Reading is such a relaxing activity. At least it should be. But doing one of my favorite activities gives my body aches and pains, particularly in my shoulders, neck, and back. I know I’m not alone! To alleviate that pain, I found stretches and yoga poses that focus on those areas, so I can keep doing what I love. Reading!
Now, I’m no yoga instructor, so I’m sharing the exact instructions from them on how to do these poses.
1. Ear to Shoulder
I love this one. This and shoulder rolls are probably the poses and stretches where I feel the most.
Here’s what the instructor says:
“Sit comfortably on the floor or on a chair with your spine straight and shoulders relaxed. Draw your chin toward your chest and gently roll your right ear toward your right shoulder. Place the fingertips of your left hand on top of the left shoulder and your right fingertips above the left ear. The pressure you put on each of the two touch points determines how deep the stretch is. This stretch works the neck and shoulder muscles. After approximately five breaths, switch sides and repeat. Then, roll your head side to side for approximately five breaths.”
2. Cat Cow Pose
As silly as you might feel doing this one, it strengthens your core, which in turn helps your back.
From the instructor:
“Begin in a tabletop position, with your wrists aligned with your shoulders and knees aligned with your hips. With each inhale, arch your back and look towards the ceiling (this is the cow). With each exhale, tuck your chin into your chest, pull your tailbone under, and round your back and shoulders (this is the cat). The combination of the two stretches the neck, chest, shoulders, spinal column, and lower back. Switch between the two for 8-10 breaths.”
3. Backward Hand Clasp
After doing the ear to shoulder stretch, this one adds another layer, involving more of the lower neck and the area between the shoulder blades.
The instructor says:
“Stand with your feet hip distance apart, arms by your sides. Reach both hands behind your backside, and hold onto your left wrist with your right hand. Use your right hand to gently straighten your left arm and pull it away from you slightly. To increase the stretch in your neck, slowly lower your right ear toward your shoulder. Stay here for 30 seconds and then switch sides.”
4. Grounded Tipover Tuck
Here’s how to do this pose:
“Start in Child’s Pose with your shins and forehead on the floor. Stay here for a few breaths, working on lengthening your spine as you relax your chest to your thighs. When you’re ready, interlace your hands behind you in a double fist. If you can, press the heels of your palms together to increase the stretch in your shoulders. Then lift your hands as high as you can.
“Inhale to shift your weight forward and lift your hips off your heels. Come to rest on the top of your head and extend your hands as close to the floor as you can. Stay here for 10 seconds and then lower your hips back to your heels. Stay here for 10 seconds, and then lift your hips up again. Continue this cycle five or more times, then release into Child’s Pose with your arms on either side of your legs.”
5. Eagle Arms
This looks like a pretzel, but it really does stretch!
From the instructor:
“Stand or sit comfortably with your spine straight and your neck comfortably elongated. Reach out both arms so they’re at shoulder width and height. Bend the right arm up towards the head and sweep the left arm under the right. Bend and wrap the left arm around the right one. The eventual goal is to have the palms touch. Gaining that flexibility may take time, so if the palms don’t reach, grasp the wrist of the right arm with your left hand. Breathe deeply. Lower your shoulders away from your ears, gently pull the hands away from the face, and slowly turn your gaze over the left shoulder. This pose stretches the muscles in your arms, shoulders, upper back, and neck. Hold the pose for at least five breaths and work up to 10 breaths. Switch sides and repeat.”
6. Seated Heart Opener
If you have to look down to read for long periods of time, this pose is great!
The instructor says:
“Begin sitting on the heels as if coming into Reclining Hero pose. Lean back and place your palms flat on the floor about eight to 10 inches behind you so your fingertips are pointing away. Press your hands firmly into the ground to lift the chest high, arching your back and pushing your hips into your heels. To increase the stretch, lower your head behind you, stretching through your throat and the front of your chest even more. Stay for 30 seconds, then lift your head and torso up.”
7. Supine Spinal Twist
This one of my favorites for my back. Lie down on the ground, and bring both legs up to your right side. Try to keep your legs at a right angle, so your calves are parallel to your body. Turn your head to your left, and extend both arms out. Make sure that both shoulders keep touching the ground.
A classic yoga pose with so many benefits!
How to do it:
“Begin lying flat on your back with your arms along the sides of your body, with your palms facing down. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Walk your heels as close as you can to your bum, keeping them hip-width apart. Make sure both feet are parallel. With your palms and feet pressing firmly into the ground, lift your hips off the floor. Stay here, or clasp your hands together below your pelvis, extending through your arms. Rock your weight from side to side to bring the shoulder blades closer together. Stay here for 30 seconds, continuing to lift the hips high. To release this stretch, gently lower your booty back to the ground. Then stretch through your lower back by hugging your knees into your chest.”
In addition to creating your own routine with these kinds of poses and stretches, you can follow along with these routine videos. Sometimes it helps to follow along than to try to start from scratch on your own. Either way, these stretches and poses will help you address any discomfort that comes from reading.
What are your favorite yoga poses and stretches from reading aches and pains?
Featured image via: Yogi Surprise