Yoga Relief from Neck and Shoulder Pain

Lillah Schwartz
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Special Health Conditions , Yoga

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NOTE: I received a free review copy of this DVD from the web site

This DVD is presented by Iyengar yoga instructor Lillah Schwartz and produced by her studio, Lighten Up Yoga and Healing Arts. It is designed to provide a self-help approach to relieving neck and shoulder pain through strengthening and improving posture. In the 40-minute instructional segment, Schwartz takes the viewer through twelve basic, therapeutic yoga poses, placing a strong emphasis on form and alignment, pointing out common mistakes, and offering modifications to use if needed. Then, she provides a 20-minute practice sequence which allows the user to move through postures in a more flowing session with less instruction.

The Main Menu of the DVD includes options for Play All, Chapter Selection, and 20 Minute Practice Sequence. The chapters of the instructional segment are as follows:

*The Basic Twist
*Yogi Curl Ups
*Neck Toners
*Fish Pose
*Fish Pose – Wall
*Cat Cow Pose
*Full Down Face Dog
*Dog Prep
*Down Dog to Lunges
*Elbows on Chair
*Proper Sitting Posture
*Eagle Pose Protraction & Retraction
*Cows Head Pose
*Chair Twist
*Door Chest Hang
*Savasana – Corpse Pose

Schwartz incorporates several props into the practice, including two blankets, a block, a strap, and a chair. Also, as you can see from the descriptions above, she uses a wall to modify several of the postures. Both the tutorial and the practice are taught by Schwartz alone in an outdoor setting with soft music playing in the background. Although Schwartz’s instructions are given via voiceover, during the tutorial segment, she provides brief live introductions at the start of each chapter/pose.

I am someone who seems to have chronic tightness in the upper back, shoulders, and neck—perhaps due to having a job that requires me to sit all day, possibly because I also spend 1 ½ hours in the car five days a week to get to and from that job. Whatever the reason, I have been to physical therapy as well as have tried all kinds of therapeutic yoga practices which target this area, and I’ve definitely found a new favorite in Yoga: Relief for Neck and Shoulder Pain. The simple sequence of postures is extremely well done, going from very gentle stretches such as the reclined twist to more active one like the door chest hang and eagle arms (why doesn’t every yoga DVD for neck and shoulders include this pose?). Also, the 20-minute practice length makes this session short enough to be conveniently performed on a regular basis—Schwartz recommends daily until you attain relief and then every other day for maintenance (she also suggests reviewing the instructional portion monthly to refresh your technique). The only (minor) negative that I have to note is that the DVD case states “A Convenient Travel Pamphlet Included”; unfortunately, this item was missing from my package.

In summary, I would highly recommend this DVD to address mild tightness, pain, and discomfort issues throughout the entire upper back, shoulders, and neck. For comparison sake, I would rate the intensity level as a bit more active than the Neck and Shoulder practices included on Barbara Benagh’s Yoga for Stress Relief, but less energetic than the latest release from Anusara yoga instructor Desirée Rumbaugh, Yoga to the Rescue for Neck & Shoulders.

Instructor Comments:
Lillah was quite pleasant; she seemed down-to-earth, and she instructed well.

Beth C (aka toaster)


The DVD has 40 minutes of yoga instruction followed by a 20 minute yoga practice which focuses on the neck and shoulders. Each pose has it's own chapter. The 20 minute practice also is a separate chapter. Props used are blankets, a strap, a block, a rolled up mat, a doorway, a wall, and a chair. During the instruction segment Lillah explains common mistakes for each pose. I found that very helpful. The poses are:

Jathara parivatanasana(Supine twist)
Yogi curl ups
Neck Toners
Matsyasana prep(Fish pose prep)
Cat/Cow pose
Adho mukha svanasana (Downward Dog)
Elbows on chair
Garudasana (Eagle) - arms only
Gomukhasana (Cow Face pose) - arms only
Bharadvajasana (Seated twist) - in a chair
Purvottanasana (Doorway chest hang)

The DVD is filmed outside and you can see lots of pretty Fall foliage. It also comes with a booklet with three different sequences and instructions. It didn't have any music. I think I may have heard a bird. The scenery reminded me of some Classical Stretch episodes. Also, it is just the instructor alone, no class.

I really liked Lillah, her instruction, and the sequence of asanas. My neck and upper back felt good afterwards and I had a lot of opening in my chest and armpit area.

Instructor Comments:
Lillah Schwartz is an Iyengar teacher in Asheville, NC. She has been studying Iyengar yoga for over 25 years and her experience comes across in her teaching.