Neck and Shoulder Movement Exercises – Greeva & Skandha Sanchalan

Greeva means neck and sanchalana means movement. Neck movements are one of the most basic exercises in the yoga. It can be performed at any time during the day, evening, or even at night. You can do these movements on the bed, on your office chair, in the park, or anywhere else. It will be good, if you can do these by sitting in the vajrasana.

Cervical pain is a very common problem among people due to long & continuous hours of sitting in one posture, or a rough night of sleep, or reduced workout. It is said that human neck makes 6 movements primarily, and other movements are the combinations of these movements. These movements are called flexion, extension, right & left lateral rotation, and right & left lateral flexion. These stretching exercises are good to loosen the neck ligaments and provide relief from neck pain. You must do these movements slowly with awareness, and synchronized with the breath.

In the yoga, following asanas are also recommended for neck excercises – balasana (child pose), natrajasana (reclining twist), bitiliasana (cow pose), marjariasana (cat pose), viparita karani asana (legs-up-the-wall pose), utthita trikonasana (extended triangle pose), savasana (corpse pose).

Do remember, the main purpose of these asanas is to relax your mind and body, so you have to follow a set pattern of breathing as mentioned in each variation. At any time during these asanas, if you feel dizziness, simply open your eyes and relax. You have to do these movements slowly and in a rhythmic way. Observe your breathing carefully.

Initially start with 10 rounds of each movement, and later on increase the time.

Neck Movement Technique

Variation 1 (Forward & Backward Flexion).

Sit relax in the shoelace position or cross legged position with the hands resting on the knees and spine straight. Close your eyes. Slowly move the head forward and try to touch the chest with your chin. Move the head as far back as possible and comfortable. Do not strain. Try to feel the stretch of the muscles of the neck.

You have to inhale on the backward movement, and exhale on the forward movement.

Variation 2 (Lateral Flexion).

Sit relax in the cross legged position with the hands resting on the knees and spine straight. Close your eyes. Relax the shoulders, and slowly move the head to the right, and try to touch the right ear to the right shoulder without raising the shoulders. Now move the head to the left and try to touch the left shoulder with your left ear. Do not strain. Touching the shoulder is not necessary, just focus on the movement and feel the stretch in the neck muscles.

You have to inhale on the upward movement, and exhale on the downward movement.

Variation 3.

Sit relax in the cross legged position with the hands resting on the knees and spine straight. Close your eyes. Gently turn the head to the right in a way that the chin is in line with the shoulder. Then move the head to the left as far possible. Do not strain and feel the movement of neck.

You have to inhale while turning to the left or right, and exhale while turning to the front.

Variation 4 (Right & Left Lateral Rotation).

Sit relax in the cross legged position with the hands resting on the knees and spine straight. Close your eyes. Slowly rotate the head downward, to the right, backward and then to the left side in a relaxed circular movement. Feel the circular movement.

You have to inhale as the heads move up and exhale as it moves down. This asana can give you dizziness.

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Shoulder Movement Technique

Socket Rotation.

Put your right hand on the right shoulder in the side bending your elbow in such a way that elbow is parallel to the ground, move your elbow in the clockwise and anticlockwise direction assuming a circle. Make sure that your hand on the shoulder, shoulder itself, and whole body is still and not moving. Do the same process for left hand, then do the same process with both the hands. Do it at least 15-20 times each.

Another variation: Place both your hands on the shoulders, but this time in front of your chest and not in the side. Make circles with your elbows in a clockwise direction and then anticlockwise direction. Do it at least 15-20 times each.

Elbow Bending.

Stretch your arm in front of you parallel to the ground and bend it from elbow and try to touch you shoulder from the hand, do the same from another arm, and then from both the arms.

Make sure that your body is still and only elbow is moving. Do it at least 15-20 times each.

The Windmill.

Raise your arms in front of you at shoulder level and parallel to the ground. Now rotate your arms in a 360 degree circular motion, first clockwise and then anticlockwise motion, like the blades of a windmill. Do it at least 15-20 times.

Prayer Pose:

Join your hands in a praying pose above your head, bring it down in the sides and then again go up. Do it at least 15-20 times.

Another Variation: Join your palms up in the praying pose, and bring them down to the front of your chest. Raise your joined hands again. Do it at least 15-20 times.

Two Minutes Office Exercises for Neck & Shoulder pain

Study shows that the people who dedicate a few minutes of their office hours to some simple neck and shoulder movements, have a minimal level of neck & shoulder pain.

You can do these stretching exercises while sitting your chair or standing up on the floor. Stretch your arms all the way up from the shoulder, then in the sides, then take

them back and then in front of you. In the same way you can do some quick neck movements to get relaxed in the long working hours. You can also try the swimming movement by moving your shoulders in such a way as if you are swimming.
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  1. Strengthen the muscles of the neck and the shoulders.
  2. Build strength in the arms, shoulders and neck muscles. The biceps and triceps get toned.
  3. Stimulates nerves of different organs that pass through the neck.
  4. Since all the nerves, connecting the body organs, pass through the neck; these asanas release stress and stiffness in the head, neck, and shoulder region.
  5. Very good exercise after a long desk work.
  1. Should not be performed by elderly people.
  2. Those suffering from low or high blood pressure, and cervical spondylitis should avoid it.

It is advisable to perform any asana in the supervision of a qualified yoga instructor.

Gautam Trehan

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