6 Easy Yoga Poses for Neck Pain and Tension
Ready to face your day with a smile, if only it wasn’t for that neck pain? Maybe you slept on it wrong? Or you could have strained it somehow? Regardless, neck pain is no fun, and that’s why you should try these easy yoga poses for neck pain. Before you know it, you’ll feel relieved and renewed.
Why Does Your Neck Hurt?
Perhaps the best place to start a discussion about easing neck pain is a discussion about why you might have neck pain in the first place.
Neck pain is typically classified as acute, subacute, or chronic. Acute neck pain usually lasts for up to a few weeks, with subacute pain lasting several months, and chronic pain being a persistent, constant annoyance.
The severity of neck pain can vary as well, from a minor irritation to debilitating and immobilizing. Some pain can progress through all facets of severity, depending on the way your neck was injured. If you simply slept on it wrong, then the pain, while intense, is likely to subside over the course of a day or two. However, if you injured your neck (strain, sprain, sudden onset, spasms, or tingling), then you should probably talk with your doctor.
Remember, sometimes neck pain is an indicator of something more serious. But, if your pain is relatively mild, or even chronic, a few easy yoga poses for neck pain should really help you work out the kinks.
Types of Neck Pain
You might wake up with a stiff neck or you might have a pain that feels sharp. Some pain may cover a vast area including your neck and shoulders and even encompassing your upper back at times. It can manifest as aching, burning, tingling, numbness, soreness, sharp pains, or gradual onset pain.
Pain can also be referred from a different area or cause headaches. Whatever the case, managing the pain is a priority, and that’s where yoga poses for neck pain come in.
6 Yoga Poses for Neck Pain and Tension
Try these poses to help manage and prevent neck pain:
1. Simple Neck Stretch
It’s always good to start with the basics. Begin by sitting up straight on the floor, crossing your legs in front of you. Or, alternatively, stand up straight with your feet about hips-width apart. Keep your head, neck, and back straight and aligned with your hips. Next, take your right arm and bend it, bringing it behind your back to grab your left elbow from behind. Lean your head toward your left side and feel a good stretch through your neck. Hold this pose for five seconds and then let your head drop forward to feel a stretch through your upper back and neck. Release and repeat the entire sequence on the opposite side.
2. Extended Triangle Pose
Begin by standing on a mat and walk your feet apart until they are wider than shoulder-width apart. Take your front foot and angle it out to your right side with your left foot at about a 45-degree angle. Next, bring your arms straight out to your sides as you take a deep breath in.
Lean forward with your right arm and then bend at the waist so that you bring your right arm toward the floor in front of you. If you can, place your palm (or fingertips) on the ground. You may also place your hand on a block or on your calf if you are a little less flexible. Simultaneously, as you twist, raise your left arm straight up toward the sky. Twist your head and neck to look upward. Hold this pose for 15 seconds, and then repeat on the opposite side.
3. Thread the Needle
This is a similar set up to child’s pose. Start on your hands and knees and lower your hips onto your heels. Stretch your arms out fully in front of you. Next, take your left arm and “thread” it underneath your chest, across your body, and underneath your right arm. Turn your head to look to the right and feel a great stretch through your back, neck, and shoulders. Hold this pose for 15 seconds, and then repeat on the opposite side.
4. Shoulder Thread the Needle
Start this pose the same way you did the Tread the Needle pose but instead of resting your hips on your heels, stay in the kneeling position with your hands on the ground. Bring your upper body down onto your elbows and now “thread” your right arm under your chest and left arm. While this pose is similar to your Thread the Needle pose, it allows your shoulders and upper back to get a much bigger stretch. These areas are often the source of both neck pain and referred neck pain.
5. Reclining Twist
This pose will help to loosen up your back, hips, neck, shoulders, and chest. Begin by lying on a mat with your legs out straight. Next, bend your right leg and bring it across your body and over your left leg. Then, twist your upper body to the right and turn your head to follow your right shoulder and arm (which you should lay straight out to the right). Hold this pose until you feel a great stretch through most of your torso and neck areas. For a deeper stretch, you can also press down on the outside of your right knee with your left hand. Return to the center and then repeat on the opposite side.
6. Rabbit Pose
Start on your hands and knees. Gently place the top of your head on the floor in front of you as you fully round your back and shoulders, bringing your arms straight back behind you. Try to grasp your ankles from this position as you push your hips upward and get a full stretch through your neck and spine.