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During the colder weather it is easy to unconsciously tense up, especially in the upper body. Areas like our neck and shoulders can get stiff, leading to discomfort.

One of the  best ways to stay relaxed and flexible during winter is to maintain a regular yoga practice. Hot yoga or warm vinyasa flow are good options to keep your whole body moving comfortably.

These four relaxing upper-body yoga poses release tension in the neck, shoulders and spine, to ensure you stay balanced, flexible and strong.

Standing forward bend (Uttanasana)

This is a wonderful, gravity-fuelled stretch for the shoulders and neck. The key is to let your whole upper body hang loose and heavy. This will relax the muscles and give you a light warm-up for the more active poses.


Twist your way to a more relaxed upper body

Wide-legged forward bend (Prasarita padottanasana)

The wide-legged forward bend lets gravity stretch your spine and neck, creating space and flexibility. The key is to take a wide stance then fold forward from the hips, keeping your spine straight and letting the weight of your head pull you towards the floor. Keep your belly tight, thighs engaged and weight on your toes to permit maximum extension.

Spine Twisting Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

It is important to work your neck through a full range of motion: up, down and side-to-side. Spine twisting pose is fantastic for increasing the flexibility of your whole spine, right through the top of the neck. The important thing to remember is to keep your head level. Don’t throw your chin over your shoulder, it can do more harm than good.

Child’s pose (Balasana)

Round out your upper-body mini-yoga session with a meditative rest in child’s pose. It opens your upper body and brings natural relaxation. You can vary it by alternating between arms-forward and arms back. Mentally, it is also a soothing pose, helping relieve the stress and distractions that cause you to tense up in the first place.

Read more: Seasonal yoga adaptations, Benefits of forward bends