Shoulders should be a big focus in your hot yoga practice. By the time you’ve knowledged yourself up on the subject you’ll realise that this oft-forgotten aspect of your practice is being ignored in public Bikram and hot yoga classes. If this were a crime, there’d be a lot of teachers in trouble! Your shoulders they deserve much greater attention than they are getting. So here’s blog part 3 out of my 4 part blog-series on shoulders! Right here you’ll find many real techniques … things that really work to fix a sore neck and still more to fix your posture.

Missed the other 2 blogs? Well, to get the whole story, it’s best to start at the beginning.

>> Take a look at part 1 here: >>

>> Take a look at part 2 here: >>

In it up to your neck?

Years ago I recorded a free video about shoulders and arms.

I included some crucial take home points from that vid in the last 2 emails about how fixing your shoulder, head and neck tension through CORRECT TECHNIQUE. At the end of this blog, I’ll give you the link to this resource that I STILL get positive emails about even after 6 years.

The rest of this post is devoted to techniques that will help you or anyone you know improve their posture oh, and their yoga. I will give you some hints for backbends and as promised, Pranayama.

OK! Have you ever had a twinge in your neck that gives you a slight amount of problem while you’re doing normal everyday stuff, but as soon as you go to class you find Pranayama and all backbends simply impossible?

Well naturally this has got to do with your neck and shoulder placement and use.

The first thing to do is follow the instructions that I have outlined in the previous 2 blogs on shoulders. You’ll find those 2 links above!

[Recap: Pain can result from squeezing arms to the head. Details on how to recognize and fix these issues are in the links to those blogs above and I’ll even put a link at the end of this post too. Watch the video link – also at the end of this post – for some even finer details about putting your ‘elbows in your back pockets’ (or ‘shoulders’ if you prefer).]

Starting with Pranayama …

But what do you do if you have that neck ache that prevents you from doing Pranayama to start with. Sitting out is an option but (besides being awkward and annoying) what if I were to give you a technique to fix your neck DURING Pranayama?

Yep, it works in many, many cases. Just be careful to follow these crucial and precise directions, and listen to your body.

You already know the basic Pranayama 101 rules:

  • That you have the hands at the chin and you move the elbows up and then together in front of you.
  • And you know that you move your head back and forth. And you know you’re supposed to coordinate these 2 activities.
  • So you know you inhale as you raise the elbows and bring the chin back to parallel with the floor.
  • Then you exhale and push the fingers into the chin to push the head backwards while bringing the elbows together.

Once you understand the many, many nuances you can get through Pranayama, and really deepen your breath and get a stretch.

Now to get one huge leap further and fix your neck takes some attention.

Simple … IF you’re actually doing it consciously

It sounds simple. In fact I warn you now. You’ll probably read the following paragraphs and say to yourself “I am already doing that”. But you actually are not. You’re doing something that seems similar. This technique really needs you to be super conscious and attentive of head/hands connection, 100% of the time. Not just drifting in and out of that mindful attention. I am serious. So please, stay open-minded.

When you press the fingers against the chin instead of allowing the neck to be pushed back easily, press back strongly with the chin to RESIST the movement, and slow the movement of the neck backward and forward … right … d o w n.

In other words consciously press the chin into the hands as the hands press the head backward. Then press the jaw into the fingers as you lever the elbows back up again. Make it active rather than passive. If you think you’re doing this, then it’s likely you have constant contact, but I can guarantee that you can quite massively increase those reciprocal forces … otherwise this will simply not work.

Most people have the contact (most of the time) but it’s pretty passive. This action takes a lot more attention. Mark my words, this is placing a new focus on the interplay between head and arms. It also takes more energy and can (aka will) make Pranayama quite a lot more tiring.

When I have had a neck ache from sleeping funny, if I pay attention to the active pressing and resisting of head and hands I can feel the kinks iron out from 1 to half a dozen cycles.

Conversely, if I just try Pranayama without this technique, I literally cannot participate.

Blog number 4 in the series is going to help you with your backbends and introduce a neat thing you can do with your teeth (and it’s definitely not what you think), to make your backbends better and more satisfying.

So see you next week!

Breathe easy

Gabrielle 🙂

  • For more tips and techniques than you can poke a stick at, please take a look at Hot Yoga MasterClass THE manual written specifically to make your practice more satisfying than ever before! Check it out here:


PPS: Here’s the blog about shoulders you may want to look at to refresh your memory


PPPS. Here’s that video called A Transformational Technique For Your Practice, For Your Life that I referred to: