Stiffness in neck and shoulder? 6 yoga stretches to increase range of motion

Yoga can be an excellent practice for relieving stiffness and increasing the range of motion in the body. Here are some yoga poses for neck pain that can help achieve these benefits.
Yoga poses for neck pain
Yoga can help you get rid of neck and shoulder stiffness. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Aayushi Gupta Published: 24 Jun 2023, 11:15 am IST
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Whether it’s from long hours spent hunched over desks, staring at screens, or simply carrying the weight of your daily stress, your upper body often pays the price. This makes it too easy for tension and stiffness to accumulate in your necks and shoulders. However, the ancient practice of yoga offers a rejuvenating remedy for this common affliction. By incorporating specific yoga poses for neck pain into your routine, you can increase the range of motion in both the neck and shoulders, relieving tension and stiffness and fostering a greater sense of ease and well-being.

Health Shots reached out to Mansoor Baluch, a celebrity Mumbai-based Yoga coach, to find out which yoga poses can help relieve stiffness and pain in neck and shoulders.

Baluch says, “Eliminating neck and shoulder stiffness improves your ability to concentrate and work efficiently throughout the day. For this, practising certain yoga stretches is a perfect way!”

Yoga poses for neck pain
Don’t ignore your neck pain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Yoga poses to relieve tightness in the neck and shoulders

Here are 7 easy yoga asanas that can increase the range of motion and relieve tightness in the neck and shoulder:

1. Eagle pose (Garudhasana)

This posture is excellent for enhancing focus and balance. It increases mobility and flexibility in the upper body, including the neck and shoulders.

How to do it:

Begin by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart. Extend your arms straight in front of you at shoulder height. Cross your right arm over your left arm, bringing your palms to touch if possible. Bend your knees slightly and cross your right thigh over your left thigh, hooking your right foot behind your left calf if you can. Find your balance and take a few deep breaths, feeling the stretch in your upper back and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release and repeat on the opposite side.

2. Full cobra pose (Bhujangasana)

This pose stretches the muscles in the chest, shoulders, and neck, improving flexibility and mobility. Moreover, it strengthens the back muscles, promoting proper alignment and posture.

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cobra pose for neck pain
Practice cobra pose for several benefits. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to do it:

Lie flat on your stomach, with your legs extended and the tops of your feet pressing into the floor. Place your palms on the mat next to your shoulders, fingers pointing forward. Inhale and gently lift your upper body off the ground, using the strength of your back muscles, not your arms. Keep your elbows close to your sides and your shoulders relaxed. Look straight ahead or slightly upwards. Hold the pose for 15-30 seconds while breathing deeply, then slowly lower your body back down.

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3. Boat pose (Navasana)

Boat pose improves posture and alignment, reducing strain on the neck and shoulders. Plus, it increases overall body awareness and balance.

How to do it:

Sit on the mat with your legs extended in front of you. Place your hands slightly behind your hips, fingers pointing towards your feet. Engage your core muscles and lean back slightly, lifting your feet off the ground. Straighten your legs as much as you can, forming a V-shape with your body. Keep your chest lifted and your spine straight. If you can, extend your arms parallel to the ground. Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds while maintaining steady breaths, then gently release.

4. Bow pose (Dhanurasana)

Bow pose stretches the entire front body, including the shoulders, chest, and neck, improving flexibility. It is also a great pose that stimulates the digestive system and massages the abdominal organs.

How to do it:

Lie flat on your stomach with your legs extended. Bend your knees and bring your heels as close to your buttocks as possible. Reach back with your hands and grasp your ankles. Inhale deeply, then as you exhale, lift your chest and thighs off the mat, creating a bow shape with your body. Look forward and keep your neck in a neutral position. Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds while breathing steadily, then slowly release and relax.

5. Balasana (Baby pose)

Balasana releases tension in the neck and shoulders, promoting relaxation and reducing stiffness.

Benefits of balasana
Try balasana for neck and shoulder pain. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to do it:

Start by kneeling on the mat and sit back on your heels. Exhale and lower your torso down, bringing your forehead to the ground. Extend your arms forward or rest them alongside your body. Allow your shoulders to relax and surrender to the pose, feeling a gentle stretch in your neck and upper back. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for 1-2 minutes, focusing on releasing tension with each exhalation.

6. Fish pose (Matsyasana)

The fish pose opens up the chest and improves lung capacity, enhancing breathing. It also relieves tension and fatigue in the upper body, promoting relaxation and rejuvenation.

How to do it:

Lie on your back with your legs extended and your arms resting alongside your body, palms facing down. Slide your hands underneath your buttocks, palms down. Inhale and press your forearms and elbows into the mat, lifting your upper body off the ground. Tilt your head back and allow the crown of your head to lightly touch the mat, arching your spine and opening your chest. Keep your legs engaged and toes pointed. Take slow, deep breaths and hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then gently release and rest.

7. Spine twisting pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Spine twisting pose stretches and strengthens the muscles along the back and sides of the torso. It also stimulates digestion and massages the internal organs, promoting overall health.

Yoga poses for neck pain
Spinal twist is one of the best pose to improve flexibility. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

How to do it:

Sit on the mat with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your right knee and cross your right foot over your left leg, placing it on the mat next to your left knee. Keep your left leg extended and foot flexed. Inhale and lengthen your spine, then exhale and twist your torso to the right, placing your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Place your right

Incorporating these yoga stretches into your routine can help alleviate stiffness, increase the range of motion, and promote overall flexibility and mobility in the neck and shoulders. So, try these poses regularly to get relief!

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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