Too Tight to Stretch Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 4

Freeing the Neck and Shoulders

20 min - Practice


Emily shares a practice to help us find more freedom and mobility in our neck and shoulders. With the support of a wall, chair, and strap, we create space, length, and ease through the upper body. Your neck and shoulders will thank you.
What You'll Need: Mat, Chair, Wall, Strap


Read Full Transcript

Hi everyone, welcome back. This practice is a short practice that will help you to have a little more freedom and mobility in your shoulders. And for this practice, you will need a strap, a chair, and to be at a wall space. So we'll start out just closing the eyes for a moment, finding mountain pose. So you'll have your feet parallel and hip width apart, and slightly rock your weight back towards your heels.

And then tune into your breath, and just take a few really nice, full breaths. Expanding the belly and the rib cage as you inhale. And just letting the belly gently move back towards the spine as you exhale. As as you're here, just bring your awareness into your shoulders and your neck, and just noticing any sensations that you may be feeling in this area. And on your next inhale, just shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, and then circle them back and draw them down.

Let's just do that three more times. Inhaling, shrugging the shoulders up, and exhaling, circling the shoulders back and down. And as you do this, just noticing if there's anywhere that feels a little bit sticky or tight. Good, and then let's reverse that. Shrugging the shoulders up, circling forward and down.

And inhaling, shrugging the shoulders up, circling forward and down. And one more time like that. Good. And then we'll find our strap, and just fold your strap in half. And glue your upper arms to your rib cage.

And you want to find mountain pose again with your legs. As you're moving through these external rotation exercises with your shoulders, try to really maintain mountain pose. Keep the low ribs down and your wrists straight, and the whole time gluing your upper arms to your ribs. We'll just take a nice big inhale, and then gently start to pull the strap with your right hand, resisting with your left, and starting to externally rotate that right arm. And then, start to pull with your left hand, externally rotating the left arm, keeping the elbows glued in towards your ribs.

And then just start to move side to side, resisting the movement. Continuing to breathe. Maintaining that steady mountain posture with the legs and the torso. Shoulders are relaxed down away from the ears. And let's just do that two more rounds on each side.

Good. You can always create a little bit more resistance of you feel like you need it, or you may be fatiguing a little bit and need a little bit less. Good. And then let's release, let's come all the way down. Let's turn the palms over for shoulder flossing.

And we'll find the mountain pose again. In this one, it's really important not to lose the stability through your pelvis and your spine. So I'd like you to add in a little bit more action by just gently contracting your lateral hips and keeping the low ribs down. From here, you'll turn your palms towards your thighs, and have your hands a little bit wider than your shoulders. And then start to stretch your arms up.

Let's just inhale the arms up and exhale the arms down a couple of times just to start to warm the shoulders up a little bit more here. And what you may notice is that, you may have some limitation in how far you can raise your shoulders up. Next time your arms are up, keep them there. And then, again, create a little resistance in your strap, and just start to move your arms in all different directions. And what you may find is that your rib cage may want to try to thrust forward.

I know this happens for me a lot, and I have to really engage my abdominal muscles to maintain my stability through my pelvis and my rib cage. Good. So we're just gonna move back and forth through this range of motion for the shoulder joint, so just another few breaths, don't forget to continue with those really nice, long, fluid breaths here. Good, and then let's come back to the center, and slowly release the arms down. We'll put our strap down.

And then I'll turn around so that you can see the next shoulder stretch that we're gonna do. Again, really important to find a very steady mountain pose. And you'll sweep your right arm up alongside your ear. Bend your elbow. And then bring your left hand up and try to hold onto your right elbow with your left hand.

And your arm may be out a little bit away from your head. But if you can, start to draw that arm, so that your arm comes behind your head. Drop your rib cage down, and then gently press your head back into your arm. Take some nice cleansing breaths here. And you can feel you're creating some really nice space to breath right into that right side body.

Slowly release. You can just stretch your arms up, sweep the arms out and down. So we'll inhale, sweep the left arm up, bend your left elbow, and then reach your right hand across to hold the elbow here. And if you can, start to draw that elbow back behind your head, so that you're getting a nice stretch through your tricep and your lats on that left side. Draw the rib cage down, weight slightly back into the heels, and then pressing the back of your head into your hand, breathe deeply here.

Good, slowly release. And then find your chair. Bring your chair and turn the seat of the chair towards the wall, and just place the legs of the chair right up to the baseboard, so it doesn't slide anywhere. We'll come into dolphin at the chair. So to do this pose, you'll walk your feet back a bit, and have your feet hip width apart.

And then you'll bring your elbows right down to the chair, shoulder width apart. And you want to make sure you're not right on the pointy bone of your elbow. Walk your feet back a little bit, and bring your hands to a prayer position. Bend your knees, so that you have a lot of freedom here in your spine, and drop your head. And then once again, see if you can draw your rib cage in just a little bit, so you keep this opening through the shoulders.

Take some really nice deep breaths here. Try to let your neck completely relax. You can also do this stretch at a kitchen counter top, or your desk. It's a great one just to reverse all of the keyboard work that we do, smart phone work that we do. As you're ready, slowly release.

Just bring your hands to the back of your chair and then walk yourself in. Place your chair off to the side. And now we're going to work with wall clocks. So I'm going to turn around so that you can see the proper hand placement. So we'll start with the left hip towards the wall.

And have your feet about four inches away from the wall, parallel, you'll stand in mountain pose. And then reach your left arm back behind you, shoulder height, and place your palm on the wall. Once you have your hand in place, try to turn your upper body back, so that you're trying to line up your sternum over your pubic bone again, as if you were standing with your arms down alongside your body. Breathe really deeply here. And you may find that it feels good just to turn your head to the right and drop the chin a little bit.

That may be a little intense, so you can always bring your head back to center if that feels better. I like to really focus my breath into my chest here, so I'm really nourishing the tissues that I'm opening with my breath. And after your next exhale, slowly unwind, just enough so that you can crawl your fingertips up, about four to six inches, depending on the comfort in your shoulder joint. Once you place your hand again, start to rotate your chest back towards center. Again, trying to line up your sternum over your pubic bone, and then just finding those deep, full breaths again.

Good, on your next exhale, completely unwind, and then lower that arm down, and then we'll turn around to do the right side. Standing with your feet about four inches away from the wall. Find mountain pose, and then reach your right arm back. Place your palm on the wall, shoulder height. Start to turn your chest towards center again, thinking about lining your sternum up over your pubic bone.

You're attempting to do this here. And then if it feels good, you can turn your head away from the wall and just lower your chin a little bit. Find those nice, fluid breaths, filling up the rib cage. And the next time that you inhale, slowly unwind. And then again, just start to crawl your fingertips up a little bit higher, planting the palm back on the wall, and then turning your chest back towards center.

Breathing here. Good. As you inhale, slowly unwind. Lower your arm down. Stepping away form the wall.

We'll just come into a really nice stretch for the neck now. So we'll just drop the left ear towards the shoulder. And you can stay right here of you feel like you're getting enough stretch in your scalings, but if you want to turn up the volume a little bit more, you can start to reach your right fingertips down towards the floor. And you can stay right here. If you was to turn this up a little bit more, bring your left arm up, bring your hand to the right side of your head, and then just gently rest your hand on your head.

So you're not pulling here. You're just letting your hand rest on your head. You're taking some really nice deep breaths and you're just letting gravity do the work for you to increase the stretch. Good. Release the top arm if you have it raised, and then slowly bring your head back to center, and then drop your right ear towards your shoulder.

You can stay right here of start to reach those left fingertips away from you. Find the breath. And if you want a little bit more, you'll bring your right hand up over to the left side of the head, and again, just rest your hand on your head. Reach the fingertips away from you, breathe really deeply here. And then slowly, slowly release that top arm.

Bring your head back to center, release the arms all the way down, and find your strap one more time. This time, take your strap behind your back, and have your hands just a little wider than your shoulders, with your palms facing towards your hips. And then again, really focusing on our mountain pose, drawing up through the low belly a little bit, engaging the lateral hips so that we're really stable as we start to lift the hands away from the hips. You should feel a really nice opening in the front of your shoulders and your chest. And you can stay right here, or if you would like to, you can bend your knees, hinge at your hips, and start to fold forward.

And lift your hands up towards the ceiling as you drop your head down towards the floor. And again, we're using gravity as our helper here in this pose. You can just start to let gravity draw the arms a little bit more over your head. Find your breath. Relax the neck.

Slowly lower the arms down first, and then make your way all the way back up to stand. And then just set your strap off to the side. Stand nice and tall in mountain pose, close your eyes. And then one more time, just shrug your shoulders up towards your ears, and circle them back and down. You can do this a few times just to see if you've created a little bit more heat and mobility in your shoulder joints.

And then change directions of your circles. Shrugging the shoulders up, forward and down. And again, just noticing if you've made any change in your body here. Let your arms relax down to your sides now. Your shoulders drop down towards the floor.

Crown of the head stretching up towards the sky. Soften your breath. Noticing the effects of your practice. And slowly bring the hands together in front of the heart. Namaste.


2 people like this.
Excellent computer relief. Blessings Emily!
Thanks so much for trying this practice, Simon! I am so happy to hear it provided some relief for your body! With Gratitude, Emily
Thank you! I am sure I will want to repeat this practice again after too much computer time!
Anne I am so pleased you found this practice helpful. Thank you!
Hi Emily--Thanks so much for this practice! It's the perfect amount of time to get a good stretch after being on the computer all day.
That really helped my tight neck & shoulders thanks
Lorraine Marek I am so happy this was helpful for you! 
Great practice, Emily! My shoulders and neck feel better now! Regards!

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