by Marian Thornley

In a recent article I started to talk about a health issue that affects nearly every one of us at some point in our lives – stress.

One of the most common physical symptoms to present itself when stress is present is tension in the neck and shoulder area, which, if not corrected can give rise to severe pain.

Gentle movement and stretching of the muscles helps to keep them mobile and less likely to go into painful spasm.

Here are a few more exercises which can be practiced by themselves whenever you feel tense, or in conjunction with those in my last article. If you tend to suffer from this problem, practising the exercises on a daily basis will work wonders.

Start in a comfortable sitting position with the back straight. First of all, take some deep, slow breaths with the head in a neutral position and shoulders relaxed.

As you exhale, slowly turn the head to one side, keeping the chin parallel to the floor. When you encounter resistance, gently press the head a fraction further.

Do not force the head further than it wishes to go, but at the same time, explore the limit of the movement. Inhale and return to the central point. Repeat to each side at least five times.

Now turn the head over one shoulder again. Inhale, and as you exhale, very gently allow the chin to drop towards the chest.

If this is comfortable, continue to take the chin towards the other shoulder in a semi-circle. Keeping the chin parallel, as you inhale, return the chin to its starting point above the first shoulder and repeat a few times.

Then repeat the exercise in the other direction.

To finish with, place the fingertips on top of the shoulders. Exhale and draw the elbows together in front of you.

As you inhale, move the elbows up and away from each other in large circles. As the elbows start to move back and downwards, start your exhalation.

Keep your eyes closed, focus mentally on the shoulders completing their circles, and try to make the movement as smooth as you can.

Complete five circles in one direction and then reverse the movement for an equal number of repetitions. If you find it too difficult to coordinate your breath with the movement at this stage, just try the movement by itself.


Marian is a qualified yoga teacher, although she is not currently teaching.  She is particularly interested in the use of yoga as a tool for health and healing.

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