9 Yoga Poses to Help Relieve Neck and Shoulder Pain

9 Yoga Poses to Help Relieve Neck and Shoulder Pain

When you’re under stress, it’s common to experience neck and shoulder pain. And that means getting through the day without wincing can be challenging — you may even convince yourself to skip your workout because of it.

I’m a certified yoga instructor, and I’d like to share nine of my favorite yoga moves for neck pain and shoulder pain — so you can get back to doing everything you want to be doing.

(If your pain is related to an injury, talk to your doctor or physical therapist — these stretches are meant to help with everyday tightness and sore muscles.)

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9 Yoga Poses for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Whether you slept funny, you’re stressed from a long day at the office, or you overdid it in your last exercise session, these nine stretches can help relieve your neck and shoulder pain.

Arm Across Chest pose shoulder pain yoga

1. Arm Across Chest

This pose will stretch the neck and back of the shoulders.

• Sit comfortably on the floor or on a chair with your spine straight, neck elongated, and shoulders in a relaxed position.

• Reach the right arm out so it is at shoulder height and bring it across the chest toward the left side of your body.

• Turn your gaze to look over your right shoulder.

• Hold for approximately eight to 10 breaths, then switch sides.


Thread the needle pose shoulder pain yoga

2. Thread the Needle

• Begin in a tabletop position, with your knees aligned with your hips.

• Walk the left hand forward as far as you can and thread the right arm under it.

• Rest your right shoulder and your right cheek on the mat.

• Close your eyes and relax into the pose as it gently stretches the shoulders, arms, upper back, and neck.

• Hold this pose for approximately eight to 10 breaths.

• Switch sides and repeat.


Eagle pose shoulder pain yoga

3. Eagle Arms

This pose stretches the muscles in your arms, shoulders, upper back, and neck.

• Stand or sit comfortably with your spine straight and your neck comfortably elongated.

• Reach out both arms so they’re at shoulder width and height.

• Bend the right arm up towards the head and sweep the left arm under the right. Bend and wrap the left arm around the right one. The eventual goal is to have the palms touch. Gaining that flexibility may take time, so if the palms don’t reach, grasp the wrist of the right arm with your left hand.

• Breathe deeply.

• Lower your shoulders away from your ears, gently pull the hands away from the face, • and slowly turn your gaze over the left shoulder.

• Hold the pose for at least five breaths and work up to 10 breaths.

•Switch sides and repeat.


Head Rolls pose yoga

4. Ear To Shoulder/Neck Rolls

This stretch works the neck and shoulder muscles.

• Sit comfortably on the floor or on a chair with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed.

• Draw your chin toward your chest and gently roll your right ear toward your right shoulder.

• Place the fingertips of your left hand on top of the left shoulder and your right fingertips above the left ear. The pressure you put on each of the two touch points determines how deep the stretch is.

• After approximately five breaths, switch sides and repeat.

• Then roll your head side to side for approximately five breaths.


Shoulder Rolls pose yoga

5. Shoulder Rolls

Stand or sit comfortably with a straight spine.

• Place your fingertips on top of your shoulders. As you proceed through the following movements, hold each one for several breaths.

• Pull your elbows toward each other in the front of the body to stretch out the shoulder blades and upper back.

• Pull them up to stretch the triceps.

• Fan them to the side to stretch out the chest and front of the shoulders.

• Pull them towards each other in the back of the body for a deep shoulder and chest stretch.


Cat Cow pose yoga

6. Cat/Cow Stretch

You’ll feel the combination of these two stretches in the neck, chest, shoulders, spinal column, and lower back.

• Begin in a tabletop position, with your wrists aligned with your shoulders and knees aligned with your hips.

• With each inhale, arch your back and look towards the ceiling (this is the cow).

• With each exhale, tuck your chin into your chest, pull your tailbone under, and round your back and shoulders (this is the cat).

• Switch between the two for eight to 10 breaths.

Head to Arms Cow Face pose yoga

7. Hand to Elbow

This pose stretches the front of the shoulders, triceps, and the back of the neck.

• Begin by sitting or standing comfortably with a straight spine.

• Reach the right arm up, bend the elbow, and drop your right hand between the shoulder blades.

• Place your left hand on the right elbow and press gently to intensify the stretch.

• Hold the pose for eight to 10 breaths.

• Switch sides and repeat.

Backward Hand Clasp pose yoga

8. Backward Hand Clasp

• Stand with your feet hip width apart.

• Interlace your fingers behind you and press your palms together.

• Lift the arms as high as you can until you feel the stretch in the front of your shoulders.

• Hold the pose for eight to 10 breaths.


Supported Fish pose yoga

9. Supported Fish Pose

This pose will stretch the chest, the front of the shoulders, and neck.

• Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you, or with your knees bent and your feet resting on the floor.

• Place a small stack of blankets or two yoga blocks behind you so that when you lean back, one will rest between your shoulder blades and one will support your head.

• Lean back onto the blocks and relax your arms on other side of your body.

• Relax in this pose for eight to 10 breaths.

Sarah Stevenson


Sarah Stevenson , a.k.a., The Tini Yogini, is a Certified Yoga Instructor in Southern California. She has a degree in Behavioral Psychology and teaches not only yoga classes but also life affirming workshops.