Neck pains are really… a pain in the neck.
It might not seem like a big issue, but if you do experience them, we both know how it can really slow you down throughout the day.
The constant nagging pain in your neck keeps you from doing the little things in life such as turning your neck to look for something. It also affects your mood and emotions throughout the day.
No one’s ever happy having to deal with constant pain, right?
Practicing yoga poses is one of the ways to relieve neck pain. If you practice them frequently and consistently, they’re going to improve your neck’s flexibility, reduce stiffness and prevent from causing more pain.
Below are 6 yoga poses that you can easily practice anytime, anywhere to relieve neck pain!
1. Cat Pose and Cow Pose
Ever seen a cat just stretching on its own and it just looks so relaxing? Well, prepare yourself to feel just as good as any cat stretch!
The cat pose is simple and easy to do in the comfort of your own home. You’ll be required to be on your hands and knees as you enter this pose. Be sure to always fo focus on your spine and neck as you inhale and exhale.
One of the main benefits of the Cat Pose is that it stretches your back torso and neck. It also helps to give a gentle massage to your spine and belly organs.
If you’re struggling to round the top of your upper back, you can always ask a friend or yoga buddy to lay hand above and between your shoulder blades. It will help you to easily recognize the muscles you should be activating in that area.
The Cat Pose is often paired with the Cow Pose (which is the next pose!) on the inhale for a flowing vinyasa.
The Cow Pose is a great way to warm up the spine. What it does is it helps to stretch the front torso and neck while providing a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs.
It is usually sequenced with the Cat Pose on the exhale for a gentle vinyasa. While the Cat Pose rounds the back during inhale, the Cow Pose brings the chest towards the ceiling and allows the belly to sink downwards to the floor.
To protect your neck in this pose, make sure to broaden your shoulders blades away from each other. You should also draw your shoulders down and away from your ears.
2. Bharadvaja’s Twist
Relieve neck pain and improve your abdominal organs? The Bharadvaja’s Twist does the trick.
This pose stretches the spine all the way down to your hips while massaging the abdominal organs. The deep stretch in the spine helps to relieve lower backache, neck pain, and sciatica. On the other hand, gentle massages on the abdominal organs help improve digestion.
For this pose, your goal is to always sink both sitting bones toward the floor. By tilting onto the twisting-side buttock, you’re at risk of compressing the lower back. If you find yourself doing so, you can raise it up on a thickly folded blanket.
3. Child’s Pose
One of the best yoga poses to relieve neck pain is the Child’s Pose.
This pose is often considered a restful pose. It’s usually sequenced between challenging asanas as a little short break.
The pose really focuses on stretching the ankle, thighs, hips, and all the way up to your spine. When you do it with your head and torso supported, it’s a great pose that helps to relieve neck and back pain. Lastly, it helps in calming the brain and relieve stress.
Breathing is especially important for the Child’s Pose. When you’re breathing in, you want to try “doming” the back torso towards the ceiling. Imagine widening and lengthening your spine as you do so. When you breathe out, try releasing your torso into the fold.
You may also use a thickly folded blanket to place it between your back thighs and calves if you struggle with sitting on your heels in this pose.
4. Extended Puppy Pose
Here’s a cross between Child’s Pose and Downward-Facing Dog!
The Extended Puppy Pose targets in stretching your spine and shoulders, which in turn leads to a deep stretch in your neck. Plus, it’s a really calming pose to do after a long day.
For this pose, you really need to focus on breathing into your back. Imagine your spine lengthening front and back as you breathe and hold the pose.
In other words, although this pose might seem like you’re not doing anything, you still need to actively engage your muscles through breathing.
If you don’t feel comfortable in your knees and lower back, you may place a rolled-up bolster or blanket between your thighs and calves. This will help you to hold the pose longer while protecting your knees and lower back.
5. Thread the Needle (On Knees)
Thread the Needle Pose is a pose suited for both beginners and advanced practitioners. This slight variation where you’re on your knees will help you to open up the shoulders a little bit more which leads to a deeper stretch in your neck.
When you’re stretching in this pose, think about opening the shoulders and stretching the spine. As you’re working the fascia around the spinal muscles, you’re releasing the tightness between each vertebra.
Although you might have the urge to rush into this pose to get rid of your neck pain, please do not! You might actually make your pain worse.
This pose takes more time and patience to get it right. So take your time to ease into a deep stretch and you’ll be relieved of your pain sooner!
Pain, be gone!
Studies published in The Journal of Pain found out that yoga is actually an effective treatment for chronic neck pain (source). So, keep practicing the yoga poses that are listed above and it’s going to help you loosen the muscles surrounding your neck, relieving your neck pain.
Remember to always take it easy and don’t push yourself too hard when practicing these yoga poses. You may end up hurting your neck instead if you’re not being careful.
So listen to your body! If you feel a sharp pain, stop practicing and take a break before trying again.
With consistent and frequent practice, your nagging neck pain will be relieved!