How to release neck, shoulders, and back tensions?
Stress and daily struggles cause tensions in the upper body: neck, cervical spine, upper back, middle back, shoulders, etc. Several kinds of yoga stretches help to release tensions in the neck, shoulders, and back, as well as most of the pain, stiffness, and discomfort in the upper body muscles. On top of releasing muscle tensions, these yoga stretches are excellent to relax and feel calm. In this article, you will find a free 17 minutes’ video during which I take you through stretching poses. I also share pictures of the yoga stretches and poses to release your neck, shoulders, and back tensions, and to open the chest.
What causes tensions in the neck, shoulders and back?
Ah, the long working hours!Sitting Slouching the whole day in front of the computer, or instead standing the whole day and running in all directions. Stress increases to the speed of meetings, reports to finish, and liters of coffee consumed. Then comes the pressure to come back home on time to handle personal and family matters (i.e. to empty the cat litter). WHEN ARE THE NEXT HOLIDAAAYYS?? Oh yeah right, not until a few months… If another worldwide pandemic does not see the light of the day by then.
Where do we feel such tensions? For most of us, it is in the neck, shoulders, back, and chest. This is our body sending us the signal that it is time to move, rest or stretch!
Releasing neck, shoulders and back tensions with yoga stretches
Here is a video of upper body stretches to release neck, shoulders, and back tensions. It lasts for 17 minutes. Less time than an episode of Big Bang theory! You can also find this video on my YouTube channel.
If you do not have the time to follow the sequence, you will find below the pictures of the poses that will release your muscle tensions. Choose the poses that are the most beneficial for you, based on where you feel the tensions in your body. When possible, try to spend a minimum of 10 minutes a day for these stretches. Find a quiet place, listen to some music that makes you feel peaceful, and light up some incense or diffuse essential oils. Drugs are prohibited.And the most important part: BREATHE! Take the time to breathe deeply and to feel your chest and abdomen rise and fall.
Yoga poses to release neck, shoulders, back and chest tensions
Yoga stretches to release neck tensions
While stretching your neck, remember to keep a straight back and lower your shoulders. When you look up to the sky, you can let your head drop to the back. However, if you feel compression or pain at the back of your neck, please come back.
I like the first stretch very much, the one where I look at my knee. I apply gentle pressure at the back of my head, and it stretches the right side of the back of the neck. This is usually where I feel some tensions after a night of sleeping on my belly (yes, I know, I should not!).
Yoga stretches to release shoulders’ tensions
The first pose consists of shoulder rotations. Start with this one before you continue with other stretches.
My favorite pose is the 4th one. It is a variation of the puppy pose (2nd picture) where my elbows are bent and rest on blocks. You can do the same pose without the blocs by placing the elbows on the mat. I find the stretch to be deeper with the blocs. In any case, it is a good shoulder and upper body stretch!
The picture in the middle of the bottom row is a downward-facing dog. This pose stretches the back. However, in this variation, I try to lower my head closer to the mat so that it also stretches my shoulders. Keep your knees bent.
Yoga stretches to release back tensions
Back stretches consist of forward-folds, side bends, and twists.
My favorite pose is the one in the middle. The goal is to place the left shoulder on the right side of the mat and twist the chest. More specifically, try to have the chest facing the ceiling! Feet are together, knees open and buttock above the knees.
I also like the 8th pose very much (middle of bottom line). Such a good one to stretch the lower back! Feet are slightly open, and knees are bent if needed. The goal is to have the torso parallel to the mat, with a flat back. Then bring your left arm forward and rotate your torso toward the right side. Repeat the same stretch to the other side.
Yoga stretches to open the chest and release upper back tensions
These stretches are recommended for people who sit the whole day in the office or those who tend to hunch their back.
My favorite poses are the fish poses with the support of the blocs. In the first pose, the bloc is horizontal below the shoulder blades. In the second pose, the bloc is vertical between the shoulder blades. I recommend using only one block (or pillows) for the pose to remain comfortable. The buttock should keep pressing on the mat.
For more yoga stretches
I hope these stretches will help you free your upper body. For more guidance regarding the poses, look at the video!