A 9-Minute Yoga Flow For Neck & Shoulder Relief
Welcome to mbg moves! We've been working out at home more than ever lately—and we know our readers are, too. To help keep your fitness routine feeling fresh, we're releasing a new at-home workout every Monday to start your week off strong. Each month will feature routines from a different incredible trainer we adore. Now, let's get moving with our spotlight trainer: Emily Chen.
If you find your upper back, shoulders, and neck aching after hours on technology—you're certainly not alone. We're spending more time than ever sitting behind our computers or glued to our phones these days, and that can result in some nasty tension (often appropriately referred to as "tech neck").
But the good news is, there are ways to counteract these unpleasant effects. One powerful intervention: yoga! To help release pain in your neck and shoulders, specifically, I've put together this tension-relieving routine. It features five different mini flows to help counteract tightness and offer some much-needed relief.
This flow is less than 10 minutes long and gentle on your body, so feel free to use this as a daily tool.
Your 4-week challenge: For the next month, I'll be sharing yoga routines you can do from home. Each one is designed to help you tune in to your body, connect with yourself, and find a sense of peace. I encourage you to make these routines part of your weekly workout schedule as often as you can (you can do this quick flow every single day), but aim for at least two to three times a week.
- Time: 9 minutes
- Equipment: A set of blocks and a yoga mat.
- Instructions: Move through each mini flow, one after the next, and complete for the indicated amount of time/breaths.
Part 1: Side-to-side stretch
Part 2: Neck rolls
- Start in a kneeling position, with a block underneath your seat.
- Lift your right arm, and place your hand over your left ear. Gently guide your head toward your hand. Draw your opposite arm toward the floor. Hold for a couple of breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
- Then, interlace fingers behind your head, and draw your elbows back. Allow your head to drop back, leaning into your hands. Hold for a couple of breaths.
- As you exhale, draw your elbows in toward your ears, and drop your head forward. Hold here for a couple of breaths.
- Then, combine the movements. Take your ear to the right side, through the middle, then to the left. Continue to create a semicircle with your head for a couple of breaths. Move to the next pose.
Child's Pose Spinal Waves
- Start in a child's pose position, with your knees wide, your hips sitting back, arms stretching forward, and your torso resting over your thighs.
- Round your chin in toward your chest. Curl your tailbone under and roll forward into cat pose.
- Allow your shoulders to go slightly past your wrist, drop the belly down, draw the shoulder blades back into cow pose.
- Then draw your body all the way back into child's pose.
- Continue flowing in one fluid movement, through each phase, for eight times total. Move on to the next pose.
Kneeling Arm Sweeps
- Come into a kneeling position on your shins.
- Inhale to reach your arms up toward the ceiling.
- Then, bend your elbows, stretch your chest, cactus open your arms behind your body, and gaze upward.
- Then, move back to your starting position.
- Repeat this flow eight times total. Continue to the next pose.
Cobra Pose Spinal Waves
- Come down onto your mat, and lie on your stomach. Press the tops of the feet on the floor. Allow your hands to come out nice and wide, point your elbows up, prop yourself up onto your fingertips.
- Squeeze the glutes. Tuck your chin in toward your chest. Press your torso up off the ground in a fluid, wavelike motion, until your arms are straight.
- Then reverse the movement and slowly come back down onto the ground.
- Repeat for eight rounds total. Continue to the next pose.
- Start on the mat, lying on your stomach. Lift your feet up slightly.
- Then, lift your arms out in front of you (if you have a block, grab this in both hands).
- Hold here for 8 to 10 breaths, or as long as you need.
- Close out your practice with a child's pose.
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Emily Chen is a dedicated yogi and has been practicing and teaching yoga for the last eight years. She is the founder and lead teacher of Alchemy School of Yoga, a Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher training school. Formerly, she taught at leading NYC yoga studios, developed and led teacher training programs, mentored students, and programmed, hired and managed the yoga studio for a fitness start up. Emily was born in Panama and is ethnically half-Chinese. Now she splits her time between NYC and Florida.