Move to Meditate Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 7

Neck and Shoulder Release

25 min - Practice


Lydia shares a neck and shoulder sequence designed to promote relief, ease, and freedom in the upper body in preparation for a 7-minute seated meditation. Whether you're at the start or end of your day, this practice will result in feeling more calm, centered, and refreshed.
What You'll Need: Blanket, Strap


Read Full Transcript

Hi everyone, welcome back. This practice is a set of neck and shoulder openers designed to ease up some of that tension in your neck and shoulders and then we're going to do about a seven-minute meditation or sit. So you'll need something like a strap, a yoga strap, or you could use a belt or a scarf or a leg of jean, whatever you got, and then also something to sit on. So I've got a blanket that I like to sit on, but you could have a couple blankets or a pillow or even a chair. So we'll start taking our strap out in front, opening up quite a bit wider than your shoulders and inhale that strap up and over your head. Wrap your outer armpits forwards, reach up through your spine, ribs in, and side bend over to one side. Try to straighten your arms as much as you can because the more you straighten your arms you're gonna access that lift of your upper rib cage. You can even let your head hang if you like. Inhale up into the center and I'm gonna make my hips, my hips a little wider here and then exhale over to the other side. Ribs in. Maybe even let your head go. Tailbone down. Nice long belly and then inhale it up into the center and exhale, drop that strap down. Hold it lightly with your fingers and roll your shoulders a couple times in the joint. And you can let your upper spine roll with this too and go the other way. So if you've been sitting too much and that's the culprit of head and neck tension or maybe a little bit, there's a lot going on in your life or holding children, this is a great practice for that. Then we'll take the strap back up and if it's too intense for you, widen. If it's not intense enough, shorten your distance through the strap and then I'm gonna really wrap my armpits forward, outer armpits forward, lift my shoulders. So I'm almost doing a little back bend but mostly in the upper chest and let that strap lean back behind me. Taking a couple deep breaths into that and then I'm even gonna widen a little bit more today and let that strap come all the way back behind and you might widen it quite a bit and then really relax. I'm gonna lift my shoulders and then totally relax them and then I'm gonna go all the way back over. So just give myself a bit more space. I'm gonna really lift my thorax, lift my chest up and back over and I really feel those asymmetries in my shoulders doing that. So lift them up and relax and now I'm gonna do that three more times maybe using a little momentum. So I want to keep my ribs in. Try not to really arc forwards through your chest but really lift the chest and back behind. Exhale, inhale up and exhale down. Next two, I'm gonna try not to buckle through my wrists. Really keep the wrists long. Exhale and it helps me actually to tuck my chin towards my chest. Reach out through my wrists. Inhale, exhale. So last one. I can really feel the difference in my right shoulder there. So roll up and exhale. Totally relax. So this time we're gonna let the strap come up. Right arm right near my ear and left arm is gonna swing back behind me. Then I'm gonna reach up through my right arm and down through my left arm and same thing. Keep the abdominal wall in, ribs in. Reach up. Try not to buckle through the right wrist and reach back. So almost it feels like my bicep is moving behind my ear. A few deep breaths. And then all the way up and exhale and release. I'm gonna hold lightly with my hands. Release the shoulders and try the other side. So reach up. My left bicep is gonna come towards my ear. My right arm is gonna swing back, ribs in, abdominal wall a little bit in. Reach up through my left arm and then back and down through my right arm. The shoulder blades are gonna come into the back of the chest so there's a little bit of an opening at the top of the chest but I'm not pushing my spine forwards too much. So I'm gonna lift up. Try not to buckle through the wrists which is hard for me and then exhale and pull back. Inhale it up and I'm gonna exhale out of my mouth there. Let it come down. Roll the shoulders up and release them. Okay so then I'm gonna take my right arm with a strap behind me and I'm gonna hang the strap down. So I'm just gonna show you this way so that you can see. Take my left arm around and pull my right elbow behind. Same thing here. So we're compensating in the spine if we arc too much. So pull the ribs in. Try to make the spine a little bit more neutral and work with the shoulders. And then I can stay there or I can utilize the strap by turning my left thumb down and then reaching it up my back to find the strap somewhere. And some people can even reach for their fingers. Pull the abdominal wall in. Reach up through the right elbow and up back and down through the left shoulder. A couple deep breaths. It's really helping me right now to exhale out of my mouth and just really let go of that tension at the base of the neck and in those shoulders. So one more nice deep breath. And I'm gonna slowly let that go and switch sides. So I'm gonna take my left arm up. Let the strap hang down. Hold on to the right elbow and pull it back. Pull my ribs in. Stand nice and tall and I can stay there. I like to tuck my chin here. It feels good for this part. And then right thumb can come down, back, hold on to the strap or fingers. And this side for me is way tighter because that right side is my dominant arm. So I'm not gonna grab for the fingers. And I'm gonna go up through my left elbow. Up back and down through my right shoulder. Ribs in and breathe.

And I even like to take my left elbow a little bit wide here and look up. Grounded through your feet, always lifted through the upper chest. Ribs in and down. And exhale and release that. Okay, last one with the strap. We're gonna take this strap behind and it's possible for some people to hold the hands right together. If you have a little more tightness in your shoulders, you might want to go about shoulder distance apart here. Feet hip distance apart are wider. Bend your knees to accommodate for forward fold. Thighs back. Shoulders up and back. And fold forwards. We're gonna let that strap come up, out, and over. See if when you're upside down you can really roll open your collar bones. And then push into your heels. Use your hands to help you come all the way up. And exhale and release. And I'm gonna put the strap to one side. And then I'm gonna take my right arm across, hook it with the left hand, and pull. And then I'm gonna look right and almost try to rotate my whole chest to the right and reach through my right hand bones, my right wrist, my right fingertips. This feels amazing in the outer shoulder. A more complicated variation of this stretch, so you can stay here for a couple breaths. Or you can hook, show you this way, your hand over, and do that internal rotation of your shoulder and clasp your fingers, pulling down. Same stretch, it's just a little bit different. And it adds the left shoulder in. Deep breath in. Exhale, release. Roll the shoulders a couple times. Inhale and exhale your left arm across. And we're gonna turn the chin, turn the ribcage, reach through your wrist and hand bones.

Depress your left shoulder a little bit. Stay grounded in your feet. And if you like, you can take that more complicated variation. Internally rotating and clasping fingers, dropping the elbow down. Letting it go and releasing. Turn your palms forward, feel really grounded in your feet. And just let your jaw unhinge. Okay, one more here. Right arm over the left and try to do this with a little bit of momentum. So that that quick wrap will allow you to have your palms maybe find each other. For some people this isn't possible. You can hold on like you're hugging yourself. Here, scoop your elbows forwards and up. And then let your head fall in your biceps. Really breathing into that space in the inner shoulder blades. And it might feel good for a moment to look up here, wherever variation you are. And exhale and relax. Left arm over the right, try to use that momentum. It helps you get into it. Inhale, scoop it up, or hold, hugging yourself. And exhale, head towards the bicep. If you have your outer shoulders, you can pull those shoulder blades, kind of wrap them around into your armpits. If your hands have each other, you can press your hands together for a little bit more intensity in the stretch. Look up for a moment and exhale and release. Beautiful. So this one for the neck, we're gonna take our arms behind and clasp forearms or elbows if you can. And some people actually can take a reverse prayer up the back, which is really nice for mobility in the shoulders if you have that. I'm gonna stay with this one, taking a hold of the elbows. Wherever you're at, ground through your feet. Then exhale, your left ear towards your left shoulder. And we'll play with this. You can tuck your chin down towards your chest, getting into the back fibers of the neck. And then you can even play with, go really gently, turning your chin up and lifting your chin. And then really tenderly drop that before you go over onto the other side. So we're gonna roll over onto the other side. And you can play with tucking your chin. And then turning and lifting up. And then tucking back down, rolling into the center. And letting your head come all the way up. And let your arms go. And now we're gonna come down to sit. So I'm gonna grab my props. Find that easy, comfortable seated position. So finding that position of your hands that feels good. For me right now, I feel like I've just opened up so much my shoulders, my palms want to flip up, and that feels good. You can also have them down or in your lap. Let your head find that perfect teeter-totter balance on top of your spine. So you might nod yes a little bit and slow it down until you feel that weightless or semi-weightless feeling of the skull resting on top of the top of the spine. You can lift the back of the skull slightly. And by dropping the chin and letting the eyes sink down towards the cheekbones, there might be a nervous system calming effect of dropping the gaze and sort of withdrawing the senses. A few grounding breaths here. So inhale, gather your attention into the moment, into the body, into the breath. And exhale, feel your contact with the floor. Nice big breath again. Inhale, tether your attention, shift your focus, and exhale. Get a sense of clarity of your weight, of the support of the earth underneath you. And then start to soften the breath and maybe close the eyes. Let the throat feel open. The chest feels soft. The hips feel heavy. Here you can get a feeling of the eyes being a little bit wider in the skull.

Letting the spaciousness in between the eyes open. Letting the ears feel open. Letting the jaw feel wide and open. Steady and stable in the pelvis and hips. And a little bit. Allowing for whatever's coming up, whatever's arising in your field of awareness. Allowing for it to be there. Allowing for it to rise, to fall away. Allowing everything to be as it is for you to be who you are as you are. Your spaciousness and the absence of resistance.

What would it be like if you just let yourself be? Being isn't doing. And if you're sinking into that a little bit, feeling your energy expand. Seeing yourself taking up more space in a quiet way that feels satisfying. It feels like you don't have to shrink into any mold, any expectation. Maybe you even feel yourself here as big as the room. Maybe even bigger.

Allowing for it to rise, to fall away. Allowing for it to rise, to fall away. Touch back in here to a few deeper breaths. Breathing into the back of the lungs, back of the heart. Just quietly acknowledging the work that you've done for yourself today.

The space that you've created, and that no moment is ever wasted. Drop your chin a couple degrees, let your eyes open, and it might feel good to put your hands in front of your heart. It does for me right now. And I want to thank you so much for being here with me today for this practice. See you next time. Namaste.


Joan J
Lydia, another wonderful practice. So opening for my tight shoulders and neck. I felt the energy flow in my arms and shoulders. Love the meditation, always grateful for your teachings💜
Lydia Zamorano
Joan. Joan Isn't it great to feel those fascial lines open up and free that holding in the neck and shoulders?! Love!
Anne D
Thank you! This really helped. I am sure I'll want to return to it whenever I am on the computer too long!
Lydia Zamorano
Hi Anne Thanks for letting me know! Happy New Year! xo
Stacie C
This was absolutely amazing!! Thank you so much, Lydia!!
Lydia Zamorano
Stacie! So happy you loved it! Thanks for your bright message. xo
Charlotte B
1 person likes this.
Thank you so much! A much needed practice after yesterday's bouldering session and today's work on the computer. And your way of leading the meditation had me on the verge of tears. Thanks for shining bright! 
Lydia Zamorano
Charlotte Hi Charlotte. So happy to hear this worked for you. Thank you for your kind words! 
Fabian H
love this practice:))
Lydia Zamorano
Fabian H So happy to hear that Fabian. It is also one of my go-tos. 
Sending warmth from the Canadian Rockies. Lydia 
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