I don’t know about you, but my weak spot is undoubtedly my neck.
It’s where the tension goes when I’m stressed. It’s suffered misalignment for years, given the work I do day in and day out on an 11-inch laptop—typically not set up in an ergonomically correct way.
I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve woken up from a night of sleep, in which my neck is wracked with pain for having slept in some weird, twisted position.
If you’re like me, you could probably use a go-to yoga sequence to help alleviate neck pain and strain. Which is exactly what we’re going to cover here—8 yoga asanas for neck pain.
Let’s get to it!
Easy Seated Pose (Sukhasana)
I love starting in easy pose, to simply bring my awareness to the alignment of the neck. Close the eyes and tune into the breath.
Then practice lengthening the neck as you breathe, while sensing its alignment with the spine. (Learn more in 10 Ways to Ease Back Pain Through Alignment, Asana and Ayurveda.)
Pull your chin ever so slightly down and in, and breathe into the back of the neck, relaxing the neck muscles as you do.
This one’s a no-brainer for neck pain, and it feels so good.
Bring your right ear to your right shoulder and pause, as you breathe into the left side of the neck.
Circle the neck forward, stopping along the way if you feel an area that needs attention. Pause with your head forward and breathe into the back of the neck.
Now, circle the head to the left again, stopping in any place that needs attention. Pause as you stretch the right side of the neck, breathing and elongating those muscles.
Now, tilt your head back, stretching the front side of the neck.
Bring your head to center, and repeat, circling in the opposite direction.
Cat and cow poses are an excellent couple of postures to stretch the neck muscles, and get rid of the kinks.
As you stretch your neck and spine through cat/cow, bring your awareness to your neck. Breathe into it as you move.
Visualize areas of tension release, and stay in each position for as long as feels necessary to work out those aches and pains. (Learn more in 4 Yoga Poses for a Strong Back.)
Do several rounds of cat/cow. Go slow, and breathe deeply.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Cobra pose is great for neck pain prevention because it helps strengthen the neck muscles. Stronger muscles support and help prevent neck pain over the long run.
As you lie on your belly and lift your chest up and into the pose, focus on elongating the neck and spine, and strengthening all the muscles of the back body.
Hold the pose and breathe for a few moments. Rest, and repeat. (Learn more in Exhaling Muscle Pain & Tension: 3 Benefits of Yogic Breathing.)
Sphinx Pose (Salamba bhujangasana)
I’ve always loved sphinx pose. It’s effective and relaxing. Sphinx pose works the spine and shoulders, which support the neck.
As you come into sphinx pose, breathe into the spine as it strengthens. Breathe into the shoulders as they open. You may wish to move the head from side-to-side.
Do whatever feels right in the moment. And don’t forget to breathe deeply to help the posture work its magic.
Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana)
Rabbit pose is perfect for alleviating neck issues, especially if you practice it often.
As you come to your knees, and then bend forward, while placing your weight on your head as you raise the hips to the sky—you can actually feel the back of the neck muscles stretching, extending, and lengthening.
Don’t forget to grasp hold of your heels with your hands to reap the full benefit of the pose.
Hold rabbit for several breaths, feeling an opening happen in the thoracic and cervical spine. Fold a blanket under your knees for added comfort.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Standing forward bend is a surprisingly beneficial posture for neck pain. As you bend forward, it’s easy to feel gravity help alleviate tension and elongate muscles—especially in the back of the neck. (Learn more in Bend Without Breaking: 10 Yoga Poses to Increase Flexibility.)
Interlace your fingers while placing the hands on the back of the head to help lengthen the neck even further. Stay here for several breaths.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Last but certainly not least, child’s pose is another keeper of a pose when it comes to neck health. As you rest in child’s pose, feel how neck tension naturally falls away.
Not only is child’s pose known to alleviate neck pain, it’s also helpful in getting rid of headaches.
Luxuriate in child’s pose for a little bit each day. There’s no need to do much here. (Learn more in Child's Pose: 4 Reminders You're Never Too Old (or Too Advanced) for This Yoga Posture.)
Just breathe, and know that your neck is getting ample restoration as you do.
When you think about it, all yoga asanas are beneficial for the neck because they help us improve our posture—breath by breath.
Yoga gets us out of repetitive movement patterns—the ones we learn from being hunched over computers, cell phones, and other devices.
Support your neck health by choosing a few (or all) of these postures to practice each day.
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