Yoga for neck and shoulder pain

Neck and shoulder pain is something we’ve probably all experienced one time or another. We get it if we sleep in an awkward position, from sitting all day in front of a computer or it might be a manifestation of stress and tension.

There are several basic exercises you can try to help relieve neck and shoulder pain. Many of these can be done while you’re sitting at your desk or when you’re on yoga mat as preparatory movements to warm up the body. Even if you don’t have neck or shoulder pain these exercises are just a great way to loosen up the muscles and joints and the effects can be felt almost immediately!

Neck stretch
Begin with your head straight and balanced between your shoulders. Then stretch the neck bringing the right ear close to the right shoulder. You should feel the stretch on the left side of the neck. Then repeat on the opposite side. This is such a simple stretch and the effects are almost immediate.

Chin to chest
This is another very simple exercise. Centre the head. Then bend the neck so the chin comes toward the chest. Then lift the head up, centre again and lift the chin upwards. Complete several cycles.

Neck rotations.
Bring the chin towards the chest and then slowly rotate the neck in a circular movement. Be gentle and make the rotations slow and steady so you don’t further injure the neck. Rotate both anti-clockwise and clockwise.

Shoulder rotations
If you have neck pain, you may also find that your shoulders are also tense. Rotate your shoulders clockwise and anti clockwise.

Rag doll
Stand upright in tadasana. Bring opposite hands to opposite elbows and extend the arms up over the head.  Cut forward from the wait and bring the arms towards the floor. Let gravity take over and allow your upper body to hang forward. Unclench the jaw and keep the knees relaxed. This position will allow you to release any tension in the neck. Stay here for a few moments and then slowly release and straighten up into tadasana.

Standing forward bend
This standing forward bend involves a slight variation. Stand in tadasana and interlace the fingers behind the back. Then cut forward from the waist coming into uttanasana (forward bend). Allow the arms to remain interlaced and extended straight behind you. This position releases the neck and the extension of the arm stretches the shoulders and shoulder blades.

Yoga is very beneficial for neck pain and shoulder pain as it increases bodily awareness. Right now, take notice of the way you are sitting as you are reading this. Is your back hunched? Are your shoulders rounded? Is your neck pushed forward? If you’ve answered ‘no’, then good for you! But if you’ve answered ‘yes’, yoga offers a great way for you to correct this so you are more aware of your body and can reduce any pain and tension.

Veronica Joseph

Veronica Joseph

Veronica Joseph is an accredited yoga teacher who loves to share her yogic journey from travels in India, cleansing techniques, her favourite poses and their benefits and tips to remember when practising.

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