Most of us have tight necks and shoulders. We sit at computers for hours at a time, holding our arms in front of us and craning our necks forward. And we carry things like backpacks and grocery bags, tightening the muscles on top of the shoulders.
Over time, the shoulders start to lift up toward the ears, even when we are at rest. The muscles can start to spasm painfully and increase the general tension in the body. It is difficult to stretch and release them. Massage helps but is temporary.
The best way to release these muscles is to balance them with strength in the muscles under the shoulders, the muscles that push the arms down and hold the arms against the body.
Luckily, this is a simple thing to do, even with just the body's weight. Just sit on the ground with your legs outstretched. Put your hands on the floor next to you. Push down with your hands and lift your butt off the ground. This strengthens the muscles under the shoulder blade that pull the shoulders down. Strength here will balance the shoulder and allow the tops--where the tension lies--to release.
If it seems that your arms aren't long enough to lift your body up, you can put blocks or books under your hands or do the exercise in a chair. The effect is the same.
This movement is essentially the same in the shoulders as postures like Palmstand, Fingerstand and Lifting Lotus, and exercises like dips.
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga. This blog is about their experience with yoga practice, study and teaching.
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