Yoga for neck pain
Can yoga help with neck pain? Here are eight poses that may help. By Arianna Langton
Technology has become a huge part of our lives, especially during the pandemic. As we are forced to spend hours cramped up and hunched over our mobiles, tablets, and computers, this has resulted in a lot more neck and back pains. Since existing without technology is practically impossible in this era, we need to figure out ways that will help reduce neck and back strains by learning ways to realign our posture to release tension and relieve pain.
CAUSES OF NECK PAIN:
Neck pain typically results from damage to the soft tissue. So, if your neck feels achy or stiff it is probably due to a minor sprain. This can be due to multiple reasons such as: sitting in a slouching position for long periods; repeatedly looking down at your phone or any other object; sleeping in an awkward position; tensed muscles due to stress; if you experienced a fall; prolonged sports injury.
If you are experiencing extreme pain, it is best to see a doctor. On the other hand, if your pain is mild, you can take steps to reduce it, but, as always, please take care and proceed with caution. (This article is in no way intended as a replacement for medical advice or care). Yoga is one way to reduce neck pain. It helps to stretch your muscles but is gentle enough to not put any further strain on your neck. Here are some yoga poses that may help relieve neck pain.
1. Cat-Cow Pose
Cat and cow pose helps to address multiple causes of neck strain. It works by flexion and extension of the neck.
- Start by getting on all fours with your palms and knees grounded on the floor.
- Then breathe in and allow your belly to drop.
- As you do that, look at the ceiling and slightly stretch your head upwards. Hold that position for a few seconds.
- Now exhale and round your back as you slowly tuck your head inwards.
- Allow your chin to touch your chest.
- Repeat these movements for at least a minute.
2. Thread The Needle Pose
This pose works by twisting your cervical spine.
- Start by getting on all fours.
- While still on your knees, lift your right hand and slide it under your left with your palm facing up.
- Push your left hand into the ground to support your weight.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds.
- Release into child’s pose before repeating on the other side.
3. Standing Forward Bend Pose
This is a yoga pose that is taught to every beginner. It helps release neck and shoulder tension.
- Start by standing upright with your feet facing forward.
- Now slowly reach for your toes as you move down gradually while breathing in.
- Tuck your chin and stop when your hands reach your feet. Hold this position for a few seconds.
- As you exhale, release and slowly roll back up to a standing position.
4. Sphinx Pose
Sphinx pose is a backbend in yoga. It helps by strengthening your spine and stretching your shoulders.
- Start by lying down on your stomach with your elbows tucked under your shoulders.
- Now press your palms into the ground.
- Start to gradually lift yourself off the ground as you stare straight ahead.
- Hold this for two minutes as you feel the stretch in your back.
5. Fish Pose
Fish pose helps by extending your neck and back.
- Start by lying flat on your back with your arms to your side.
- Stretch out your leg with your feet close together.
- Inhale and start to lift your chest by pressing on your forearms into the ground.
- Bend your neck backwards and touch the top of your head to the ground.
- Hold this pose for 15 to 30 seconds before releasing.
6. Neck Rolls
This is one of the most popular neck stretches that is effective and easy to do. It works by extending and flexing your neck and shoulders.
- Start by sitting comfortably with your legs crossed.
- Extend and straighten your back.
- Now start by rolling your head to the side till your ear touches your adjacent shoulder.
- Use one hand (very gently) to push your neck lightly to stretch it further and the other hand to push your shoulder in the opposite direction. Hold for a few seconds.
- Move your head down and slowly repeat this on the other side.
7. Melting Heart Posture
This is an advanced yoga pose that beginners may not be able to perform. The pose can relieve tension by stretching out your back and neck.
- Start by getting on all fours.
- Your knees should be right underneath your hips throughout the pose.
- Now stretch your arms forward, shoulders width apart.
- With your arms stretched out, create a curve with your back.
- Hold this position for a few seconds before returning on all fours.
8. Bridge Pose
Bridge pose is great for stretching the back of your neck.
- Start by lying flat on the floor.
- You can place a folded blanket to cushion your shoulders and protect your neck.
- Place the sole of your feet grounded on the floor about 6 inches apart from your tailbone.
- Breathe in and lift your hips off the floor.
- Both your arms should be flat by your side for support.
- Hold this for about 2-3 minutes.
- Slowly exhale and lower your hips down to the ground.
These eight yoga poses are some of the most effective ways to help stretch your neck and prevent ‘tech neck’, an increasing medical problem in our digital world. These simple poses can be incorporated into your daily life and can all be done at home without any equipment. Try fitting in 10 minutes of stretching every day to treat your neck and shoulder strains.
Arianna Langton is a journalist and content writer specialising in health and wellness.
*Please take care when undertaking any new exercise and seek the advice of a medical professional in case of any doubt.