Unmanaged stress causes your muscles to tense up. Relax your tight shoulders and neck with this easy, do-anywhere neck roll.
When you’re stressed, the nervous system tells major muscle groups to tense up (which gets them ready to fight or flee). If you continue to remain stressed, those muscles stay tight and constricted, leading to stress-related muscle pain and tension. If it feels as though the weight of the world is on your shoulders, practice this neck roll exercise, offered by yoga therapist Judi Bar, the yoga program manager at the Cleveland Clinic.
Whether you choose to do your neck rolls standing or sitting, begin with a tall spine. Exhale as you let your chin drop toward your chest. Don’t force your chin to touch the chest, just let it fall naturally in that direction. As you inhale, roll your head slowly and gently to the right side, dropping the ear towards the shoulder. Keep inhaling as you continue to roll the head backward, looking up at the ceiling. Begin your next exhale as you roll your head to the left side and back forward to start. Do two or three rounds going in one direction and then switch directions. Do this gentle practice any time you feel tension gathering in your neck and shoulders.