For many of us, life’s stress and tightness makes a beeline for our heads and necks. This is particularly true for those of us who spend a lot of time sitting at a computer. This tension can cause neck pain, headaches, and limited mobility in the shoulders and head. In this sequence, yoga teacher Gabrielle Marchese guides you through a gentle series of postures that offer quick, soothing relief from this all-too-common discomfort.
Find a comfortable seat. Begin to deepen your breath. Drop your right ear toward your right shoulder. Slowly roll your head through center, then over to the left. Keep your eyes closed and gaze fixed inward toward your third eye center as you move. Keep moving your head in gentle, slow circles for about 5 rounds before switching directions.
Neck Stretch With a Bind
Return your head to center. Interlace your hands at the base of your spine. Press your palms away from your body and bring both hands over to your right hip. Drop your head to the left. Breathe deeply into the right side of your neck and hold for 5–10 breaths. Return to center and switch sides.
Baddha Konasana, variation (Bound Angle Pose)
Bring the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to reach out wide. Press your feet further away from your body until your legs make a diamond shape. Fold over your legs and let your spine deeply flex (round and relax.) Allow your head to be heavy, letting your chin tuck toward your chest. Relax your arms and breathe into your back body. Hold for 10 breaths.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Stand up in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with your feet hip-width apart and parallel. Hinging at your hips and keeping a heavy bend in your knees, fold your torso down to transition into a forward fold. Place blocks underneath your elbows and deliberately allow your head and neck to hang heavy. Relax your shoulders. Hold for 10 breaths.
Tadasana, variation (Mountain Pose)
Release your arms back down to the mat and on an inhale slowly press through your feet and engage your core, returning to Tadasana. Interlace your hands at the base of your spine and press them away from your body as you stretch and breathe into your shoulders. Hold for 5 breaths.
Matsyasana, variation (Fish Pose)
Move onto your back and place a block lengthwise on its lowest setting along your spine, starting at the base of your shoulder blades. Allow your head to relax behind you, releasing the crown of your head toward the mat. Hold and breathe for 10 breaths.
Savasana, variation (Corpse Pose)
Gently press into your elbows to come out of Supported Fish. Make your way onto your back. Place the long edge of your block on its lowest setting at the base of your head. You can stay here and let the weight of your head against the block relax any tension. You can also gently roll your head left and right, massaging out your neck. Hold for 10 breaths.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Remove the block and come to lie on your back. Extend your arms and legs away from your body. Release any control of your breath and let your body become heavy. Relax deeply, staying here for 5–7 minutes. Ease out of this pose gently when you are ready.
Gabrielle Marchese is a writer, yoga instructor, meditation and pranayama teacher, and student of Ayurvedic Medicine. Gabrielle is passionate about empowering others to heal through breath, meditation, and embodied movement. You can find her at gabriellemarchese.com