5 Yoga Poses to Release Neck & Shoulder Tension at Your Desk

Sitting at a computer all day can wreak havoc on our bodies. Common complaints relate to the accumulation of tension in the neck, shoulders, and jaw, which can lead to headaches and muscle soreness. While we may not be able to get away from our desks anytime soon, there are simple yoga poses you can do at the office (and in your chair) to reduce muscle tension and improve the functional mobility of the cervical spine. 

These simple poses chair yoga poses take only 5 minutes and can yield immediate results. 

A few notes before we get started . . . 

Breathing

Set yourself up for success by integrating proper breathing into each pose using the following techniques:

  • Breathe in and out through the nose

  • As you inhale, feel your belly expand

  • As you exhale, draw your belly toward your spine

  • Breathe in and out to your full capacity and at an even cadence

Neutral Position

A proper foundation is key to the success of any yoga pose. All of today's practices start in the following neutral seated position:

  • Straight spine

  • Feet on the earth, hip-distance apart

  • Knees over your ankles

  • Shoulders over your hips

  • Chin very slightly tucked

1. Chin to Chest

  • Begin in the neutral seated position.

  • Let your arms hang loosely by your sides, hands on your lap.

  • Take a deep breath in.

  • As you exhale, slowly lower your toward your chin toward your chest (it may not touch).

  • Pause for a moment at the bottom to deepen the stretch at the back of the neck.

  • Inhale and lift your head back to center.

  • Repeat 3 times.

2. Chin Over Shoulder

  • Begin in the neutral seated position.

  • Let your arms hang loosely by your sides, hands on your lap.

  • Take a deep breath in.

  • As you exhale turn your gaze to the right, chin over your right shoulder.

  • Go as far as is comfortable and pause a moment.

  • Inhale and return to center.

  • Repeat on the left.

  • Complete a total of 3 sets.

3. Ear to Shoulder

  • Begin in the neutral seated position.

  • Let your arms hang loosely by your sides, hands on your lap.

  • Take a deep breath in.

  • As you exhale lower your right ear toward your right shoulder (it probably won't touch).

  • Go as far as is comfortable and pause a moment. Avoid lifting the shoulder to meet the ear.

  • Inhale and return to center.

  • Repeat on the left.

  • Complete a total of 3 sets.

4. Neck Rolls

  • Begin in the neutral seated position.

  • Let your arms hang loosely by your sides, hands on your lap.

  • Take a deep breath in.

  • As you exhale, bring your chin to your chest.

  • Inhale and begin a slow counter-clockwise neck roll (toward your left shoulder). Roll your neck back and around until you return to the starting point (chin to your chest).

  • Exhale and pause for a moment.

  • Inhale and reverse direction with a slow clockwise neck roll (to the right).

  • Complete a total of 3 sets.

  • Note: Not everyone has the flexibility to practice neck rolls safely. If you feel any discomfort in your neck, skip this pose or try a modified half circle practice. To modify, inhale and begin a slow counter-clockwise neck roll pausing at the shoulder. Exhale and return to center. Repeat on the right. Complete a total of 3 sets.

5. Eagle Arms

  • Begin in the neutral seated position.

  • Wrap your right arm under your left and bend at the elbows.

  • Place your right fingertips on or below your left palm, fingertips of both hands pointing toward the ceiling.

  • Allow your shoulder blades to spread apart as you lift your elbows in line with your shoulders and press your hands away from your face.

  • Breathe deeply into the stretch between your shoulders for 5-10 breaths.

  • As your shoulders begin to loosen, press your hands further away from your face. Keep lifting the elbows so that they remain in line with the shoulders.

  • Relax the jaw. Let the lower teeth release away from the upper teeth, soften the tongue.

  • Repeat on the left.

You can repeat these practices as often as needed throughout your day. For maximum effect, practice at least twice per day. Complete the spinal series exercises with 5 Poses to Release Back Tension at Your Desk

Interested in learning more about Yoga at Work? Aria Yoga Co. offers a variety of personalized corporate wellness programs to empower employees with tools to reduce tension, improve memory, attention, focus, emotional intelligence, and performance under stress. Visit Aria Corporate to learn more or contact us at inquire@ariayoga.co.  

 

About the Author. Elisar Hares, ESQ. is a Yoga Alliance Certified yoga instructor and co-founder of Aria Yoga Co. She has completed 200 hour yoga teaching programs in two disciplines, power vinyasa and PranaVayu. In addition, Elisar studied inner engineering, meditation, and Ayurvedic healing modalities through the Isha Foundation and the Chopra Center. A graduate of Wellesley College and Northeastern Law School, Elisar founded Aria in order to give people tools to live healthier, happier lives.