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Deep sequence for stiff neck and upper back release

A set of poses that are designed to release tension in the neck and upper back.

Contents

Introduction

This is a wonderful, short sequence which helps to release pain or tension in the neck and upper back. It is a favourite amongst the great group of people that help to manage the Yoga Vastu website!

The sequence begins with supta swastikasana and virasana forwards with the arms and wrists to the bolster for deepening opening of the dorsal spine. We then move into some arm stretches from a standing position: udhva baddhanguliyasana, garudasana arms, hands in namaskar.

We then take a bench and step back to half-uttanasana with the arms extended, then hands together over the shoulders and a shoulder-opening pose with the hands behind the back to the support.

We then go to the wall and standing side-on we reach the arm back into 2 positions in order to open the shoulder. We take 2 blocks and position them against the wall and do 2 variations of adho mukha svanasana (dogpose) followed by virasana forwards with hands to the blocks.

We move to the floor and use two blocks and a blanket to move through 3 variations to release the neck, sliding back over the blocks. We then transition through forward virasana before finishing with savasana with a partly-rolled blanket under the curve of the neck for support.

View sequence

Supta Swastikasana
Simple Cross Legs Lying Back
Cross your legs and lie back over support or straight onto your mat.
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.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Press evenly into your hands and feet. The main aim is to elongate the back of your body and lift your hips up as high off the ground as possible without losing the stable foundation created by your hands and feet. If you lack the hamstring flexibility, bend your knees a little.
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.
Neck release over blocks
Place support in the form of blocks or folded up blankets beneath your back all the way from your thoracic to your lumbar spine. Your shoulders and head should be allowed to release down toward the floor. Relax in this pose. Start with knees bent, eventually extending your legs out in front of you. Use support under your head if you feel excess strain in your neck.
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.
Savasana
Corpse Pose
Lie down on the floor. Spread your arms and legs slightly at your side. Relax and concentrate on your breath.