to them. Release the pose when you feel increasing pain. Start slow — maintain the pose for the minimum duration and gradually increase it as your body becomes comfortable with it. There are many more poses in Yin yoga for neck and shoulders sequences than those described above that you can learn from a trained instructor.

You can practice the following as a simple warm-up routine before you practice Yin yoga for shoulders and neck.

  1. Sit in a comfortable seating posture.
  2. Breathe normally.
  3. Bend your elbows and place your fingers on your shoulders.
  4. Rotate your elbows gently — five times in the clockwise direction and five times in the anti-clockwise. 

The Bottom Line

The modern lifestyles diseases are here to stay. However, practicing Yin yoga stretches regularly will mitigate their effects and help you reduce the pains and stress. Remember to learn under the guidance of a certified yoga instructor so that you know how to practice safely and reap the maximum benefits.

Shalini Menon
Shalini has a Diploma in Yogic Education from Yoga Vidya Niketan in Mumbai. She taught for some time and instilled an abiding love for yoga in many, including her family members. Her younger daughter also graduated as a teacher from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram in Kerala and taught in Sydney, while her elder daughter went on to learn pilates.

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