yoga teacherBy Faye Martins

How often do your yoga classes emphasize releasing tension from upper-stress joints? Every Hatha Yoga instructor training course contains vital information for proper care of the neck and shoulders. Yet, do we give our yoga students all of the tools and information needed to maintain their upper body joints? In today’s world, there are many elements that can cause stress, especially with the state of the economy, social justice, violence, and other global issues, that can affect personal lives in many ways. In fact, we know people suffer in many ways due to stress and anxiety. However, let’s focus on aches and pains within the neck and shoulders area. Unfortunately, this is pain that many of our students already cope with on a daily basis.


General Information for Your Students

Firstly, present a sequence for its practical application toward real life. In this case, you are presenting a sequence for the relief in the neck and shoulders because they are related areas. As a result, these types of sequences are looked forward to by many students. Your students can identify with pain in the upper body. There is a reason why people use the saying, “weight of the world on my shoulders.” Due to the fact that when we carry that “weight” it definitely affects the neck and shoulders, this area of the body needs special care. Not only that, the neck and shoulders get a lot of use each day, injuries to these areas are among the most commonly suffered ailments.


Schedule a Relief Session

When you have a stiff neck or sore shoulders it can inhibit you from performing at your best each day. A regular scheduled Hatha Yoga practice can give students a way to cope with stress on the neck and shoulders and also help melt away that daily stress. When it comes to physical yoga practice there are many asanas that can be practiced at a scheduled time, but there are also many modified moves that you can do as you’re getting ready for work, at your desk, or right before bed that will help as well. Even with a busy schedule, everyone should still try to practice for at least an hour, and at least three times a week. The following are just some of the recommended asanas and modified poses to relieve neck and shoulder pain.

Modified Asanas and Warm-ups

Ear-to-Shoulder – Gently drop the ear to the shoulder at each side.

Chin-to-Chest – Pull the chin into the chest and inhale deeply.

Shoulder Circles – Raise the shoulders up, back, and down while breathing deeply.

Neck Roll – Inhale as you slowly roll the head forward from left to right, exhale back from right to left. Do not tilt your head back, while practicing neck rolls.

Side Stretch – With feet hip-width apart, stretch both arms to the ceiling and take turns pulling one arm gently to the side at a time.

Open Chest – Lace your fingers behind you as you sit forward on the chair, palms facing in. Gently lift arms and place them on the top of the chair, gently press the chest forward.

Chair Twist – Sit forward in a chair and bring both thighs to the right side. Place the left hand on the right knee and the right hand on the back/left side of the chair and stretch. Repeat on the opposite side.


Asanas for Neck and Shoulders

Dolphin Pose

Eagle Arms

Forward Fold – gently turn head side to side and use gentle nodding movements during practice.

Downward Dog

Cat and Cow


Teacher Tips

Teach Yoga students to maintain their bodies at home. If you know your students don’t practice outside of your studio, it might be best to produce a handout that gives them tips for practicing yoga at home. That said, many teachers have begun to produce videos for teaching classes online. Whether you produce videos on YouTube, FaceBook, or a pain Zoom subscription is up to you. Many teachers want ideas for how to get started with teaching online. For example, a 15-minute yoga training session is a great start. Sometimes, our students need a gentle nudge in the right direction to live the best possible life. Additionally, producing videos is a great way to get new students in your studio or to subscribe to your online studio. It’s just a matter of developing lesson plans around your student’s needs. If you are already producing classes online, please feel free to let us know in the comments section or contact us directly. We share related videos in our articles.


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