Are you like me and….. Seeking a place of surrender? Searching for a moment of relaxation? Craving self-care, yet not embracing it?
Well friend, look no further, you are in the right place.
Welcome to your invitation to relax, restore, and reconnect with today’s restorative yoga class. Through today’s yoga postures and moments of stillness, you will work (but with intention) to release stuck energy and tension from your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
And I’m sure we can all agree, these spaces are full of repressed emotions, thoughts, and feelings…. because if we take a deeper look at the locations, hello anahata and vishuddha chakras, your energetic centers that embody love, compassion, relationships, honesty, and communication reside here.
So it’s no wonder that in our current society, where everything revolves around forward movement and being consumed by a digital device that we’re closing our energy in these specific areas.
And when we close, oh baby, we’re taxing the body to all hell.
The action of suppressing or binding our natural energy, every day and all day, takes work. Like a lot of fucking work. And over time, the body becomes exhausted, which can you blame it.
Before we move forward and dive into each restorative yoga posture and it’s benefits, take a moment with me to reflect on your daily life. How many times a day do you suppress speaking your truth and voicing your authentic opinion? How many times a day do you block hurt emotions versus actually feeling your way through them? How many times a day do you resist receiving love? How many times a day you turn away from giving yourself love?
I’m raising my hand and nodding my head right beside you, so know that you’re not alone.
What if we could do something about this stored, stuck, and bound energy? What if we could lovingly allow it to release through well intentioned movement and an honest desire to be at peace?
Well friend, that’s the goal of our class today, and the many restorative yoga classes and meditations that are coming your way.
My goal is for you to feel at peace, home in your body, soft in your mind, and alive in your soul.
So without further ado, let’s dive into today’s restorative yoga practice that’s focusing on your neck, shoulders, and upper back and learn a thing or two. Then of course, we shall do some yoga, yeah?
Restorative Yoga: Neck, Shoulders, Upper Back
First and foremost, we need to discuss props. Restorative yoga requires a handful of props, no two ways around it, so for this specific class here’s what you need.
- 1 bolster, but 2 is recommended
- 2 blocks (optional)
- 1 blanket (rolled in a long fold, see images below)
- 1 strap, looped for your shoulder-width distance
I mention a long fold blanket position above and in today’s video, and let me clarify here, this is my first time articulating how my blanket is folded and in what specific position it is in. But, restorative yoga is the art of relaxation, so I figured, let’s dive in and relax wholeheartedly.
Long Fold How-To:
- Start with the blanket spread wide open
- Fold the blanket in half from the short side
- Fold again two more times, bringing it into a square fold
- Roll the blanket with the fringe side facing you and roll it into the blanket roll, hiding the fringe detail
Now that we’re all setup, let’s dive into today’s restorative yoga sequence and break down the postures.
Downward Facing Dog
…. at the wall
Sayyyy what, you don’t need to do all that work to experience downward dog, why didn’t anyone divulge this information sooner! But real talk, here’s the how-to.
- Place your hands on the wall and walk backwards until your torso is parallel to the floor and your feet are under your hips
- Keep your hands shoulder-width distance
- Lean back to ensure hips are stacking over feet and lower your head between your arms
- Hang out here for at least two minutes
Downward dog at the wall helps strengthen your wrists without the added pressure of your body weight, while opening your shoulders, back, and legs. This pose is also awesome for expecting mothers as it allows the uterus to shift and take pressure off any pinched nerves.
Lastly, I’ll list out the chakras benefited for each pose.
You’ll need a looped, shoulder-width distance strap for this four part sequence. For each movement, bring your thumbs to the interior of the loop, helping to keep the strap taut.
To begin, come to a standing or seated position, bring the strap out in front of you and thumbs into position.
Inhale the arms up towards the sky and exhale them back to shoulder height. Repeat this 3 – 5 times.
Inhale the arms up towards the sky, exhale and lean to the right, inhale back to center, and exhale to the left. Repeat this 3 -5 times on each side.
Inhale the arms up towards the sky, exhale and twist your torso to the right, inhale back to center, exhale and twist to the left. Repeat this 3 – 5 times on each side.
Bring the strap behind the body, thumbs to the interior, and exhale to bring your hands and the strap away from the body, inhale to bring it all back in. Repeat 3 – 5 times.
These shoulder movement sequences help to warm up the body and release tension from the shoulders, whether it’s built up tension from everyday life or overdoing it during a workout, try these!
Chakra benefited: anahata
Blanket Heart Opener
As the name suggests, you’ll need a blanket here and we’ll be using the long fold example from above.
To begin, place the blanket horizontally across the back of your mat and lie down on your back.
Position the rolled blanket below your shoulders, women think your bra strap line and men, you also know where that bra strap lives!
Relax the head onto the mat, bring arms to a T-shape and let them rest above the rolled blanket (not on it).
Now choose to extend the legs or keep the knees bent, whatever is more comfortable in your body.
Focus on expansive breathing here and hold for at least 2 minutes.
This heart opening position opens up the back muscles and is an awesome prep for deeper backbends, or it can simply be used on it’s own for relaxation and expansive awareness.
Bolster Heart Opener
For this posture, I recommend a minimum of one bolster, but two is desired for the ultimate restorative experience.
Place bolsters horizontally across the yoga mat, one to go underneath your mid-back area (bra strap again) and one for under your knees.
Lie over the bolsters with your arms in a T-shape above the top bolster. If the upper bolster is too high and it’s stressing your neck, place a folded blanket or block under your head.
Hold the position for at least 5 minutes and max of 20 minutes, while remembering to breath fully and deeply into your chest.
This pose is incredible for combating the daily forward movements of life – driving, typing, texting, scrolling on social media, doing household chores – and helps to open the back and chest areas. If you maintain a consistent breath pattern, it can also be very invigorating, so be weary when rising back up to a seated position.
Chakra benefited: anahata
Child’s Pose with Bolster
For the ultimate setup, use a bolster and two blocks, but all of these are optional. You can simply do a traditional child’s pose and still receive the benefits.
If you’re doing the whole shebang, here’s the how-to:
Setup the blocks to create a support system for the bolster, see image below for reference
Place the bolster atop the blocks in a vertical position
Come into your child’s pose variation and relaxxxxx for 3 – 15 minutes
Child’s pose is the ultimate resting pose in our asana practice, whether it’s restorative or vinyasa, it can always be considered a safe place to be. This common posture gently opens up the backside body, while allowing the nervous system to relax and restore.
Chakras benefited – ALL SEVEN, how’s that for an awesome posture!
Belly Down Twist
Shocker yogis, you will need a bolster here!
Place the bolster vertically in the center of your mat
Bring your right hip to connect with the bottom of the bolster as your knees spill over to the right too
On an inhale breath, rotate your torso towards the bolster and lie down onto it
Choose to play around witeh the position of your head, stretching one side of the neck more deeply or both sides
Repeat on the other side and hold for a minimum of 3 minutes
This twist is for everyone, as it’s fully supported and allows the body to gently relieve stress and tension from the side body and midsection.
Chakras benefited: manipura
And you made it to your final resting posture, the oh so sweet savasana!
For this posture, you can experiment with various positions, but do carve out 10 minutes to seal your practice.
Blanket heart opener
Bolster heart opener
Supported fish with blocks
Bolster under the knees
Also, if you have an eye pillow or something to cover your eyes, it is always welcomed and encouraged here!
Chakras benefited: ALL SEVEN, that’s two times in one sequence and all the more reason to stick around and finish your practice with me!
And now that you’ve read, digested, and learned about this restorative yoga sequence for the neck, shoulders, and upper back, are you ready to step on the mat and experience the relaxation for yourself?
I have a feeling you are…. let’s get started. I’ll meet you there, xoxo.