Neck pain is a highly common ailment — at any one time, approximately 10 percent of the population suffers from it. Considering the fact that most people spend the majority of their day hunched over a computer, smartphone, or steering wheel, it’s not particularly surprising that so many people’s necks are hurting.
If you’re currently dealing with neck pain, these four yoga poses can help you get rid of tension without having to resort to painkillers to feel better.
Below are 4 Yoga Poses to Relieve Neck Pain
1. Thread-the-Needle Pose
This pose helps stretch the upper back and shoulders to relieve tension that could pull the neck out of alignment.
To do it properly, start by kneeling on all fours. Inhale and extend your right arm to the ceiling, twisting your chest and torso to the right. Exhale and slide your right arm under the left shoulder.
You should eventually end up with your right shoulder and right cheek resting on your mat. You can also rest them on a block, blanket, or bolster if you need extra support.
Hold this pose for about five breaths, then reverse the pose and reach back up toward the ceiling before you switch sides.
2. Supported Fish Pose
This is one of the best poses for people who spend a lot of time hunched over (i.e., almost everyone). It counters a chronically rounded neck by opening up the shoulders and chest.
To do this pose, place a block, bolster, pillow, or rolled up yoga mat lengthwise on your mat. Lie down on whichever object you choose, make sure it’s right under the thoracic spine (mid back). This will help support your back as you open up your chest.
Once you’re situated, open up your arms into a T-shape to stretch your chest muscles even further. Extend your legs so they’re straight in front of you.
Breathe deeply and let all of your weight relax into the object. Because this is a supported pose, you can hold it for quite a while — even as long as five minutes.
3. Dolphin Pose
This is another good stretch for countering a rounded neck and shoulders. It also helps strengthen the muscles around the neck, which can make it easier for you to maintain good posture.
To do this pose, start in a plank position (the top of a push-up) with your wrists under your shoulders. Lower yourself onto your elbows, placing them where your wrists were to maintain good alignment.
Slowly begin walking your feet in toward your elbows to create the same shape you’d make if you were doing a downward facing dog. Keep the legs straight and forearms parallel. It’s okay if your heels come up off the floor.
Press your forearms into the floor to engage your lat muscles and open your chest. Relax your neck and let your head hang. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
4. Eagle Arms
This pose will help release tension in the upper back and shoulders, similar to thread-the-needle pose. This pose is a little more discreet than thread-the-needle, though, so you can do it while you’re sitting at your desk at work and need a quick break.
Start by sitting up straight. Extend your arms to the side to form a T-shape, keeping your shoulders pressing down. Cross your right elbow over your left and continue wrapping the forearms until your left palm meets your right. If you don’t have the flexibility for that yet, don’t worry. Just grasp your right wrist with your left hand.
Continue pressing your shoulders away from the ears as you hold this pose and slowly turn your head to look over your left shoulder.
Hold for 5-10 breaths, then switch sides.
Bonus Tips for Relieving Neck Pain
In addition to a consistent stretching routine, these bonus tips can help you relieve your neck pain faster:
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as this causes you to twist your neck for hours at a time
- Use cold and hot therapy to relieve inflammation and stiffness
- Get a massage, or have your partner rub your shoulders
- Invest in a special pillow to help support your neck while you sleep
- Adjust your workstation to minimize slouching and neck strain
If you’re struggling with chronic neck pain, it’s important to make stretching and strengthening exercises a regular part of your routine. These four yoga poses are a great place to start, especially when they’re paired with the other therapeutic remedies listed above.
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