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Some people have such built-up tension in the superficial muscles of the neck and chest that it is well-nigh impossible to access hidden muscles like the pectoralis minor without some much-needed prep work. My student Ellen has a very forward head posture and rounded shoulders, and a lot of tension around her jaw and neck. We worked together with releasing top-most muscle layer, the platysma (a thin sheath that spans the jawbone to the chest), with the Marlon Brando stretch (check it out on the 5 minute Quick Fix for Neck video and also below). This movement also stretches the scalenes, which are the muscles responsible for laterally flexing and rotating the head and neck. After releasing her platysma and scalenes, Ellen was able to better balance her head over her shoulder girdle as well as relax her shoulders, creating better posture and the ability to breathe more easily.

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Dawn Adams

Dawn has been practicing yoga since the mid-1990s. She took her first class at the Alameda Yoga Station in 1996 and has since studied under experienced teachers such as Sandy Blaine, JoAnn Lyons, and Donald Moyer. Dawn graduated from the Advanced Studies Program at the Yoga Room in Berkeley in 2009 and she continues to deepen her personal practice. Yoga has become an integral part of her life, especially because of its nurturing and centering aspects. Through practicing yoga, she has found that undoing is just as important as doing. In her teaching, she hopes to instill a sense of adventure and exploration of yoga, with a focus on finding balance and joy through practice. Most recently, Dawn found Yoga Tune Up and, fascinated by the functional approach to movement, completed the YTU Level 1 Certification. She is excited to share her unique approach to practice.

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Dustin Brown

I find I hold so much tension in this area, and it is often neglected I massage and treatments. The balls and this method has really helped me release tension from blocking chokes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as well as built up tension from bad posture. Great article thank you fore sharing!


Thank you for talking about the scalenes in your article. I think they are a forgotten muscle. Also that you talked about releasing the superficial muscles.


Fantastic! so many excercises to release the tension in the muscles. I tried this one and feels great.

Linh Taylor

I really like these neck stretches, especially at the office. Considering the average human’s head is approximately 8-11 lbs, it’s a lot of weight for the cervical spines and neck muscles to support. These stretches work wonder for the tired neck after many hours of sitting in front of the computer

Geoff Brown

I think that a lot of people neglect the massaging the neck. Perhaps, they are comfortable with massaging the front of their neck. I have used the YTU Therapy Balls on the scalenes and they have been very effective too!


Ohhh, love this neck exercise to manually assist with releasing tension. As a speech pathologist, I work with patients with voice disorders, which always involves muscle tension in the neck/throat area which is so difficult to reduce for some people. I can’t wait to apply and share this “Brando” exercise!


I really like this stretch and wouldn’t have known this to be a way to stretch the outer most layer of my neck muscles! After two bad car accidents I have definitely taken the time to focus on strengthening my neck muscles which were injured and weak. But now I realize that I need to incorporate some stretching into my routine as well. Thanks!

Lisa Highfield

I am short and am always looking up so I love this stretch but find I need to stabilize the back of my neck more when I am not mindful of how my head is tilting and balance it out stretching the back neck fascia as well.

Heidi Knapp

Ahhhhhh this feels so good!!! I cannot wait to add this to my yoga classes. I am one of those that has had the forward head tilt going on since college, the classic “yes I went to college, how could you tell?” I have my college go through neck movements for this same reason, but I love how this involves self manipulation which opens up yet another physical and psychological response. Can’t wait to use it.


Many of my piano students have rounded shoulders and are quite tensed around the neck. It is very useful for me to know that instead of just telling them to relax and to sit upright I can simply use this nice exercise before they start playing the piano.

Vrinda Liza Eapen

So true and so useful. Most yoga practitioners rarely think about the front of the neck and manual manipulation. This has been very useful to myself and my students.