Mindfulness in Motion 10-Day Yoga Challenge Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 9

Day 8: Neck & Upper Body Release

30 min - Practice


In Day 8 we turn our attention to expanding across the chest and opening the front of the shoulders. Many of us unconsciously raise our shoulders and hunch over desks, computers, and phones, causing neck and upper body strain. Pouring our minds into this area of our body, we release tension as we flow through Warrior 2 variations, Side Angle, and simple twists. You will feel loose and relieved.
What You'll Need: Mat


Read Full Transcript

Hey, everybody, welcome to day eight of our 10 day yoga challenge with me. And today we're going to be focusing a little more on the front of the shoulders. So nothing is needed for the practice. So when you're ready, take a moment, we're going to begin in the seat. And as you set up, I want you to make it as comfortable as you need it as you can make it.

Okay, so if legs pulled in, feel fine, allow yourself to kind of draw the legs in a little close to the body. And if you want to stretch the legs a little more into the mat, that might feel good as well. And as long as you're comfortable and you can maintain where you are, okay, hands to the thighs, or if it feels good to pull the palms together, you got in front of the heart, maybe up top of the hood, okay, wherever you rest, allow it to be a space where you actually do that, right? Like rest and feel a little more into that, right? Start to notice where in the body where you feel a little lifted.

And if you can kind of be a little softer, right, just a little heavier into the mat, like the seat kind of ground a little bit more into the floor. All right, and then shoulders, especially today, like common feeling is like tense shoulders up to the neck, right? For today, draw the shoulders down and back for every day, but for today, especially, right? Soften that area, open that space, all right, take a deep inhale, all right, and it's just slow, smooth exhale. Do that one more time, inhale up without lifting the shoulders, and then as you exhale, let that help you relax them down a little more.

Nice, okay, eyes float open. Okay, so we're going to begin right on first, right? I want you to make a fifth, right, and then swing that arm around and behind the back, so your forearm is placed somewhere along like low back, mid back section, okay? Left hand, it's going to reach over to the right side of the head, all right, and once you got that grip, let the head fall over to the left shoulder a little bit more, okay? So feeling with that back arm, we're going to make this a little bit active so we can get into that front shoulder, I want you to squeeze into the fist a little bit, all right, and then press that forearm forward into the body, and then feel as if you can pull that front shoulder back and down a little more towards the mat, nice, okay?

So you might start to already feel that feeling of like opening and release, but keep that focus there, and then let the head fall to also get into the neck, okay? If it helps, that top hand can be heavy, all right, I'm not asking you to like crank the head though, like we don't want to like open and pull on the neck, all right, but that top hand can be heavy, you can imagine yourself just lifting up against that hand a little bit, nice, okay, draw the shoulder down a little bit more away from the ear, take a big inhale, nice, as you exhale, release the hand, head on straight, again, back arm comes undone, good, okay, so again, if it feels nice, free movement, all right, shoulders can kind of roll and get a little shimmy in there, all right, but take anything that feels nice along the neck, anything that feels nice along upper body and arms, okay, and then second side when you're ready, left hand, we make that fist, swing around in behind, all right, and again, forearm is up on the back, I don't want it to be like cranked up too high, it could just be somewhere along the lower body, okay, and then hands, excuse me, lower back, right hand over to the left side of the head, and then let the head fall towards the shoulder, all right, and again, just to make it a little active so we can focus and feel the shoulder a little more, all right, squeeze through the fist, you're going to press firm into the back, right, so make that like active, you want to feel that work, and then with that effort, we pull back and down, so we open front of the shoulder, good, all right, let the head relax towards the right arm, all right, and again, not too crazy up top, no pull, all right, but a little lift to support the neck as we open up front of the shoulder, nice, okay, take one more inhaling, nice, as you exhale, release through the hands, take a movement, good, all right, and then slowly transition into the down dog on the mat, roll forward onto the hands, step back onto both feet, nice, okay, and a little bit of free movement in your down dog before we step to the top, so whatever feels nice, all right, feel what you want to move through, you might start with the legs, it's an easy place to start, right, pedal out the heels, bend the knees, right, I've been a fan lately of kind of pressing my chest back towards my thighs, so if that feels nice, big bends in the knees, you might keep that as you extend through the legs, whatever feels good, you know your body, nice, all right, and then from here, you're going to bend your knees, look forward in between both hands, and then slowly walk the feet to the top of the mat, you're going to arrive in your forward fold, good, and then try to soften everything at the top of the mat down to the floor, all right, so take a moment to feel that release throughout the body, all right, and if it helps to release to kind of move a little gently, you're welcome to it, so if you want, bend the knees a couple of times, take a little bit of that movement into the legs, all right, it could also feel nice to shake the head a little yes and no here too, just to feel that same kind of open release around the neck, all right, and especially today if you want, maybe you interlace the fingers behind the back, all right, punch a little more towards the ceiling, just to again continue that opening across the front of the shoulders, all right, and again, let all that feeling, all that sensation just kind of pull your attention down into the body, nice, okay, take another deep inhale, exhale, release what you have, all right, so as you inhale, come up for half lift, so your hands see your thighs or your calves, whatever feels comfortable, right, and it feel even in your half lift, shoulders are not crunched up towards the ears, you still got that space to draw them back to release the neck, okay, take a big inhale, you draw up, pose in, and as you exhale, fold, release the body all the way down, good, right, as you inhale, stand all the way up, mountain pose, stretch through the standard, and as you exhale, hands to the sides of the body as we pause, all right, taking a pause so we can pull the awareness back into the breath, all right, take a deep inhale in, slow smooth exhale out, good, all right, do that one more time, inhale to feel what fills up, and exhale to release what doesn't need to be active, good y'all, okay, so keeping that focus in the breath, we're gonna move through salutations, but just matching that rhythm a little bit with the movement, okay, one more time, inhale, arms forward and up, nice, as you exhale, pull forward over the front of the legs, good, all right, as you inhale, half lift, reminder to pull the shoulders back, good, as you exhale, soften and release, we let that go, right, as you inhale, stand all the way up, stretch all the way through the hands, nice, as you exhale, let the hands soften to the sides, there we go, okay, one more time, breathing a little deeper, inhale, big breath, stretch up, nice, as you exhale, try to slow down a little bit and ride that entire breath to the fold, okay, right, as you inhale, half lift, take some time, nice, as you exhale, forward fold, and again, no rush, right, as you inhale, stand all the way up, try to lengthen that breath as you rise, nice, as you exhale, soften through the arms and hands, okay, one more time, all right, maybe you close your eyes, take a big inhale, arms up, good, as you exhale, again, feel the release throughout the body, the neck, the arms, everything soft, good, as you inhale, half lift, feel the shoulders pull back and away from ears, and as you exhale, soften, one more time, again, we release, we let go, nice, as you inhale, stand all the way up, stretching from feet to hands, take as much as you can take, nice, as you exhale, hands to the sides of the body, okay, keeping that focus, one Sunday, parent as we move through up dog, down dog, okay, so one more time, inhale, arms forward and up, nice, as you exhale, soften, release everything down to the floor, nice, as you inhale, half lift, open up through the neck, good, as you exhale, take both hands to the mat, step both feet back, pause and then plank, okay, reminder, all right, if you need any extra support, right, the knees, not just in plank, but throughout the entire practice throughout the flow, you can move through that as well, okay, so if your legs are straight, maintain it, all right, press the floor away and then feel even here, no crunch, draw back, extend a little through the neck, okay, inhale, exhale, come halfway down, nice, inhale over the toes, up dog, lift through the heart, but keep those shoulders pulled away from ears, nice, as you exhale, down dog, lifting up and back through the hips, nice y'all, all right, so softening for a moment, allow yourself to come to a consistent kind of calm breath, right, like moving through your body, you'll be challenged like breath especially, right, but if you can practice this awareness of knowing when we're being pulled, notice when that resistance is showing up and then feeling that you can ground your awareness in the breath or just a little deeper into the parts of the body we focus on, okay, so shoulders, right, feel your shoulders right now, right, are you holding that tension, can you release some of that work, nice, okay, keeping that awareness you're going to inhale, left leg up and back, nice, as you exhale step forward in between the hands, setting up warrior two, so back heel down, right, heart is open to the right, arms are out to the sides, nice, okay, so again taking a breath to arrive, right, you're still here you're in warrior two but the breath is still consistent, right, and then simple warrior two but for today we're going to flip the palms up, okay, and just feeling that difference, right, when the shoulders are rolled in we're closing the fronts but for today with the palms up we give yourself that space to open and then just emphasizing that reach a little bit more just imagine creating a little bit of space across the fronts of shoulders, okay, reaching through fingertips it might feel nice to close eyes, right, but again stretching across the top part of the body, take a big inhale reach through the hands, nice, as you exhale hands on the mat, down dog, hips up and back, nice, okay, following the breath, inhale plank pose, nice, exhale halfway down and then up dog, inhale over the toes, shoulders roll back and down, good, right, down dog, hips up, pause in for a breath, nice, okay, one more time second side, inhale right leg up and back, right, and as you exhale step forward for warrior two, right, back heel to the mat, heart open, arms long, good y'all, right, so again feel for a moment that you can just acknowledge and take in your normal warrior two, normal, okay, but again just adding in that little element of change, flip the palms up and then feel that front part of, excuse me, front space of the shoulders kind of relax and open towards where the chest is, okay, keeping that active, maybe you close your eyes but feel that feeling of reaching to incorporate a little more space, all right, and again letting that sensation ground your attention, take a big inhale stretch through the hands, nice, exhale hands on the mat, down dog we step it back, all right, full flow if you want to flow or if you want to pause in down dog, good option if you need to catch breath, nice y'all, all right, exhale hips up and back and we slow down, nice, all right, from here bend your knees look forward in between hands and then slowly walk or hop to the top of your mat, forward fold, good, we arrive, all right, as you inhale half lift, inhale soften and release, we let go, all right, inhale all the way up to stand and take as much time as you need, nice, and then as you exhale let the hands relax by your sides, nice, all right, pausing for a breath just to pull the attention back in, take a deep inhale, all right, let the exhale remind you you can soften your shoulders, all right, draw them down and back a bit, nice, okay, and one more time as you inhale arms forward and up we're going to reach, nice, as you exhale fold and come down over front of the legs one more time, okay, so in this forward fold I want you to take the feet a little wider on the mat, okay, you don't have to like go crazy but as long as they're not like side by side, okay, and then you're going to start with left knee first, right, take your left hand in between both feet and then you're going to bend that left knee a little more onto that left side, all right, ground to do this right leg I want you to push into the mat and then imagine as if you're taking like half lift, lift the heart forward and up away from hips, okay, keeping that as much as you can, inhale stretch your right arm towards the ceiling, right, this can be a perfect place to pause, allow yourself again to just feel top shoulder rolling down and back, you might also reach back if you want to take your arm that way, if you want to work a little more your choice that tap arm can come behind the back similar to what we did earlier you might grab the inside of the thigh or even if your hand doesn't make it all the way in that fist across the low back is fine, okay, whatever you have you're going to press either into your back or you're pressing into that inner leg and then continue to roll that top shoulder back and down so you keep making that space to open front of the shoulder, all right, if it feels nice you might close your eyes and just let your mind focus on that sensation, all right, keeping that attention heart lifts up a little bit more and then just breathe with the opening of the shoulder, nice, okay, take a big inhale one more time, nice, as you exhale release what you have forward fold let the body come down, all right, taking an extra moment to remind yourself the feeling of like softer neck, all right, remind yourself that feeling of less effort, nice, okay, so same thing on the opposite side, all right, so taking that right hand in between both the feet, big bend in the right leg, little firm in that left leg straighten out as you push into the foot, nice, all right, inhale lift the heart up for like a half live vibe, all right, and then maintaining that left arm stretches up towards the ceiling, right, and again this is fine, don't feel like you have to do anything more if that's not what your body is allowing, so just keeping that reach through the top arm and maybe you come back a little bit so the front of the shoulder can again open, if you got that space and it feels good to carry on a little further, back hand to the leg, good, right, inner thighs fine again unless you're making that fist you can also bring it to the low back the way we practiced earlier, okay, whatever you have you're pressing into something, push and then roll that top shoulder back and down, right, and again that feeling that we get in that arm is just grounding your awareness, so stay right there, all right, close your eyes with that feeling, maintain if that is where you want to be, all right, heart up a little more if you lost it, all right, relax that top shoulder back one more time, deep inhale, nice as you exhale release through that top arm, forward fold all the way down, nice, all right, take your time inhale for half lift, nice as you exhale hands on the mat, down dog we step it back, all right, full flow if you're taking it unless you're pausing in dog and that is also a great choice, nice, all right, remind yourself, right, down dog shoulders relaxed, all right, and also one of those things that is just so common like sometimes we get comfortable intention that it feels like the normal, right, to be tense is to be normal, right, and then relax and shoulders might feel so foreign that it's actually a challenge, so just let that be a practice today, okay, inhale left leg up and back, nice, as you exhale step forward in between both hands, warrior two one more time so back heel down, right, heart opens to the right, arms stretch out by the sides, good, okay, feeling for a moment, normal, okay, then palms flip up for a bit, all right, subtle change but just feeling that little subtle difference in the shoulders as we roll them open, okay, all right, so from here taking inhale stretch through the arms of hands a bit and as you exhale take that front hand down to the mat on the inside of that front leg, top arm up for your side ankle, nice, all right, and then feeling for a moment before we add our more, you can work that bottom arm against that, excuse me, against the inside of that bottom leg to help you roll the chest open continuing to make some space up in that front right shoulder, okay, so yeah maybe back, you know, all good, all right, take a deep inhale stretch up and then slowly release that hand behind your back, you might have half bind here too, so maybe inside of the thigh or you make that fist across low back like we did earlier, okay, whatever you have press into it, roll that top shoulder back and down, good, okay, and again if you want to add that little bit of work in that bottom arm that might feel nice to support but whatever you can, excuse me, if you can feel, right shoulder open, all right, keep that focus, okay, big inhale, nice, as you exhale release the top hand down, down dog, step it back, all right, flowing if you're flowing, pausing if that's the better choice, nice, all right, take your time, all right, same thing right side, inhale right leg up and back, good, as you exhale step forward in between both hands, warrior two, take a moment to arrive, nice, all right, and if you can start to notice the way, like the tendencies of how you think, okay, what's the first thing that pops into your mind when you arrive into a pose, all right, and maybe the practice today is just grounding attention, so relax your shoulders, every time I come into warrior two I'm gonna relax my shoulders, right, good, flip the palms up, take a big inhale stretch across the heart and as you exhale front hand down to the mat on the inside of that front leg, top arm towards the ceiling, all right, again if it feels nice, that support for me, I'm a fan of just that bottom arm working against the inside leg, so as you push let that turn the heart open and that also might help that top shoulder roll back a bit more, right, if you want back arm, top arm, excuse me, behind the back, either grabbing the inside of the thigh or making that fist pressing against the back, okay, push into whatever your, however you're arriving, so either you're pressing into the thigh or the back, but then you're helping that roll that top shoulder back and down, good, okay, if that bottom arm working against the leg supports that, feel free to add, all right, but again all your focus is on what you're feeling in that shoulder, nice, okay, take a deep inhaling, exhale, release that top arm down and then step back for down dog, nice, take a flow, nice, all right, stay soft for a moment, all right, again the movement will challenge how you breathe, it will challenge what you pay attention to, all right, but your job on the mat, your job in this practice is to just keep that focus in your body, so not allowing yourself to just be too distracted, right, like it'll happen, but when you notice it, the work is to come back, okay, slowly taking knees down to the mat, all right, and you're going to slowly transition to a seat, right, so legs are going to extend along on the mat for a moment, all right, and after you move the legs for a bit, all right, bend your right knee, so the sole of your right foot is on the mat, just going to take that right leg over to the opposite side of the left leg, all right, and keeping that, this can be a perfectly like fine position to set up, if you feel you want to draw that bottom leg in a little bit, I'm not opposed to pulling that heel in a little closer as well, okay, right hand, you're going to bring behind the seat a little further away from your back on the mat, all right, and then left elbow is going to cross on top of the right knee, nice, right, and if you're even here, right, as you press through that back arm, you're going to lift through the heart, but you're going to roll that back shoulder back and down, same feeling we've been working through class, okay, so feel, press that back arm down, inhale, lift through the chest, and as you exhale, roll that top shoulder, excuse me, back shoulder back and down to help you incorporate that twist, all right, and then just maintaining that, right, maybe you press through that left arm, take a big inhale chest lifts a little more, but again not collapsing in that front of the shoulder, rolling to open it back and down, nice, take one more inhale, press the floor away and lift, nice as you exhale, all the way back to the middle, right, release the arms, release the legs, and if it feels good to kind of move in between, you can, okay, second side, bend your left knee, shoulder to the left foot on the mat, and again just crossing on top of the opposite side, and if you feel like one side of your body, like pulling this bottom leg in was really easy and the opposite side is a little different, don't force, okay, again we're here to listen, but we're also here to just feel and not bypass what like shows up, it's good information to study and learn, all right, so maybe this is different, maybe this bottom leg is straight, perfectly fine, left hand behind the seat, right elbow on top of left knee, all right, feeling for a moment that you can press through that back arm, inhale, lift the heart, and as you exhale, roll in the shoulder back, good, okay, one more time, inhale, work through that right arm a little bit as well, and as you exhale, roll back to that top shoulder, a little flexed, nice, all right, take one more inhale here, lift through the heart, and as you exhale, back to the center, all right, release the arms, release the legs, again, whatever movement in between supports, all right, and from here, you can, simple, and in my mind, I'm like pancake flip, I say that every time I flip my body, but you don't have to think about pancakes, I'm passionate about pancakes apparently, so belly, find your way onto the belly, find your way onto the chest, okay, and in the hands, you're gonna bring onto the mat, close to the chest, all right, we're gonna start with the right hand first, you're gonna stretch that out to the side, all right, and personal preference for me, like I don't mind where you go up top here, but as long as you don't draw your arm like below shoulder level, I feel like that's the safest thing you could do for your shoulder, because you're putting a lot of weight there, right, so if you want, higher than the shoulder level, shoulder level is cool, you also bend the elbow if that feels nice as well, okay, and before we roll over, I want you to press down through the inside of your arm, so feel like there's a little bit of active work there, keep that, you're gonna push maybe into that left hand to roll over, and then bringing that left leg back a little bit behind you, you can bring the sole of your foot to the mat or let it hang, your choice, all right, but continue to press through that right arm, so you start to open and engage that front shoulder, nice, okay, this is one of my favorite stretches, I can like literally like chill here for a while, but if it feels nice, close your eyes, register the sensations and try to stay, and if it doesn't feel like a day on the beach for you, all right, don't force anything, but allow yourself to just bring some awareness to your response to the work, okay, press the inside down one more time, deep inhale, nice, and as you exhale onto the chest, okay, take a moment, pull that right arm into the body, all right, any second side, so right hand stays close to the chest, left arm stretches out to the side, and again maybe micro bend, but again just not low, okay, and then a little press through the inside of that left arm, keep that work, you're gonna ground through that right hand and roll over, nice, okay, so if anything that press is a lot more supportive than to just lay on the inside of the arm, so like we can be passive here and that's perfectly fine, but for today if you can engage a little bit, really supportive for the shoulders, really good to prevent injury, all around beneficial, okay, press that arm one more time, inhale, nice, and as you exhale, slowly come onto the chest, this time let the arms relax by your sides, chin on the mat if that feels comfy, okay, and in simple transition, hand to the mat, right, you're just gonna flip over onto the back, however you manage to make it over, right, don't make it too complicated, all right, and simple shavasana setup, all right, so legs are stretched out a little bit more, if you can you might flex your toes a little back towards your head just to remind yourself to get long through the back of the legs, all right, arms are relaxed, and especially today I feel that you can again draw shoulders down and away from both ears, and then just take these last few moments of your practice to release the work, okay, and that might take a little more time than you might anticipate, all right, but little by little start to hone in on those spots of the body where you're holding the work, where you're holding the effort, if you can just click off maybe one thing at a time, feel each part of your body relax a little softer into the mat. Nice, okay, on your next exhale, if you can just press a little more. More of the air out of your body, take a nice big inhale, now as you exhale just exaggerate a little on the release, let that move into the body as well, all right, a little bit of movement in the hands start to flex through the fingers, all right, motion through the feet and toes, always welcome, all right, just keep it simple and small, and you're going to gently pull the knees up into the chest, all right, wrap the arms around both legs for a moment, give yourself a squeeze, and roll over to the right side of your body, all right, if you want you can take that right arm up underneath the head, and then slowly pressing up to a seat, all right, maybe you keep the eyes closed, I would hope that you can stay soft and gentle, all right, and hands on the thighs, maybe a little closer to the knees or if you want to press the palms, that's a great way to end as well, all right, and feeling for a moment before you rush back into the movement of your day, that you can take a breath, maybe two, all right, just to remind yourself of this pause, this feeling, this practice that we work to connect to a little deeper, all right, and as always, I'm grateful, thank you for sharing, and thank you for this space to connect, namaste.


2 people like this.
I like the shoulder stretch in a prone position. It feels good.
2 people like this.
Such sweetness in this practice . Thank you
2 people like this.
This practice is a great antidote for the chronic rounded shoulder position that we are constantly dragged into with our various devices : ) So good to find that openness in the upper chest : ) Great practice, Quamay - thank you!
3 people like this.
Hi Kate M! Looks like we were almost in sync again with our practice today 😉 Quamay, I agree with all my fellow yogis here - this was great. I’m also noticing the cumulative effects of these practices: I’m feeling much lighter, stronger, and less “up in my headspace” as the days go by…thank you 🙏🏻
I've enjoyed in today's twists and shoulder stretches! Thanks, Quamay! Namaste! 🥰☀️🌼
Thank you for your warm practice, my shoulders loved it

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Yoga Anytime Logo

Just Show Up

Over 2,900 yoga and meditation practices to bring you Home.

15-Day Free Trial