5 Yoga Poses For Your Neck & Shoulders After A Long Day Of Hunching Over Your Laptop
Whether you're spending hours hunched over a computer at work, going hard at the gym without proper stretching, or you're simply stressed AF, tension tends to take up residence right in your neck and shoulders. Like, hi, I did not invite you into my body, and you need to GTFO now, please. The struggle is real, but thankfully, a few simple yoga poses for your neck and shoulders should do the trick to banish tension and keep that upper bod feeling loose and limber no matter what.
Whenever you're hit with a wave of stress, whether it's emotional or physical, it's super common for your neck to tighten up almost instantly. Combine that with sitting for prolonged periods of time in front of a computer as part of your work or school day, and you're creating an overall unpleasant situation for your whole upper body.
Sometimes, it's possible to rearrange your work space in a way that's best for both your comfort and your productivity. For example, a 2014 study showed that doing exactly that could help relieve upper-body soreness and tightness in the long-term.
But let's be real: If you're confined to a cubicle between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or if you're only able to focus on your studies at school by parking your butt in the dusty library for hours on end, rearranging these different spaces may not be all that realistic. Still, you need some relief ASAP.
These five yoga poses are super easy to add into your daily routine, even if you're busy AF most of the time. And hey, even if your schedule is totally slammed, everyone should make time for self-care, don't you think?
1. Ear-To-Shoulder Stretch For Pure, Upper Body Bliss
An ear-to-shoulder stretch is often used at the beginning of a yoga practice to warm up and loosen the upper body for more advanced asanas. It's a gentle and subtle pose, but it provides a huge relief for the body when it comes to tightness and tension stored in the neck.
On your inhale, relax your shoulders and let the tension slowly ooze out on its own. On your exhale, begin to use one hand to gently place pressure on the side of your head.
Remember, less is more here, but if you'd like to deepen the stretch a bit and make it more intense, feel free to apply a little more pressure.
Hold here for about five, slow breaths, and then repeat it on the other side.
2. Thread-The-Needle Pose Will Open Up Those Shoulders
Thread-the-needle pose literally feels like a deep-tissue massage on your shoulders, without having to pay a single cent for that glorious relief. Honestly, I could probably fall asleep while doing this bad boy as it slowly and gently melts all my stress away.
This pose stretches your shoulders, arms, upper back, and neck, and it's super accessible for all bodies, whether you're a beginner at yoga, or even if you've been practicing for years.
Be sure to pay attention to how your body feels as you guide yourself into this stretch. If you don't feel a deep enough release, try raising the arm that's not underneath you and hooking it behind your back.
3. Eagle Arms For When Your Neck Feels Tense As Hell
You might think that this simple stretch is just relieving your shoulders, but it actually works wonders for your neck, as well.
Sit comfortably and breathe deeply as you begin to wrap your right arm under your left. The goal is for your palms to eventually touch, but when you're first starting out, don't be discouraged if they're not there yet. You can even monitor how much your shoulders are opening up over time by paying attention to how close your palms are to touching one another. It'll feel so rewarding to see that progress in your practice.
Hold this pose for a few breaths, and then wrap the opposite arm underneath to balance the stretch.
4. Cat-Cow Pose Will Lengthen And Rejuvenate Your Entire Body
Cat-cow pose gives your neck and shoulders an amazing stretch, while also lengthening your entire spinal column.
Link each movement with your breaths as you flow through the arches and curves of this stretch. Close your eyes, and really observe how each singular motion feels throughout your entire body.
5. Stand Up In Forward Fold To Feel The Tension Melt Away
Standing forward fold seems like it's just a good ol' stretch for the hamstrings, but when it's done a certain way, it'll feel like actual heaven on earth for your shoulders and neck.
Start in a standing position, and inhale deeply. On your exhale, slowly begin to fold your body forward with a flat back. You can keep a slight bend in your knees, because you're not going to be focusing as much on your hamstrings here.
Grab opposite elbows and slowly sway back and forth, making a conscious effort to completely release your head and neck.
Nod your head yes, and then shake it no. Let your entire body rag-doll down over your legs, and enjoy the sweet release of this simple stretch.