The shoulders are the most mobile body joints, and the back has a complex structure that is supported by small and large muscles. Unfortunately, shoulder and back pain are common issues nowadays and are often linked to our sedentary lifestyles, health conditions, and injuries.
However, the pain and tightness in these areas can be relieved in a natural way, by practicing yoga.
Yoga is an ancient practice that unites the mind and body. Its name is derived from the Sanskrit word “Yuji,” meaning yoke or union. It incorporates breathing exercises, poses, and meditation, which lower stress and stimulate relaxation.
Numerous studies have confirmed the impressive benefits of yoga for mental and physical health.
Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California, claims:
“The purpose of yoga is to build strength, awareness, and harmony in both the mind and body. While there are more than 100 different types, or schools, of yoga, most sessions typically include breathing exercises, meditation, and assuming postures (sometimes called asana or poses) that stretch and flex various muscle groups.
As an osteopathic physician, I focus a lot of my efforts on preventive medicine and practices, and in the body’s ability to heal itself. Yoga is a great tool for staying healthy because it’s based on similar principles.
Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate. Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.
Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention, and sharpens concentration. Body- and self-awareness are particularly beneficial because they can help with early detection of physical problems and allow for early preventive action.”
“The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.”
The following gentle poses can boost your general flexibility, alleviate pain, and treat these issues:
Supported puppy pose
Begin in a tabletop position with the hips stacked over your knees, and the two blocks down in front of the hands on the lowest height. Walk the hands towards the top of the mat, and place your elbows on the blocks.
Lower the chest towards the floor, and bring the forehead to rest on the mat. Bring the palms to touch while the elbows are on the blocks, and bend them to bring the hands behind the nape of your neck. Lower the chest towards the ground, and hold for eight breaths.
Start on the floor in a tabletop position. Place two blocks shoulder-width distance apart at the top of the mat, and bring the big toes together to touch. Take the knees out wide, sit on the hips back onto the heels, and walk the hands forward. Place the hands on the blocks, allow the forehead to rest down and close the eyes. Hold for eight deep breaths.
Bound locust pose
Lie with the face down and the arms straight down alongside your body. Untuck the toes and bring the legs together. You should interlace your fingers behind the lower back, and breathe in to elevate the head, chest, arms, legs, and feet off the ground. Then, raise the hands up and away from the body, and hold for 5 breaths.
Put block going lengthwise down the center of the mat, set on the medium or lowest setting. Then, place another one going across the top of the mat on the same height to support the head.
Lower the body down so that the block rests between the shoulder blades. The top block should rest under the head like a pillow, and the arms should be to the sides, with the palms facing up. Keep the feet flat on the mat. Close the eyes and hold for eight breaths.
Thread the needle
Start in a tabletop position, elevate the right arm to feel the stretch on the side, and slide the right hand between the left hand and left knee to “thread the needle.” the right shoulder and right side of the head should rest comfortably on the floor.
Then, walk the left fingers towards the top of the mat. Hold for eight breaths, walk the left palm back under the left shoulder and press back up to a tabletop. Switch sides.
While lying on the belly, and supporting the upper body in the forearms, bring the right arm across the mat to the left side, and do the same with the left arm to the opposite side. Stretch the arms underneath the chest, place the forehead on a yoga block to relax your neck, and hold for 8 breaths. Then, switch sides.
Cow face arms
Sit with the legs crossed on a yoga block, raise the right arm bend it down to the upper back, while holding one end of a towel. Grab the other end with the left arm, bring the hands together, and lift the chest. Then, bring the back of the head onto the right forearm, and hold for 8 breaths. Switch sides.
Lie on the back with the legs straight down the mat. Hug the right knee into the chest, interlacing your fingers around the top of the chin, breathe in deeply, and exhale to guide the right thigh across the body to come into a twist. Then, straighten the right arm out to the right, place the left hand on the outer right thigh to deepen the twist, and look over the right shoulder. Close the eyes and hold for 8 breaths. Switch sides.
Low lunge twist
Start in a high plank position, step the right foot between the hands, and the knee above your ankle. Lower the back knee to the floor, and untuck the toes. Place a block inside of the right foot, place the left hand on the block, and inhale to reach the right hand towards the sky.
The chon should be tilted a bit towards the chest. Hold for 5 breaths, and switch sides.