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Alleviating stiffness in the neck and upper back

A short morning sequence to help you release stiffness, especially in the upper back.

Contents

Introduction

A 30-minute sequence for when you’re feeling stiff in the upper back. Great for when you’re feeling a bit immobile in the morning after waking up or after a day in front of the computer.

We start the sequence in Supta Baddha Konasana followed by Virasana forwards.

We do some standing work with the arms in Tadasana starting with Baddhanguliyasana, Garudhasana, Namaskar and Urdhva Hastasana.

Then we come away from Tadasana and move into Half Utthanasana using a support. We take a block and take the elbows to the support and work in a couple of different variations: holding the block with fingers upwards and then moving it down to the upper thoracic.

We return to Virasana forwards and Adho Mukha Svanasana before progressing to some sitting poses. Parvatasana in Virasana, Gomukhasana (with the belt for support) and Dandasana.

We take a bolster and move to Baddha Konasana with the back to the wall to lift the spine and release the groin.

Simple cross-leg twist follows, using a block where needed. We move to a fully reclined position (supine Tadasana) using a belt to extend through the arms and release the shoulders. Staying on the floor, we move into Supta Padanghustasana 1, using the belt around the big toe and sliding the hands down the belt to extend through the side chest and open the back of the legs. Supta Padanghustasana 2 follows with the belt around the big toe and under the shoulder blade.

We finish with Savasana over two blocks to open the chest and restore energy.

View sequence

Supta Baddhakonasana
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Join your feet together, your heels pressed to your pelvis. Lie back over a bolster or other form of support. Relax and let your chest open. If necessary, use a strap to hold your feet in place.
Virasana Forward
Downward-Facing Hero Pose
Join your feet together under your buttocks and keep your knees far enough apart for your ribs to fit in between your legs as you fold forward. You can rest your forehead on the floor or on a block.
Tadasana
Mountain Pose
Stand up tall and straight, place your feet close together, with your heels and big toes touching. Imagine as if you are standing with your back against the wall. Extend your whole body from the heels up through the crown of your head.
Urdhva Baddanguliyasana
Upward Salute with Interlocked Fingers
Stretch your arms in front of you and interlock your fingers. Turn your palms inside out and lift your arms up overhead, making sure to keep your shoulders open. Change the interlock of your fingers and repeat.
Garudasana
Eagle Pose
Sit your hips back into Utkatasana (Chair Pose). Cross one leg over the other and balance. Then, cross your arms at the elbows so that both your pinkies are pointing forwards. Then try to lift your hands to capacity while keeping your shoulders level and chest open.
Paschima Namaskar
Reverse Prayer Pose
Stand in Tadasana and spread your arms outward. Then bring your hands behind your back, join your palms together, and walk them up to capacity. If you lack wrist mobility, you can also simply grab hold of your elbows.
Half Uttanasana
Half Forward Bend
Stand in front of a wall. Keeping your back and legs straight, tip from your pelvis until your chest is parallel to the ground. Push your hands into the wall and stretch your hips backwards.
Tadasana
Mountain Pose
Stand up tall and straight, place your feet close together, with your heels and big toes touching. Imagine as if you are standing with your back against the wall. Extend your whole body from the heels up through the crown of your head.
Virasana Forward into Adho Mukha Svanasana
Forward Facing Hero Pose into Downward Facing Dog Pose
Back and forward transition from Virasana Forward to Adho Mukha Svanasana. Change poses on the breath, attempt to go deeper into each pose with every repetition.
Alleviating stiffness in the neck and upper back
Hero Pose
Fold your legs under you with your heels on either side of your buttocks. Keep your back straight, avoid sinking forward or back. This pose is to be avoided if you lack mobility in your knee joints due to injuries. Cross your legs instead or assume the Baddha Konasana position.
Parvatasana in Virasana
Mountain Pose in Hero Pose
Sit in Virasana, stretch your arms out in front of you, and interlock your fingers. Turn your palms outward and, keeping your shoulders down and ribs in neutral, extend your arms upward.
Gomukhasana Arms
Cow Face Pose
Extend your left arm up and the right one down. Bend your elbows and reach your hands toward each other from behind. If clasping them is not possible, use a belt or strap. Pull your elbows in opposite directions. Repeat on both sides.
Dandasana
Staff Pose
Point your sit-bones down and extend your spine upwards through the crown of your head. Use support under your buttocks or bend knees if needed to get your back straight.
Baddha Konasana
Bound Angle Pose
Bring your feet as close as possible to your pelvis and join them together. Straighten your back and let gravity pull your knees down toward the floor. If necessary, use a strap to hold your feet in place.
Simple Cross Legs Twist
Sit with your legs crossed and back straight. Place your hand onto the opposing knee and, staying tall through the crown of your head, look over your shoulder as you twist.
Supta Padangusthasana I
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Press your back body into the floor, point the kneecap and toes of your supine leg toward the ceiling, as you extend the other leg up over your hip. Use a belt if needed.
Supta Padangusthasana II
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Lie down on your back. Point kneecap and toes on your left leg upward, as you stretch your right leg out to the side. Use a belt if necessary. Change sides.
Savasana
Corpse Pose
Lie down on the floor. Spread your arms and legs slightly at your side. Relax and concentrate on your breath.