Sitting at a desk, staying connected to your phone, commuting back and forth, hauling bags and kids, constantly stressing, and poor sleep quality are just some of the many reasons why your shoulders and neck may feel wretchedly tense by the end of the day. It’s not your fault. It is modern life’s fault.
Here is a sequence I like to use as either one unit or individually to release my shoulders, neck, and back muscles. I think of it as giving them a little extra love so they can go out and do it all again for me the next day.
Sequence reads left to right.
1. "Awesome Stretch"
I call this pose the "awesome stretch" because that’s just exactly what it is. Start by laying on the ground, with your face down to the floor. Spread your arms open into a T-shape with your arms directly out of the shoulders. As you inhale, roll over to the right, placing the left foot behind you, knee bent. Rest your cheek to the floor. Make sure you only go as far as feels comfortable to your shoulder. Breathe here as long as feels good, and then repeat the other side.
2. Bow Pose (Danurasana)
Go back to lying on your stomach. Bend your knees and grab the ankles. If you have a lower back problem skip this pose and try these instead. On an inhale, lift your chest and maybe your legs up. Drop your chin if it feels good. Breathe here 5 to 10 breaths.
3. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Flip over to lie on your back. Place your feet on the floor hips-width distance apart, knees bent, and arms along side your body. Inhale to lift your butt and lumbar spine up. Exhale, and shimmy your shoulders underneath your body. Optionally, you can clasp your hands with your palms touching. Bring your sternum toward your chin and breathe here 5 to 10 breaths or longer. You can even place a block under your sacrum and hang out a while on your phone, maybe binging on some on Netflix.
4. Thoracic Release
Lie on your back and let your knees flop out to the side, with the soles of your feet touching. Place a block or a rolled up blanket underneath your thoracic spine. That is the upper back below the neck, the part that is usually hunched like a gorilla. Spread your arms wide and optionally bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Breathe here for as long as what feels good.
Image courtesy of the author