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5 Restorative Yin Yoga Poses for Neck and Shoulder Pain




You may hear a lot about yoga for back pain, yoga for joint pain, yoga for lots of different types of pain. That’s why we don’t want to leave out yoga for neck and shoulder pain!

Your cervical spine is the most fragile part of your skeletal system! Not only does it hold up your head (about 10-11 lbs!), it is also the least protected of any other part of your body. Think about it. If you’re in a car accident, your neck area is one of the primary areas of injury. 

Many types of accidents can cause injury to your cervical spine. Additionally, your shoulders are connected to your neck area. So injuries to neck muscles often cause pain and misalignment in your shoulders as well.

A yin yoga practice focused on your neck and shoulders is not only beneficial for pain relief from prior injuries, arthritis, or previous surgeries. Yin yoga is great for preventing pain and injury to the neck and shoulder area as well!

Yin yoga alleviates tension in the muscles, helps correct poor posture, and increases flexibility and circulation in the neck and shoulder areas. 

One of our amazing yoga instructors, Supriya, even offers a Yoga for Neck and Shoulders class! Because here at MyYogaTeacher, we know that yoga heals! We offer 1:1 classes with authentic yoga instructors from the birthplace of yoga, India! And if you haven’t experienced virtual private yoga classes yet, MyYogaTeacher makes 1:1 classes affordable and accessible! PLUS, with your membership, you get:

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Let me talk to you about my top 5 yin yoga poses for neck and shoulder pain relief!

Standing forward bend

1. Standing forward bend

Rolling down into standing forward bend, knees bent or straight (depending on your preference), release your head down so the crown of your head faces the ground. This pose is most effective for your neck and shoulders if you relax and sort of dangle and take 5-10 deep breaths. You may also choose to gently sway side to side.

This isn’t traditionally a yin yoga pose because it’s not completely static, but it is restorative and helps stretch your neck, shoulders and back. If you want, you may roll back up to standing or mountain pose and repeat standing forward bend again.]

Thread the needle

2. Thread the needle

This pose provides significant relief from neck and shoulder pain. The twisting from this pose also releases tension in the lower and upper back. Feel free to place a blanket or block under your head if you need some elevation or are uncomfortable. Perform this pose on both sides, holding for 1-2 minutes on each side.

  1. Begin on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.

  2. Lift your right hand up towards the sky and bring it down and underneath your torso to the left along the floor with your palm facing up.

  3. Press your left hand into the floor for support as your rest your body on your right shoulder and look over to the left.

  4. Remain in this position for 1-2 minutes, as tolerated.

  5. Release gently and slowly, pressing back into Child’s Posefor a few breaths, and repeat on the other side.

Half lord of the fishes pose

3. Half lord of the fishes pose

Yin yoga poses for neck and back often benefit other parts of your body as well. This is one such pose! Half lord of the fishes pose provides a great stretch in the upper and lower back and helps alleviate tension in the muscles that result from bad posture.

  1. From sitting, bring your right foot along the floor across to the outside of your left hip.

  2. Plant your right foot on the floor, so that your right knee is pointing up.Your right foot should be “rooted” on the outside of your left thigh.

  3. Bend your left knee so that your left foot is still on the floor but close to your body

  4. Lengthen your spine and then twist your upper body to the left.

  5. Place your left hand on the floor behind your buttocks.

  6. Bring your right arm to the outside of your left leg.

  7. Turn your head to look over either shoulder, or you may gently circle your head.

  8. Stay in this pose for 1 minute.

  9. Then do it on the opposite side.

Triangle pose

4. Triangle pose

Triangle pose stretches the neck, shoulders and upper back. You may use a block under the hand that reaches to the floor for more stability or if you do not have the flexibility to reach the floor. You may also place your hand on your shin or ankle, as long as you maintain proper alignment.

  1. Stand with your feet apart so that they’re wider than your hips.

  2. Turn your right toes towards the front of your mat and your left toes out at an angle.

  3. Raise your arms up so they’re parallel to the floor with your palms facing down, similar to the beginning of Warrior I, but keep your legs straight. Your chest should be facing out.

  4. Keeping your legs straight, reach forward with your right arm as you hinge at your right hip.

  5. Lower your right arm and lift your left arm up toward the ceiling.

  6. Turn your gaze in any direction or you can do gentle neck rotations looking up and down.

  7. Remain in this pose for 1-2 minutes, as tolerated.

  8. Repeat on opposite side.

Child’s pose

5. Child’s pose

Child’s pose is the most popular and an extremely beneficial yoga pose practiced in all types of yoga! In child’s pose, your neck, back, and shoulders are lengthened, creating space between the vertebrae, similar to standing forward bend. This relieves tension and helps realign your neck and spine. 

Placing your arms out in front of you (versus by your sides) gives your shoulders a good stretch as well. You can also place a block or bolster under your head or hips if that is more comfortable. Hold this pose as long as is desired but at least 1-2 minutes.

I hope you find these poses as helpful as I do for relieving neck and shoulder pain! A full yin yoga class is a great option to truly get relief in these areas. We carry so much tension in our neck and shoulders from bad posture, sitting at a computer or desk, or from other types of exercise. I invite you to try one of the many classes and workshops at MyYogaTeacher!

Not a MyYogaTeacher member? Whether you’re interested in teaching yoga, starting yoga, or growing in your yoga journey, MyYogaTeacher is a great place to do it!

When you sign up for a 1:1 membership with us you get:

  • 102 expert, highly qualified yoga instructors to choose from

  • The ability to switch instructors or take classes with only your faves

  • Access to unlimited group classes, taught live

  • Personalized instruction and work out, diet, and lifestyle plans

  • To be a member of a HUGE community of happy yogis from around the world

  • Yoga teachers who become friends, who truly care about you!

If you haven’t checked us out already, grab two free 1:1 sessions with your 2-week free trial here!
Check out our latest article on 5 Yin Yoga Poses to Loosen Your Hips

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