Too Tight to Stretch Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 2

Stiff Neck and Shoulders

30 min - Practice
129 likes
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Description

We often tend to carry the weight of the world in our neck and shoulders. Find relief for a stiff neck and shoulders with this healing sequence to target tightness led by Alana. You will feel a new sense of ease and relief.
What You'll Need: Mat, Wall, Strap

Transcript

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(waves rushing) Welcome back. So this is a practice specifically for a stiff neck and shoulders. I know for me of all the body parts usually the neck and the shoulders are the most stiff, especially when I wake up in the morning, just depending on how much time I've spent on the computer or driving or how I slept that night. So hopefully, this practice will offer a bit of relief. So join me first, for this practice, you'll want a strap.

You can also use a tie or a piece of rope, as well as a wall. So let's begin with our feet wide, at least hip distance, and we'll just start by bending the knees and coming into an easy or not so easy forward fold. So hands on the thighs and then sliding the hands down the legs, and just begin to bend the knees a lot and let the head drop. The key is to really let the head release here, and then most likely there's a dull, achy, stiff, sticky feeling in the body, the back, the legs, maybe the neck. Let the back of the neck soften and just gently begin to nod the head no and a little bit yes.

See if this makes sense. Let the shoulders hang down around your ears and then draw the shoulders up the back and then let the shoulders drop down around the ears and then draw the shoulder blades up the back. One more time, draw the shoulders down to the ears and then draw the shoulder blades up the back. Good, release the shoulders down, bend the knees, keep the chin into the chest, and then slowly roll up with the chin in, just nice and slow, stacking each bone, keeping the chin in, then feeling the heart lift, the shoulders roll up around the ears, and back down. We'll take a few shoulder shrugs.

You'll inhale, draw the shoulders up around the ears, we're all pretty good at this, and exhale, drop. Inhale, roll the shoulders back and up, squeeze a little bit, exhale, and drop. One more time, draw the shoulders up and back, squeeze, exhale, and drop, and let's take some shoulder rolls, rolling the shoulders back one at a time. And then invite some movement into the body, so you might emphasize it a little bit, lifting the elbows, inviting the whole upper body, the torso, the rib cage to move. Moving in the opposite direction, maybe that's back and forward.

One direction might feel a bit more sticky or challenging than the other. Good, and then from here, we'll reach the arms out to the side and begin to find and feel the internal rotations, so the shoulders rolling forward, and then the external rotation. So from here, moving from the shoulder joint and then allowing the hands to follow, and then reaching from the heart into your pinkie fingers, lengthening and lifting up a bit, and then internal rotation and external rotation. So it's like a flossing of the shoulder joint. A few more times like this.

As you explore this range of motion, this range of movement, the internal rotation and the external rotation, become aware of your breath, and can you feel a bit more ease up through the neck and maybe the eyes, the jaw? Good, and then we're gonna press from the heart into the hands and reach the heels of your palms away from you, draw the fingers towards the ears, spread the fingers wide apart, lengthen up through the spine, lift, and press. Yes, inhale and reach. Nice, and then exhale, curl the fingers under, and stretch through the top of the wrists here. Feel a nice stretch, and then from here, draw your chin towards your chest, so we're stretching the back of the neck, reaching through the top of the hand, so there's a nice stretch through the top of the hands and wrists.

Good, one more, inhale, and then exhale, release your arms down. Inhale, squeeze the shoulders up around your ears, and then exhale, drop the shoulders down. Beautiful. From here, we'll pick up our strap or a tie, and depending on the length, you might fold it in half. This strap is a little long so I'll fold it in half.

Bring the feet at least hip distance apart. Now depending on your shoulders today, you might start with a slightly wider grip, which gives the shoulders a bit more room. If you have more open shoulders today, you might bring the hands slightly closer together. So bring the strap down towards the thighs and together we'll inhale, reach the arms up over the top of the head. Take a few moments here, go down through your feet, lengthen up through your spine, and then reach from your heart into your hands.

Relax the shoulders down the back, soft through the neck. One more inhale. You might look up. Exhale, release the arms down. We'll do that a few times together.

Inhale, reach the arms up. Take a few moments, go down through the feet, up through the spine, lengthen, lift the heart. Exhale, and release. Let's find that two more times. Inhale, come up.

Take a moment to pause, go down, go up, and then soften the ribs into the body of it, so if the ribs are like coming forward, draw the ribs in, let your tailbone drop towards your heels a bit. Inhale, exhale, release. Last time, inhale, come up. Pause here, down through the feet, up through the arms. Now you might stay right here.

You might begin to play with widening the hands a little bit and bringing the strap behind the head. Again, let the ribs come into the body, easy through the neck. Take a full breath here, wide through the collar bones, and then exhale, (exhales), release. Good, inhale, reach the strap up. This time, we're gonna take it up, out, and over to the right.

So press down through your left foot and take it up, out, and over towards your right down through that left foot and up through the left arm. You might gaze, look down towards the floor, towards that right foot. Take a breath in to the left side full and wide into the ribs. On your inhale, reach with the top left arm, come back up to center. We'll take it up, out, and over to the left.

Yes, press down through the right foot up through that right arm. Gaze might look down towards that left foot, and breathe wide into the right side of your body, so wide between the ribs. (exhales) Softer in the face. As you're ready, inhale, reach with the top right arm, come all the way back up. Exhale, and release.

Inhale, squeeze the shoulders up around the ears. Exhale, and drop. Okay, we'll bring the strap behind us now, and I'll do this so you can see, and then drawing the strap down towards the heels, so you're drawing the shoulder blades into the body, and then lifting up through the chest so the front line of the body is lengthening, the collar bones are widening. You might stay right here today. You might begin to bend your knees, roll your pelvis forward, and bring your chest towards your thighs, stretching your arms up, out, and over.

The key here is to really let the neck and the head release. Nice, keeping the knees bent, breathing here. It's almost over. (chuckles) (exhales) Last few moments. You might play with shifting some weight into the balls of your feet. Good, inhale, exhale, bend the knees.

If you have a strap or a tie, release it down by your heels, and then free your arms, knees soft. You might let the head gently shake out a little bit. As you're ready, bend the knees, keep the chin into the chest, and then slowly roll up towards standing, keeping the chin in. Pause, you feel the heart rise, the shoulders rolls up around the ears, and then back down, and just take a moment here with the palms open, spreading the toes, and just see how you feel. Allow for an inhale, and then exhale. (exhales) With the breath, release.

Nice, and then let's bring our strap off to the side. And from here, we're going to stretch the neck a bit, so reaching the right arm out to the side, and then feel and find that internal rotation action, and I'll show. So right arm out to the side, rotate the shoulder forward and then bring the back of your hand to your lower back or your sacrum. Okay, for you, this might be perfect. Some of you might begin to bring the hand towards the mid-back between the shoulder blades, but find a good spot that works for you, and then draw the elbow into the front of the body, soften the shoulder blade down the back.

Reach the left arm out, inhale, and as you exhale, let the chin come towards your chest and then slowly begin to draw your left ear towards your left shoulder, so away from the right elbow. And just take a moment here to notice your breath. And then breathe in where you feel the sensation, breathe into where you feel the stretch. Soften through the face a bit, this can be quite intense. You might take a look down, rotating the neck down, the gaze down.

You might begin to look up. Take a few moments here to gently, carefully explore some movement here in the neck, and can you allow your eyes to soften a bit? And you might find a good place to pause and breathe. Nice, one more inhale. Exhale, let the chin come towards your chest, and then release the right arm and shake it out.

Inhale, and then exhale. Good, other side, reaching the left arm out, find that internal rotation, and then back of the hand to the lower back or the sacrum. So you can see it, so left arm out, internally rotate, and then back of the hand to the sacrum, drawing your shoulder blade down your back, your elbow in. Inhale, exhale, let the chin come towards the chest, and then draw your right ear towards your right shoulder away from your left elbow, reach the right arm out. Pause when you first begin to feel something, when you first begin to feel the stretch.

Come back to your breath. You might stay right here. You might begin to look down towards the floor, and then perhaps exploring a bit of movement, maybe looking up. Few moments here, breathing. We're not trying to crank the neck but just exploring some movement.

You might relax the jaw or open the jaw. For me here, I feel a lot of heat in the eyes. There's some intensity in the face. So soften what you can. Good, and then when you feel ready, let your chin come towards your chest, release your left arm, and then let the head come up.

Let's inhale, draw the shoulders up around the ears, and then exhale, release the shoulders down the back. M'kay, from here, we're gonna interlace the fingers behind the head, kind of like if you were going up into a head stand. Spread the toes, feet about hip distance apart, lengthen up through the spine, and then gently begin to draw the chin towards the chest, just encouraging the back of the neck to length and stretch. So we're not jamming the head down or the neck down, just kind of encouraging gravity, the arms, the hands to assist a stretch through the neck, grounding through your feet a bit. Good, now as you inhale, you'll press the back of your head into your hands, and as you press the back of the hand into the hands, let that help to lift and brighten up through chest and through the heart, maybe a slight little back bend up through the spine as you lift and lengthen.

Beautiful, inhale, and then exhale, come back up, release the arms. Take a moment with the palms open in mountain pose, tadasana, and then bring your hands together. From here, we'll find five quarter sun salutations just moving with our breath. Feel the rise of your inhale. Exhale, let the breathe release.

(exhales) As you're ready, inhale. Exhale, and press the hands down to the floor. Inhale, circle the palms up, lengthen, and then exhale, let the hands come together at the heart, at the chest. Four more times like that, breathing in. Exhale, and press the hands down, releasing the shoulders.

Inhale, circle the arms up, lengthen, and exhale, hands together at the heart. Three more, breathing in. Exhale, breathing out. (exhales) Inhales, circle the arms up, and exhale, hands together. Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale, circle the arms up, lengthening. Exhale, hands together. Last round, as you're ready, breathing in. Exhale, and press the hands down. Inhale, circle the arms up, lengthen, and exhale, hands together.

(exhales) Releasing the arms, just taking a moment here. Wide through the neck, so letting the chin draw in slightly, softening through the eyes and the jaw. Nice, from here, we'll find our way to the wall, and we're just gonna start with what I call like a hand melt, okay. So spread the fingers wide up against your wall and just begin to let the palms open and let the entire hand rest on the wall. So oftentimes, the fingers can kinda be like this, so like melt, soften the hands to the wall, and then let the shoulders relax a bit, let the face relax.

Yeah. Few more moments here. Like, can you let the hand really receive the support of the wall, the entire palm melting and spreading, opening? Good, relaxing the shoulders down the back, and then from here, we're gonna slide the palms just below the shoulders, and then walk the feet back into a right angle at the wall or a wall dog, so the feet are underneath the hips, and the key here is to reach the hips away from the hands, and you can bend the knees here. There's a strong stretch happening right through the hamstrings, so as you bend the knees, it'll take the stretch out of the hamstrings to be a bit more accessible.

Reach your hips away from hands, lengthen the spine, and let the head be an extension of your spine, so the head isn't lifting up towards the wall, it's not dropping down to the floor, but there's a quality of length there from the tailbone through the top of the head. Good, one more breath. Breathe wide into the body, into the torso. (exhales) And then walk the hands, the feet back to the wall to come out, and then from here, we'll explore a bit of a shoulder opening. So standing arm's length from the wall, and spread the fingers wide apart so the hand's like a noon hour on the clock.

Begin to find that external rotation. So bring the fingers to about 3 o'clock. Okay, and spread the fingers wide apart. Again, melt the palm to the wall, soften through the face, easy through the neck, and now right here this might be quite intense. You might stay here.

You might begin to walk your feet out. Inhale, lengthen up through the spine, and then exhale, soften the face, soften the neck. Yeah, can you feel the stretch through the shoulder? Melt the palms into the wall, lift up. You might reach your left arm out as you lengthen, lift, breathe.

If you're looking for more of a stretch, you can walk your feet towards the top of your mat. Inhale, and lift, and then exhale again, easy through the neck, easy through the face, breathing. (inhales and exhales) (inhales and exhales) Okay, let's take one more inhale together, and then exhale, release the left arm if it's out, walk the feet back, and then release the right arm and just shake it out a little bit. And just take a moment to notice both sides. Okay, other side, so left hand at the wall.

Bring your feet 'bout arm's length from the wall, spread the fingers wide apart, soften your left shoulder down the back, spread the fingers wide. Again, so here the hand, again, is like at noon. From here, begin to externally rotate your shoulder, so now we're at like the 9 o'clock hour approximately with the hand, the fingers, melting the hand, the palm into the wall. And, again, this is a different side, a different shoulder, arm, and hand, so it might feel completely different. You're welcome to stay right here.

You might begin to walk your feet out towards the top of your mat. Inhale, lengthen, go down through the feet, up through the spine, and then exhale, soften through the face, the shoulders, melting the palm into the wall. You might stay here, you might reach the right arm out from the heart. Breathing. And you might stay here.

If you're looking for even more of a stretch, you might walk your feet towards the top of your mat. Oo, if you feel a sharp, tingling pain in your arm, in your fingers, it's usually a good indicator, a good sign to back it out, back off. Good, one more inhale. (inhales) Exhale, and release. Release the right arm, release the left arm, and just take a moment to pause and notice how you feel. Shake that left arm out a little bit.

(exhales) Okay, we're gonna come back to the wall, and we're gonna extend our arms up the wall, and this is a really nice one called the arm crawl. So find that melting action of the palms at the wall, and then begin to slide and reach the left arm up the wall, so finding a nice long line through the left side, get long, and then bend the knees and extend, reach the right arm up the wall across the body. Good, and then left arm slides up across the body, and then right arm slides up across the body, and do this a few times. Like, you might even imagine like you're finger painting the wall here. Breathing, just inviting movement through the upper body, through the torso, through the shoulder blades, the ribs, up through the neck.

You can really get creative here. I know it might look a little funny, (laughs) but it feels pretty good, it feels really nice. Okay, and then come back to the center. From here, we're gonna slide down into our wall dog again, so bringing the palms down below the shoulders. Spread the fingers wide apart, melting the hand, softening the shoulders down the back, and then walk your feet into that right angle again, so feet are underneath your hips.

Softening, bending the knees, and then reach your hips away from your hands to really encourage a length through the spine. (inhales and exhales) Breathe. (laughs) Lengthen. Soft through the neck. (exhales) (inhales) (exhales) Last few moments here, press down through the balls of your feet, keep reaching your hips away from your hands, find length through the spine. (inhales) Inhale, exhale, slow walk the feet back to the wall to come out.

Take a moment here, release the arms, and then we're gonna turn, rest on the wall. Bring your feet at least about a foot away from your wall. We're gonna bend the knees, hands on the thighs, and then, slow, find a forward fold here nice and easy, leaning into the wall for support, and then relax the back of the neck, and you might gently, again, nod the head a little yes and no. (exhales) Really feeling that support of your wall as you fold forward. (inhales) Breathing.

(exhales) (inhales) (exhales) As you're ready, slow, chin into your chest, you can lean into the wall, and slowly roll up to standing, keeping the chin into the chest, feeling the heart, the shoulders, and the head. Just taking a moment to lean up against your wall and resting in that support. And then you can bring yours to the wall and press yourself up to standing, and making your way towards the center of your mat away from your wall, we'll close our practice again with a sun salutations. Feet underneath the hips, hands together, feel an inhale. (inhales) Exhale, let the breath release.

(exhales) Inhale. (inhales) Exhale, and press the hands down to the floor. Inhale, circle the arms up. Exhale, hands together. Two more times, breathing in. (inhales) Exhale, and press the hands down.

(exhales) Inhale, circle the arms up. Exhale, hands together. (exhales) Last time, breathing in. Exhale, pressing the hands down, relaxing the shoulders. Inhale, circle the arms up, and exhale, hands together.

From here, releasing the arms, letting the palms open, lengthening the back of the neck, drawing the chin slightly in. Drawing your awareness, your attention down towards your feet. What would it feel like to find and feel a bit more length up through the spine? And just taking a few moments here to rest in mountain pose. And then drawing the hands together.

Thank you for your practice. Hope you feel a bit better. Namaste.

Comments

3 people like this.
This set was designed perfectly for what I needed this morning and I really like the gentle approach with reminders to stay where I feel my edge is at now and breathe. Feels yummy.
Super calm stretching series. A class that so many of us need. Thank you!
Hi Caryl, Thank you for being here! I'm so glad that you found the practice useful. Best wishes, Alana
Great for the neck- felt amazing after!
Hi Lacy, Great news. Thank you for sharing. I am so glad that you found some relief. :)
1 person likes this.
Dear Alana, thank you for being such a sweet, kind and gentle teacher. This practise really helped me to nurture my neck so i appreciate your time and care in helping me with this. All blessings to you. Shine on! Sparkles from Holly
Hi Simon, As always, thank you for your presence and generous sharing on the forum. It warms my heart to know that the practice helped you... this yoga stuffy really works. :) It's truly an honor to share what I love.
Woke up with shoulder pain, within 10 minutes of this video, my pain is gone. Thank you!
Good Morning, Sharylyn! I am delighted to hear that you found relief from this practice. Please keep me posted on your findings. We are in this together! Best wishes, Alana
TS
2 people like this.
Wow! Thank you for this sequence! Neck and shoulders are often overlooked, but need so much stretching and healing.
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