Smartphones and tablets are something without which you can’t live. You have them with you 24/7. Moreover, if you are a textaholic, you tend to spend extended hours texting messages by flexing your neck to look down at the device. Eventually, you have soreness in your neck muscles along with uncomfortable pain.
In some cases, the neck pain spreads to the adjoining shoulders or the back. You can bring your neck pain, shoulder pain, and back pain under control by performing certain yoga postures. These postures of yoga for neck pain efficiently work on the tension causing muscles and provide relief quickly with regular practice.
Neck pain is one of the top 5 pain-related health disorders in the U.S. with 10% to 20% of the country’s population reporting neck pain at least once.
Chronic neck pain, which is also known as a crick in the neck, stiff neck, and aching neck, leads to discomfort which can last from days to weeks and the pain may be due to malignant tumors.
How Can Yoga for Neck Pain Help You?
Neck pain is a prevalent condition nowadays. Due to wrong posture or sitting at the workplace for long hours, many people develop pain in the neck(1). The most immediate and pocket-friendly relief, in this case, can be provided by yoga exercises. Many yoga exercises give quick relief to the pain and ease the muscle tension.
Stiff neck caused due to prolonged work hours is treatable with the help of yoga. It results in a strengthening of muscles and an increase in flexibility. The timely cure is essential and inevitable as over the time a neck pain may develop into a severe physical problem.
This pain increases because of prolonged sitting positions causing tension in the neck, and it is essential to ease this tension; otherwise, it may result in a recurring headache, dizziness, and nausea. However, if the pain continues for many days, it is better to consult a physician.
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10 Yoga Poses for Neck Pain Relief
You may begin with basic exercises at the beginning, developing them further into advanced positions to give relief to your neck muscles. Let us look at ‘X’ Yoga postures for neck pain relief that will relax and strengthen your neck muscle:
- Neck Movement
- Fish Pose
- Rabbit Pose
- Cat Pose
- Cow Pose
- Extended Puppy Pose
- Thread and Needle Pose
- Bharadvaja’s Twist
- Mountain Pose
- Tree Pose
1. Neck Movement
It is the most basic yoga exercise(2) for stiff neck. For practicing this pose, sit straight with your hands placed on your knees and move your face from center to the right and then back to the center and then to the left. While running your head to the left/right breathe in and breathe out while moving to the center. Repeat this ten times on each side for instant relief.
You can perform this pose by moving your head up and down. Similarly, you will breathe in while moving your head up and breathe out while moving to the center. You can repeat it ten times in each direction for complete relaxation.
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2. Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
Fish pose Is one of the best yoga stretch for neck pain. It is quite effective in relaxing the muscles surrounding the cervical and thoracic spine. It also helps in expanding the chest and enables deep breathing.
To perform this yoga, lie down on a flat surface and stretch your neck upwards to a point when the crown of your head is on the floor. Avoid overstraining your throat as it may result in muscle ruptures.
3. Rabbit Pose (Sasakasana)
Sasakasana is excellent for neck pain as it stretches the back of the neck entirely and hence gives a soothing effect to the pain. To perform this asana, sit straight in Vajrasana placing your feet, calf and knees flat on the floor; while sitting, stretch the upper half in the front and while doing this lift your lower abdomen. Rest in this posture for 10 seconds, repeat this twice every day for muscle relaxation.
[Read: Acupuncture for Neck Pain Relief]
4. Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
Stand straight and bend down stretching both your hands forward. Place your knees on the floor and pull your whole body ahead in a way that you push your hips upward. Feel the stretch and hold in this position till the count of ten. Repeat this twice every day to relax your neck muscles.
5. Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
You can perform this pose in a similar way to the cat pose; the only difference is the fact that here the neck is lowered down when the body leans forward. Cat pose and cow pose are usually performed simultaneously to provide complete relaxation to the body.
6. Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
The extended puppy pose gives utmost relaxation to your back as it provides a deep stretch to your body, loosens muscle and relieves the ache. For this pose, sit on your knees with your calf and feet flat, with this, stretch your body forward and place your hands and forehead on the ground. Relax in this position for ten seconds. Repeat this twice every day for better results.
7. Thread and Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana)
Lie on a flat surface in a similar way like extended puppy pose and instead of stretching your arms in the front, pull it upwards with the right/left hand in the right/left direction and the other side in the front. This posture releases the tension between shoulders and shoulder blades. It twists the spine from neck to lower back and hence relieves any stress caused in your back.
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8. Bharadvaja’s Twist
Sit straight with your legs stretched in the front. Shift your body weight to the left side and fold your right knee under your hips, now shift the body weight to your right and fold your left leg over the right knee pointing outside, look on your right. Hold in this position for 20 seconds and repeat the same on the other side. Repeat this exercise thrice every day for better command and great results.
9. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Stand straight with your toes parallel to each other. Maintain shoulder distance gap between the two. With firm balance in your feet and knees, lower the upper half of your body in the front. Stretch it to a position when you place your hands on the floor. In this pose, stretch your tailbone as high as possible to give complete relaxation to your body.
10. Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
In tadasana, the entire body weight shifts to one leg, the other leg folds at the thigh. In this pose the hands are stretched upward in namaskar pose and meditation is practiced focusing on one point to maintain equilibrium.
[Read: Home Remedies for Neck Pain]
Few Poses of Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain
In many cases, neck pain is often accompanied by shoulder pain(3) due to long hours of work. Incorrect posture or having the same position for long may result in the development of soreness in the neck and shoulder area. Try the following poses for relief from neck and shoulder pain:
Sit straight in a comfortable position. Lengthen your spine every time you inhale/exhale. With every inhale, feel your chest expand and on exhalation, press your stomach. Repeat these ten times, lengthening your spine to the maximum.
Lie on your belly, place the palm parallel to the chest. With a slow and deep inhalation, lift the upper half in a way that stretches the spine. Repeat this ten times for complete relaxation of your neck and shoulder.
[Read: Yoga for Shoulder Pain]
Kneel with both your arms overhead. On the exhalation, tighten your belly and bend your upper half. As you fold your body in the forward direction, bring your chest to your knee before you lift your hips.
Few Poses of Yoga for Back and Neck Pain
The pain which starts with the neck region and incorrect posture usually develops into back pain as well. The reason is that the muscle soreness causes stiffness in your back and hence backache develops. Let us look at some Yoga poses which helps in back and neck pain:
Seated Spinal Twist Pose
To perform this pose, sit on the floor and keep both feet straight. Bend forward the left knee and place the left foot beside the right foot. Stretch your back, keep your right elbow on the right knee and left palm on the ground. Tilt your torso on the left side as much as your body allows. Hold this position for 15-20 seconds. Repeat twice on both sides for relaxation.
Cow Face Arms Pose
Sit on your knees, bend the right arm, and bring it behind your neck then twist the left arm and bring it back. Stretch both your hands and lock them together. Hold this pose for 15-20 seconds and repeat with alternate hands.
Stand upright and keep your feet parallel, place your hands on your back. With each inhalation, bend forward, and lower your hands. Lock your knees and bring your head as close to the ground as possible. Hold in this final pose for a few seconds to relax your back and neck.
[Also Read: How to Relieve Neck Pain]
Contraindicated Poses of Yoga for Neck Pain
Contraindication indicates that a particular yoga pose is not suitable for people suffering from a medical condition. Contraindicated poses may worsen your pain and hence is not advisable to be practiced. In the case of people suffering from neck pain, the following poses are not suitable:
- Big Toe Pose
- Boat Pose
- Bow Pose
- Bridge Pose
- Camel Pose
- Shoulder stand
As these poses lay extreme tension in your neck area, it is essential to avoid these poses if you have neck pain. Performing these poses may worsen your pain.
It is essential to understand the potential of your body. Do not push your body on one go-to attain the perfection of any pose. Yoga injuries are, and as the advanced levels increase, the chances of injuries increase too. Hence it is essential to understand the capacity of your body and thereby perform yoga.
Yoga for neck pain provides quick and long-term relief. Regular practice of yoga may better your posture, and along with it, it may also regulate the inner functioning of your body much better than ever. Since most poses are performed in sync with breath so it also helps to control internal diseases that may have