Yoga is one of the oldest martial arts, practiced in almost every country to promote balance, health and well-being. While you may not be able to make a name for yourself as a yogi on the mats, you can still apply the knowledge to your everyday life.
Yoga is a practice that originated in India, and is deeply rooted in the religion of Hinduism. It’s said that the word “yoga” means “union”. According to the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University, yoga is a science of self-realization.
Whether you sit at a desk all day, stand or breastfeed a baby, we experience a lot of neck strain. Constant tension and stress can lead to shortening and tightening of muscles and ligaments. It’s not just neck pain, but it can also restrict the neck’s range of motion.
So what’s the best remedy if you wake up with a stiff neck or if your neck muscles are chronically tight?
Again, yoga comes to the rescue.
Yoga allows you to move your neck in six basic directions to stretch and lengthen your muscles. It can prevent chronic neck pain and remedy sudden pain caused by poor sleep.
We’ve listed our favorite yoga poses for neck pain relief. If you have chronic neck problems, consult your doctor before starting yoga classes and practice with an experienced teacher. Move purposefully and stop when you feel pain.
Warm up by moving through the cat and cow with your breath. This position removes many causes of tension in the neck by bending and lengthening the neck.
We often let our heads hang out – we look at our cell phone, we study a textbook, we watch TV – which results in our heads hanging in front of our shoulders.
The ligaments and muscles of the neck are in constant use and support the weight of the head. Stretching the front and back of the neck in the cat and cow exercises can help relieve many of the aches and pains we experience.
2. Thread and needle
This warm-up pose rotates the cervical spine – nothing like a good twist to get rid of all that energy!
Inhale into the table position as you extend your right arm up. As you exhale, extend it to the space between your left hand and your left knee, palm up. Put your right ear on the mat. Hold this position for one minute and repeat on the left side.
In this position, your core sinks into the floor, causing significant deflection in the upper and middle back – a notoriously difficult place to reach and causing neck strain.
Make sure your hips are just above your knees and your arms are shoulder-width apart. I like to grab the back of my head with my hands and stretch my elbows forward to transfer the stretch to my triceps as well.
The rabbit pose opens and creates space in the thoracic and cervical spine. It stimulates digestion and brings fresh, oxygenated blood to the brain. As you inhale, firmly curl your heels to bring your hips to the sky.
Try to bring your forehead up to touch your knees and let the top of your head rest lightly on the floor. Use hand force and grip to reduce the load on the head. If the knees are sensitive, fold a blanket and place it under the knees.
5. Deck installation
Although it may seem surprising, the bridge is an excellent posture for stretching the back of the neck and stimulating the thyroid by squeezing the front.
Place your feet about 15 cm from your tailbone. Inhale and lift your hips off the floor. Place your hands under your buttocks for support or use a block at medium or maximum height.
Hold this position for 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly remove the holder. Lower your hips.
6. Landings of fish
Lie on your back and bring your hands, palms down, under the chest. Touch your thumbs together. Stretch your feet out on the floor, feet together. Inhale as you lower the elbows, bring the heart up to the sky and lower the crown to the ground.
Try to shift most of your head weight to your elbows and forearms, not the top of your head. When you come out of the pose, press your elbows down, lift your heart to the sky and lift your chin. Lower the back of your head to the ground.
Then rest in Savasana and let all remaining tension subside.
These six postures stretch the neck in six different directions – forward, backward, left to right, and rotating right and left. The above postures help to release tension and stretch the neck to prevent restrictions in movement.
Let us know what you think or if we missed any of your favorites in the comments below!