Ear To Shoulder Stretch (Neck Rolls): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Ear To Shoulder Stretch (Neck Rolls) – Sharp Muscle
6 min read
Updated: March 14, 2023

Ear To Shoulder Stretch, also known as Neck Rolls, are a popular and well-known stretch for relieving neck tension, while neck rolls and stretches can be great for relieving tension.

The pose is considered a warm-up yoga pose to prepare the body for a more intense yoga pose and yoga flow.

There are many activities in the lives that can contribute to neck pain and stiffness. Learning to do neck rolls and taking some time to check the alignment of your neck can both reduce your discomfort and reduce your risk of future pain by improving flexibility.

Neck roll can disrupt blood circulation to the brain. The brain receives blood from arteries in the front of the neck (left and right carotids) and the back of the neck (vertebral arteries). The vertebral arteries make their way through the back of the cervical vertebrae and pool their blood along the carotid in the circle of Willis, which distributes blood throughout the brain.

If the carotid arteries are significantly blocked with plaque, and you roll the neck, putting pressure on the vertebral arteries, blood circulation to the brain will decrease. This can cause dizziness or even a temporary loss of consciousness, which can lead to a fall, along with possible injuries from the impact.

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Known as:Sukhasana with Neck Stretch, Ear To Shoulder Stretch, Neck Rolls, Seated Ear To Shoulder Pose, Sukhasana Ear To Shoulder, Easy Pose with Neck Stretch, Simple Cross-Legged Pose
Type:Stretching, sitting
Eye closed
Indications:Neck, hips, knees, ankles, stress, anxiety
Contraindications:Knee injury


Sukhasana with Neck Stretch

The Sanskrit name of Easy Pose is Sukhasana (soo-KAHS-uh-nuh), which literally means “good space pose.”

Benefits of Ear To Shoulder Stretch (Neck Rolls)

The neck is very stiff in the morning, says Fowler. Warm up the neck and attend to any sleep-induced kinks by doing some neck rolls. It will also help you relax and focus on your breathing.

However, the physical and mental benefits are listed below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Stretches the neck, ankles, knees, and hips
    • Correct the spine alignment
    • Enhances the flexibility throughout shoulder, upper back, and chest
    • Opens the shoulders, neck, and hips
    • Reliefs the tension, stress, and pain from the shoulder and neck
  2. Mental Benefits:

Step-by-step Ear To Shoulder Stretch (Neck Rolls)


Sit on the edge of a hard blanket, spread the legs in front of the body and sit up straight. Then, cross the legs over the shins in front of you. If the hips are too tight, you can sit on a bolster or yoga block. With knees wide, place each foot under the opposite knee. Turn the legs towards the torso.


Balance the weight evenly across the sit bones. Align head, neck, and spine. Lengthen the spine, but soften the neck. Relax the legs and thighs.


Exhale, drop the chin towards the chest, keeping the elbows and shoulders back. As you inhale, lift the head back towards the center. Repeat this sequence 5 times and then bring the head in the middle.


On the next exhale, slowly release the right ear towards the right shoulder. Inhaling bring the head back to the center. Exhale again while releasing the left ear towards the left shoulder. Repeat this sequence 5 times and then bring the head back to the center.

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Lean back and change legs cross. Repeat the process 2-4 times, then rest.

Anatomy engaging tips and techniques

The ear to shoulder stretch primarily targets the muscles in the neck and upper shoulders. Here are some tips and techniques to help engage these muscles during the stretch:

  1. Start with good posture: Before you begin the stretch, make sure you’re sitting or standing up straight with your shoulders relaxed and your chin level. This will help you engage the right muscles and avoid putting unnecessary strain on your neck.
  2. Focus on the side you’re stretching: As you lower your ear towards your shoulder, focus on feeling the stretch in the muscles on the opposite side of your neck. For example, if you’re lowering your left ear towards your left shoulder, you should feel the stretch on the right side of your neck.
  3. Use your hand for support: You can use your hand to gently support your head and guide it towards your shoulder. Place your left hand on the right side of your head as you lower your left ear towards your left shoulder. Use gentle pressure to increase the stretch, but don’t pull or push your head.
  4. Breathe deeply: As you hold the stretch, take deep, slow breaths. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. This can help you relax and increase the stretch.
  5. Be mindful of your body: Pay attention to how your body feels during the stretch. If you feel any pain or discomfort, stop the stretch and adjust your position. You should feel a gentle stretch, but not any sharp or intense pain.
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Common mistakes

Here are the five common mistakes people make when performing the ear to shoulder stretch and how to fix them:

  1. Tilting the head too far: One of the most common mistakes is tilting the head too far, which can put excessive strain on the neck muscles and cause pain. To fix this, focus on keeping your movements slow and controlled, and avoid pushing your head beyond your natural range of motion.
  2. Shrugging the shoulder: Another common mistake is shrugging the shoulder up towards the ear as you lower your head. This can cause tension in the shoulder muscles and limit the stretch in the neck. To fix this, focus on keeping your shoulder relaxed and down as you lower your head.
  3. Arching the back: Some people tend to arch their back as they lower their head towards their shoulder, which can cause strain on the lower back. To fix this, keep your back straight and your core engaged as you perform the stretch.
  4. Holding the stretch too long: Holding the stretch for too long can cause fatigue in the neck muscles and lead to discomfort. To fix this, aim to hold the stretch for 10 to 15 seconds on each side, and repeat the stretch as needed.
  5. Jerky movements: Making jerky or sudden movements can cause strain on the neck muscles and lead to pain. To fix this, focus on keeping your movements slow, controlled, and smooth. This will help you engage the right muscles and avoid putting undue strain on your neck.

Precautions and contraindications

  • Neck pain can sometimes be the result of injury or degenerative changes in the spine.
  • If you have neck pain with dizziness or nausea, please do not attempt the pose!
  • Neck pain can have many possible causes, so make sure to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor before starting any yoga posture.
  • If you have any medical concerns, talk to a doctor before practicing the mudra.
  • Avoid practicing this pose if you have a knee injury.
  • If the hips are too tight, it can be difficult to cross the legs.
  • Never force the pose.

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