If you are new to Yin Yoga or simply need a more gentle Yin Yoga practice for neck and shoulders - this practice is for you! We practice using props, shorter holds, and more explanation on alternatives/modifications you can choose from for your practice. Let's release the entire neck and shoulder area - gently, supported and with the breath!
Join me using the Full Practice Guide or video below!
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Hold: 1-2 minutes each stretch/side
#1 Sit up high on a block or your heels and lengthen your spine. Drop one ear over to the same shoulder and take the same hand over to the opposite shoulder. Breath and allow gravity to gently stretch and release the neck. Switch sides.
#2 Take your hands, interlaced, to the base of your skull with thumbs touching the bones at the base of the skull. Allow elbows to point forward and bring chin to chest with gravity (no pushing or pulling, just the weight of your arms/hands and gravity). Take 8-10 breaths and release.
#3 Turn your head to one side and bring the same side fingers to your chin to help softly turn it a bit more. Take 8-10 breaths and switch sides.
Child's Pose, Twisted Child's Pose
Hold: 2-3 minutes/pose/side
Come onto your hands and knees. Bring your big toes together and knees apart slightly (bringing them closer together opens the front thighs more). Keeping your hips low to the heels (prop with blankets or blocks if needed), allow your torso to drop forward, resting your head on your fists or hands or the floor. Allow your head to be supported fully with the weight on the space between your eyebrows. This will bring some softness to your whirling thoughts and quiet your mind (hold here for 2-3 minutes). Use a block for your head if needed for comfort.
Take your right hand and thread it under your left arm, resting your head on a block or blanket and stack them palm on palm.
Child's Pose Prayer Hands
Hold: 1-2 minutes
From Child's Pose above, slide the elbows out and take the palms together. Bring the thumbs back to the base of your skull or somewhere in between for a deep stretch through the arms and shoulders.
1/2 Melting Heart Pose
Hold: 1-3 mins/side
Come onto hands and knees (blanket underneath for comfort if needed). Begin to drop your belly down towards the floor keeping hips directly over knees. Start to walk your hands out in front of you (wide if that opens your shoulders more). Take your right hand and cross the forearm so you can rest your forehead on top of it or a block. Take your left arm out straight overhead or at an angle to the left. Allow your back to lengthen and your chest to drop - stretching your side body, shoulders and chest. Breathe deeply into the spine and chest (engage navel if this is too much on your lower back). To come out, engage your core and begin to lift, walking your hands back towards your knees. Take Downward Facing Dog for 5-8 breaths - bending one knee and the other. Continue to the other side with the left forearm bent under your head and right arm outstretched in front.
Supported Fish Pose
Hold: 1-3 minutes +
Take a rolled towel or blanket across the mat. Settle down onto it with the shoulders fully supported at first and then slowly begin to inch your way towards the floor with shoulderblades barely grazing the floor behind you. Start here allowing the shoulders and upper back to fully release and open. Take your arms up overhead or out to sides (even interlacing them if comfortable). You can stay here for the remainder of the time OR gently inch your way to where the shoulders are fully supported on the floor. To come out - bend knees, press into your feet and lifting your hips - remove the blanket from underneath. Bring your hips back down and relax for 5 more breaths before continuing.
Hold: 2-3 mins per side
Come onto your back and walk both heels over to the right, stacking the right ankle over the left (option to just keep them side by side). Keeping the hips in place, move your upper body and head over to the right as well. Take arms up overhead and grasp left wrist with right hand OR simply take hands where you feel stretch but not pain. Turn your head wherever it feels most comfortable. Take deep breaths into the left side body feeling the opening from the left foot through the left hand. To come out, release the hands to the hips and move the upper body back to center. Slowly unwind the ankles and realign the lower body to center. Relax with arms and heels wide for 1 minute. Try the second side.
Hold: 2-3 mins/side
Come onto your back. Gently press through your feet to lift hips over to the right side. Bring knees to chest and drop over to the left side, stacking the knees as much as possible (using a block underneath if the knees don't come to the floor easily). Take arms wide out from shoulders and turn head to the right. Allow gravity to pull your knees ground bound and settle your shoulders deeper. Enjoy the release of the spine, back and hips in here and breathe deeply into the space you have found. To come out, turn head to center, engage core and come back to center hugging knees in and rocking for a few breaths. Take the second side.
Hold: 5-10 minutes
Allow the feet to slide out to the width of your mat, knees bend, slide your shoulder blades underneath your body, and take your hands to your belly. Drop your knees towards one another and allow your fingertips to gently massage the abdominal area in circles starting out at the edge and moving gently inwards. Take some deep breaths, coming back to the 3 part breath - first in the belly, then in the chest and finally the collarbones - and extend the exhale even longer. Allow yourself to sigh a few times and let it all go! Feel the softness in your belly and let it relax COMPLETELY.
I have been "playing" and experimenting with yoga, aromatherapy and healthy living since my late teens - researching, testing, reading, investigating, and learning anything that would make my life - and the lives around me - better naturally.
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