Artists spend hours standing in front of an easel or hunched over a drawing pad or table. Every day these repetitive movements cause neck, shoulder and back strain. Art lovers this works for you too! In fact, for anyone that is using on a cell phone, lap top, tablet, while sitting or standing in large increments of the day it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that you need to stretch the neck, shoulders and back to alleviate aches and pains.

For centuries, yoga has provided physical benefits to a hard-worked body. Artists can benefit from yoga’s healing practice with poses that perfect posture, strengthen muscles, release tension, increase blood flow and energy, and promote focus.

Additionally, yoga can be a great break. Here are 5 poses that require nothing but you!

Neck stretch: You can do this pose either standing or seated. Drop your right ear towards your right shoulder. Extend your left arm out to your side. Feel the stretch in the left side of your neck. With each exhale, sink your ear closer to your shoulder, and drop your shoulder away, like they are playing tag.

Hold the pose for 8-10 breaths. Switch sides and repeat.

Benefits:

  • Release tension in the neck
  • Stretch muscles safely

Modifications: To intensify the stretch, push your chin away from your chest, or place your right hand on your head when your right ear reaches for your shoulder

 

Hand to elbow: Begin this pose by sitting or standing comfortably with a straight spine.Reach the right arm up, bend the elbow, and drop your right hand between the shoulder blades. Place your left hand on the right elbow and press gently to intensify the stretch.

Hold the pose for 8-10 breaths. Switch sides and repeat.

Benefits: Stretches the front of the shoulders, triceps, and the back of the neck.

 

Standing Stretch: Stand next to a wall with your feet parallel and comfortably separated. Place the fingertips of one hand on the wall at shoulder height with your arm fully extended. Place your other hand on your hip.

Rotate your arm outward slightly so that your thumb (rather than your index finger) points upward. Keep your shoulder aligned with your hand and begin to lift and open your chest with your breath, rolling your collarbones back.

Hold for 8-10 breaths, then switch sides and repeat.

Benefits:

  • Relieve tightness in arms, shoulders, and chest

Modifications: To lessen the sensation, cactus the arm on the wall, bending from the elbow. To intensify the stretch, turn your hips away from the wall.

Eagle Arms (Garudasana): 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.Breathe deeply. Lower your shoulders away from your ears, gently pull the hands away from the face.

Hold the pose for at least five breaths and work up to 10 breaths. Switch sides and repeat.

Benefits:

  • Stretch muscles in your arms, shoulders, upper back, and neck.
  • Open shoulder joints, creating space between the shoulder blades.
  • Increased circulation in joints.

Modifications: If your palms don’t touch, don’t worry about it! Grasp the wrist of the bent arm with your other hand.

Hanging forward fold (Uttanasana): Stand with your feet hip-width apart. On an exhale, bend forward, bring your chest toward your thighs, tuck your chin, and let your arms dangle. With each inhalation in the pose, lift and lengthen your torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. Let your head hang.If your hamstrings are limiting the stretch, bend your knees generously.

Hold the pose for 30 seconds – 1 minute.

Benefits:

  • Releases lower back
  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  • Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips
  • Strengthens the thighs and knees
  • Reduces fatigue and anxiety
  • Relieves headaches and insomnia
  • Modifications: There are so many modifications you can take with your arms to further the opening in your back and chest.