Modern technology is great for so many aspects of life, but it causes one major problem: more neck pain. The positions that we must sit in at a desk contribute to posture problems, which lead to misaligned spines. We also suffer more stress and discomfort in our shoulders and necks.
Even if we don’t sit at a desk, neck pain can be a problem. We tend to sleep in awkward positions or sit on the couch in poor ways for our spines.
Neck pain doesn’t just cause problems with this part of our body. We’re more at risk of developing headaches and pain in other parts of our body. Everything is connected to this top part of our spine.
So, it’s time to find relief. The great news is that yoga will help to strengthen and support the neck. If you suffer from neck pain daily, you need to try the following nine yoga exercises. No, you don’t need to join a yoga class to benefit!
Do the Stretching Cat Daily
One of the first exercises you will want to do is the stretching cat. Start on all fours and curl your spine upwards, drawing your head downwards towards your knees. You will stretch the back of your neck out.
Now lift your head up and push your chest towards the floor. You should get an arch to your back and stretch out the front of your neck.
As you get used to this, you can take the back-arching part of the exercise one step further. Push yourself forward on your hands and allow your hips to sit on the floor. Keep your upper body off the floor, so you have a full arch in your back. Look up to the ceiling, stretching your neck out fully.
Return to the curled-up cat position. Keep yourself in the positions for 30 seconds to really allow the muscles chance to stretch fully.
Do 10 cycles of the exercise, breathing evenly and slowly at the same time. This helps to clear your mind and focus better, as well as ease neck pain.
Try Out the Child Pose
Stay on all fours for the next exercise. You want to do a yoga technique that is called the child’s pose. It helps to stretch the whole spine out, easing tension and improving posture. This is another excellent yoga exercise for reducing stress in your whole body and mind.
From all fours, move, so you are sitting on your feet, keeping your hands where they are. You’ll feel yourself stretching the whole back and shoulders out. Keep your head down towards the floor, helping to stretch the back of your neck out.
Hold the position for 30 seconds, while breathing naturally. Pull yourself back up into the all fours position and then repeat the child’s pose 10 times. You can hold the pose for longer if you would like.
If you have high blood pressure, you will want to avoid the child’s pose as it does lead to further blood pressure issues.
Switch Up to the Thunderbolt Exercise
You can develop on the child’s pose and do the thunderbolt exercise instead. This is an asymmetrical exercise that helps to stretch out one side of your neck, so you’ll want to alternate the side as you do it.
Start by kneeling up with your arms behind your back. Slowly drop forward with your body across your knees and head on the floor. Your head will need to turn to one side so it can lay flat. Keep your butt on your heels, so your butt is higher than your hips, and you keep a straight back.
Hold the position for 30 seconds to a minute and then return to a kneeling up position. You can finish off by lifting one arm up into the air when you straighten your whole back out and turn your head back to looking forward.
Try Out the Cobra Pose
It’s time to lay down flat on your front and try out the cobra pose. It’s another asymmetrical pose, so you’ll need to remember to do it on both sides to get the full benefit.
Start with your head turning one side as you lay down. Put your arms behind your back and then lift your chest off the ground. Look forward as you do this and bring one hand around to touch your forehead. You’ll feel the arm on your back and the stretch in your neck.
Lower to the ground, facing your head the opposite way you had it. Repeat this, but bringing the opposite hand to your forehead instead.
This is one that you need to remember you’re breathing on. It’s easy to hold your breath, but this causes more stress to build up in your body!
Hold the pose for if you can before be returning to the laying down position. The more often you do this, the easier you will find it to hold the pose for longer.
Lay Your Ear on Your Shoulder
It’s time to move into the sitting position for this exercise. Cross your legs and place your hands on your knees. Keep your back straight and really focus on stretching it out to support your alignment.
Keep the head facing forward, so your spine works straight up to the top of your neck. Tilt the head to one side, so your ear rests on your shoulder. You should feel the pull in the side of your neck up the other shoulder. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
It’s important not to force the ear actually to sit on your shoulder. You don’t want to pull the muscles in your neck but stretch them. Let the weight of your head ease the muscles out and unwind the knots.
Watch out for letting your head tilt forwards or backward. You run the risk of injuring your neck by stretching the wrong muscles out. You’ll know if you do this from where you feel the stretching of the neck muscles. The pull should be straight from your shoulder, across the top and then up into the ear.
You can develop this slightly once you get used to the position. With one arm, pull your head down gently, placing the other hand on your shoulder. This helps to deepen the stretch without causing injury.
Pull Your Arm Across Your Body
This asymmetrical pose is commonly used in cool-down exercises for those who train. It’s useful for stretching both the back and the neck, and something that you can do at work, at home, and even at the gym.
Remain sitting with your legs crossed and your spine straight. Pull one arm across the chest, keeping it straight and avoiding a twist in your back. Place your other arm either just below or just above your elbow—do not place it directly on the joint!
Squeeze your arm into your chest. You should feel the pull across your triceps and into your shoulder blade.
Turn your head in the opposite direction to the way your arm is stretched out as if you’re looking over that pulled out shoulder. You’ll feel the stretch in your neck as you do it.
Hold the position for 30 seconds and then return your arms to the side. Repeat this on the other side and keep doing this until you’ve done 10 repetitions on both sides.
Try Out the Corpse Pose
Okay, so this pose sounds a little morbid, but it is one of the best for stretching your neck and easing neck pain. No matter what you’ve done, you’ll be able to do this pose.
You simply lay on your back and remain there. You want your legs and arms outstretched, with a straight line running from your feet to the top of your head. The whole point is to focus on keeping the alignment in the spine.
Avoid crossing your legs at all, as this will just cause your spine to misalign while lying in the position.
If you find it painful on your lower back to lay like this, then you can put some support under your upper back. This helps to take some of the pressure off the tendons and arteries in your lower back.
Do not do this pose if you are pregnant. You shouldn’t lay on your back at all, especially in the second and third trimesters. There is an artery in your back that the baby can rest on when you lay on your back, causing problems for your blood flow.
When in this position, remain as still as possible. You want to remain like this for up to 15 minutes.
Place Your Legs Up on the Wall
This is a slight adaption to your corpse pose. You want to lay flat on your back but with your legs against the wall. It’s almost like you’re sitting on the wall!
Allow your arms to reach out to the sides and keep your face looking up at the ceiling. This helps to keep your neck in line with the rest of your spine.
You can support your lower back with the use of a rolled-up blanket under the arch. This is useful if you have a large arch in your back or suffer from any lower back pain.
Let your whole body relax while in this position. Focus on your breathing and remain like this for up to 10 minutes. If you start to feel numb in the legs, get out of the position and allow the blood flow to return to them.
Like the corpse pose, avoid this exercise if you are pregnant.
Do the Bridge Pose
Finally, it’s time to move onto the bridge pose. This involves you laying on your back. Plant your feet firmly on the floor about shoulder-width apart and place your hands on your hips for support.
Push your lower back and butt off the floor, so only your shoulders, head, hands, and feet remain in contact. You will feel your thigh muscles and core working to keep you in the position, as your upper back, shoulders, and neck are stretched and supported.
Hold the position for 30 seconds, keeping your chin tucked in. Lower down slowly and then take a 15-30 second break. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
You don’t want to move your feet while you’re in this pose, as that will disrupt your spinal alignment. Make sure you’re ready to move straight into the bridge. While in the bridge, keep a straight line from your chest to your knees.
Again, this is an exercise you shouldn’t do if you’re pregnant.
Work on Your Alignment
It’s important to focus on your spinal alignment, and you can do that by working on your posture. Think about the way you sit at work and how that can throw your spine out of line. When at your desk, keep both feet firm on the floor, sitting on the upper butt against the back of the chair. You can purchase supports to help protect the natural arch in your spine.
Get your computer so that the screen is at eye level. You shouldn’t have to tip your head forward or backward to see your screen. You also want your desk high to be just right for resting your arms on it. It’s also worth investing in cushioned rolls to support your wrists on the computer keyboard.
When standing, make sure you keep your shoulders back and your head up. Don’t walk looking down. Not only are you preventing yourself from seeing where you go when you look down, but you’re causing your neck to stretch in ways that are unnatural.
With better alignment and the above yoga poses, you will find that you ease off and relax the muscles. Your posture is improved, and you won’t suffer as much neck pain daily.
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