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    Stiffness in neck and shoulder? 6 yoga stretches to increase range of motion

    By NCVC Staff | Published on Sep 22, 2023

    Are you familiar with that feeling of stiffness in your neck and shoulders? It’s a common issue caused by long hours spent sitting at desks or staring at screens, not to mention the weight of daily stress. However, there’s an ancient solution to this problem – yoga. By incorporating specific yoga poses into your routine, you can increase your range of motion in the neck and shoulders, relieving tension and stiffness while enhancing a sense of ease and well-being.

    We spoke to Mansoor Baluch, a renowned yoga coach based in Mumbai, to discover which yoga poses are effective in combating neck and shoulder pain. Baluch states that practicing certain yoga stretches can eliminate stiffness, improving your ability to concentrate and work efficiently throughout the day.

    Yoga Poses to Relieve Neck and Shoulder Tightness

    Here are six simple yoga poses that can increase your range of motion and provide relief from tightness in the neck and shoulders.

    1. Eagle Pose (Garudhasana)

    The Eagle Pose is not only excellent for improving focus and balance, but it also enhances mobility and flexibility in the upper body.

    How to do it:

    • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
    • Extend your arms straight in front of you at shoulder height.
    • Cross your right arm over your left arm, palms touching if possible.
    • Slightly bend your knees and cross your right thigh over your left thigh, hooking your right foot behind your left calf if you can.
    • Find your balance and take a few deep breaths, feeling the stretch in your upper back and shoulders.
    • Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then repeat on the other side.

    2. Full Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

    The Full Cobra Pose stretches the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and neck, enhancing flexibility and mobility. It also strengthens your back muscles, promoting proper alignment and posture.

    How to do it:

    • Lie flat on your stomach, legs extended, and the tops of your feet pressing into the floor.
    • Place your palms on the mat next to your shoulders, fingers pointing forward.
    • Inhale and gently lift your upper body off the ground, using the strength of your back muscles.
    • Keep your elbows close to your sides and your shoulders relaxed.
    • Look straight ahead or slightly upwards.
    • Hold the pose for 15-30 seconds, then slowly lower your body back down.

    3. Boat Pose (Navasana)

    The Boat Pose improves posture and alignment, reducing strain on your neck and shoulders. It also increases overall body awareness and balance.

    How to do it:

    • Sit on the mat with your legs extended in front of you.
    • Place your hands slightly behind your hips, fingers pointing towards your feet.
    • Engage your core muscles and lean back slightly, lifting your feet off the ground.
    • Straighten your legs as much as you can, forming a V-shape with your body.
    • Keep your chest lifted and your spine straight.
    • If possible, extend your arms parallel to the ground.
    • Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds, then gently release.

    4. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

    The Bow Pose stretches the entire front body, including the shoulders, chest, and neck, improving flexibility. It also stimulates the digestive system and massages the abdominal organs.

    How to do it:

    • Lie flat on your stomach with your legs extended.
    • Bend your knees and bring your heels as close to your buttocks as possible.
    • Reach back with your hands and grasp your ankles.
    • Inhale deeply, then exhale as you lift your chest and thighs off the mat, creating a bow shape with your body.
    • Look forward and keep your neck in a neutral position.
    • Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds, then slowly release and relax.

    5. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

    Child’s Pose releases tension in the neck and shoulders, promoting relaxation and reducing stiffness.

    How to do it:

    • Begin by kneeling on the mat and sit back on your heels.
    • Exhale and lower your torso down, bringing your forehead to the ground.
    • Extend your arms forward or rest them alongside your body.
    • Allow your shoulders to relax and surrender to the pose, feeling a gentle stretch in your neck and upper back.
    • Breathe deeply and hold the pose for 1-2 minutes, focusing on releasing tension with each exhalation.

    6. Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

    The Fish Pose opens up the chest and improves lung capacity, enhancing breathing. It also relieves tension and fatigue in the upper body, promoting relaxation and rejuvenation.

    How to do it:

    • Lie on your back with your legs extended and your arms resting alongside your body, palms facing down.
    • Slide your hands underneath your buttocks, palms down.
    • Inhale and press your forearms and elbows into the mat, lifting your upper body off the ground.
    • Tilt your head back and allow the crown of your head to lightly touch the mat, arching your spine and opening your chest.
    • Keep your legs engaged and toes pointed.
    • Take slow, deep breaths and hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then gently release and rest.


    Incorporating these yoga stretches into your routine can alleviate stiffness, increase your range of motion, and promote overall flexibility and mobility in your neck and shoulders. So, give these poses a try regularly, and experience the relief they provide! Your body will thank you for it.

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