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Easy Yoga For Tight Shoulders & Neck

Do you suffer from tight shoulders and neck? Shoulder injuries and a stiff neck can be a real pain in the… well, neck! Whether from poor posture, too much time sitting at a computer, a sports-related injury, a fall, or simply dealing with the stress of everyday life, easy yoga postures are a great way to relax tight shoulders and neck and regain range of motion.

In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of easy yoga for tight shoulders and neck that will not just eliminate your pain but also help you feel less dressed and more grounded.

Causes of Tight Shoulders & Neck

In today’s fast-paced world, many of us find ourselves hunched over desks, staring at screens, and carrying the weight of daily stress in our shoulders and neck.

Other common culprits include muscle strain from poor posture, sleeping in an awkward position, stress, and underlying medical conditions like arthritis or cervical spondylosis.

The tension that builds up in these areas can lead to discomfort, pain, and even headaches. Fortunately, incorporating simple yoga practices into your routine can be a game-changer.

Before diving into rehabilitation techniques, it’s good to understand the potential causes of a stiff neck. Identifying the root cause can help tailor your rehabilitation efforts for optimal results.

Poor Posture

Poor posture is a common contributor to a stiff neck. To prevent future episodes, pay attention to your posture throughout the day. Maintain a neutral spine while sitting at your desk, and be conscious of your head position when using electronic devices. Investing in an ergonomic chair and regularly adjusting your workstation can make a significant difference in reducing neck strain.

Too Much Stress

Stress is often a hidden culprit behind a stiff neck. Incorporating stress management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga, can help reduce muscle tension and anxiety. Taking breaks throughout the day to relax and destress is crucial for maintaining overall neck health.

Remedies in Addition to Yoga

Massage, self-massage, or myofascial release using a tennis or lacrosse ball can help release tension in the muscles surrounding the neck. Massage helps release the sterno clino mastoid, which is the muscle in the front of the neck that often gets tight from a forward head.

Breathwork is also a great way to reduce tension in tight shoulders and neck. Place your hands on your belly to make sure you are expanding and relaxing the belly and not breathing into the neck and shoulders.

Establishing a good morning and evening routine can also do wonders for decreasing stress and encouraging those tight shoulders and neck to relax.

Additionally, heat therapy, such as warm compresses or hot showers, can relax tight muscles and improve blood circulation, promoting faster healing.

Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is not about being flexible in body, it’s about being flexible in mind and improving self-awareness. Don’t limit yourself by being too attached to what your poses look like.  Use the time on your mat to connect with your breath and let go of the ruminating thoughts that might be weighing you down.

Related: Understanding The 8 Limbs of Yoga

Tips Before Getting Started With Yoga

The breath matters more than the form

The biggest benefit you can get from yoga is learning to breathe deeper.  When holding these poses, it’s important to only go so deep that you can still regulate your breath work.  If you find yourself struggling to breathe deeply or holding your breath, you are going too far.

Steady the breath

Seal the lips and breathe slowly through your nose taking about 5 seconds on the inhale and matching it with 5 seconds on the exhale.  On the exhale, think about releasing tension and relaxing the muscles especially the smaller muscles of the neck, face, and jaw.  I like to think of softening when I’m holding each pose. With practice, you will feel like the breath is helping you melt deeper into each posture.


For this sequence, it is nice to have a:

Use Good Posture When Holding Yoga Poses

  • Align the ears with the shoulders by thinking of lengthening the vertebrae in back of the neck
  • Draw the shoulder blades down your back and towards each other
  • Keep the spine long, especially through the neck
  • Lift the chin slightly without losing the length in the back of the neck
  • Draw the belly in toward the spine by thinking of bringing the lower ribcage together slightly
  • Tuck the pelvis under so that your tailbone is pointing slightly down toward the floor

How Long To Hold Each Yoga Pose

Hold each pose for 3 to 5 breaths. You can also turn this into a yin-type practice and use blankets, bolsters, or blocks so that you can hold some of the poses comfortably for 3-5 minutes.

8 Easy Yoga Postures For Tight Shoulders & Neck

Let’s explore some easy yoga poses that can help alleviate tight shoulders and neck, bringing relaxation and rejuvenation to your day.

Thread the Needle

From a tabletop position, reach your right arm under your left arm, threading it through, and lower your right shoulder to the mat. This pose targets the upper back and shoulders, providing a deep stretch to release built-up tension.

Yoga For Tight Shoulders and Neck

Prone Chest Stretch

Start with the right arm extended at a 90 degree angle on the right side of your mat (step 1). Use the left hand to peel your chest off the mat, rolling towards your right arm (step 2). Option to step your left foot behind you to deepen the stretch. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths then switch to the other side.

Step 1

Neck Stretches With A Strap

Grab your strap and stand on it with your right foot. Hold the strap so that your right arm is completely extended. Gently tilt your head to one side and breathe into the stretch. Be mindful not to force the stretch; instead, let gravity and your breath guide the movement.

Then, play around with different angles like pointing your chin towards your left shoulder or turning your gaze upward. You can also add a gentle neck rotation for a more comprehensive release. Move slowly and with your breath for at least one minute before switching to the other side.

Cow Face Stretch (Gomukhasana)

This one is intense so only try it if you feel like you’ve opened up your hips and shoulders enough with the other postures. If it’s too much, skip it. The full expression of the posture looks like the photo below.

Start on your hands and knees, placing a block under where you will be sitting back down. Tuck the left knee behind the right knee. Point both feet away from each other, then sit back down on the block (if your hips are very open, you can just sit on the floor).

While sitting or standing tall, hold the strap in the left hand over your head. With the thumb of the right hand pointing toward your body, reach back and grab the other end of the strap. Walk your hands towards each other until you feel a gentle stretch in the shoulders. Also, try to keep the ears in line with the shoulders so the neck stays long. If your shoulders are very open, you should be able to get your left elbow all the way behind your head. If your shoulders are tight (like mine) it may not be possible and that is fine.

Eagle Arms (Garudasana Arms)

Sit or stand comfortably and cross your right arm over the left, bringing your palms together. Lift your elbows to shoulder height, feeling a stretch across the upper back and shoulders. Hold for a few breaths, then switch sides. This pose enhances flexibility and releases tension in the shoulders.

Crescent Lunge with Eagle Arms

Arm Circles With Strap

Hold the strap in both hands out in front of you. From here, you will keep holding the strap while circling the arms overhead and behind you. Move slowly and adjust your hands to a width that allows you to rotate your shoulders while also getting a stretch in the chest and front delt. I like to stop at my sticking points and hold them for a few breaths to help loosen it up. Spend a minute here moving the arms and even rotating side to side if that feels good.

Embryo Pose To Rabbit Pose

In a kneeling position sit your hips on your heel, like child’s pose but knees and heels touching. Rest your arms beside your legs. Let your forehead rest heavy on the mat. Take 5 long breaths. Move into rabbit pose by grabbing hold of your heels, bringing your chin to your chest, and then lifting your hips up to roll onto the top of your head. Pull gently on your heels to get a stretch on the back of your neck.

Supine Chest Opener

Place a block lengthwise on its lowest side so that when you lie back, the block is under the ribcage about where a bra strap would be. Lie back on the block allowing the arms to rest out to the sides. If this is too intense, you can place another block or a blanket under the head.

Not a Fan of Yoga? Try These Videos:

Follow the videos below where Victor guides you through movement patterns to help you with your tight shoulders and neck.

Using gentle stretching and relaxing Chi Gong movements will help, focus first on shift your body into a parasympathetic state, which will activate your body’s rest and restore system. This is super important for getting those tight shoulders and neck to relax.


Incorporating these easy yoga poses into your daily routine can make a significant difference in alleviating tight shoulders and neck discomfort. Consistency is key, so aim to practice these poses regularly to enjoy the full benefits.

As you move through these gentle stretches, remember to listen to your body, breathe deeply, and let go of the accumulated stress. With a commitment to self-care through yoga, you’ll not only find relief from tension but also cultivate a sense of inner peace and well-being.

Related: Bulletproof Your Shoulders With This Shoulder Rehab Workout (coming soon)

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