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13 Simple Yoga Stretches For Neck Pain Relief

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Long and stressful hours at the office, lengthy commutes, carpooling, and hoisting our toddlers up and down can be grueling for the mind and body. These are some of the most common stressors that cause chronic neck pain. Management for neck pain[1] is essential in supporting overall spinal health.

Yoga is the number one preventative approach to maintaining your body’s total well being. Here are 13 simple yoga stretches to help relieve that stubborn neck pain.

1. Child’s Pose

  • Begin in a kneeling position and inhale.
  • Exhale and drop your buttocks toward your heals as you stretch your body down and reach your arms forward.
  • Rest your arms on the earth, alongside your body with your stomach nestled between thighs and forehead on the mat.
  • Remain in child’s pose for 3-5 breaths, feeling your spine begin to lengthen and your buttocks dropping down.

2. Cow to Cat Pose

  • Begin in a table-top position; hands with fingers pointed forward aligning under shoulders and knees aligning under hips at hip-width distance.
  • Move into cow pose by inhaling; drop your belly toward the mat, lift the chin and chest, with eyes gazing up toward the sky.
  • Move into cat pose by exhaling; draw your belly toward the spine with a round back toward the sky.
  • Alternate between cow and cat pose 3-5 times.

 3. Seated Spinal Twist

  • Begin seated with legs extended.
  • Cross right foot over outside of left thigh with a bent knee. The right knee is pointed toward the sky.
  • Inhale and place the left elbow to the outside of the right knee with the right hand centered to the spine on the floor behind you.
  • Exhale and twist right in a gentle movement, moving from your abdomen, keeping both sit-bones on the floor. Remain for 5 breaths.
  • Repeat on the other side. Left foot over right thigh, right elbow outside of left knee, hand centered to spine behind on the floor, twist and breathe.

 4. Seated Neck & Shoulder Stretch

*Timestamp 1:12 in the video

  • Begin seated with legs crossed, looking straight ahead with arms down at your side.
  • After a deep inhale, exhale and bring your right ear down to your right shoulder without bending your head forward or backward to remain in the same line as your shoulders.
  • Inhale and raise your head back to center.
  • Exhale and repeat on the other side by drawing your left ear down to the left shoulder.
  • Repeat 3 times on both sides.

 5.  Wide Legged Forward Ben

  • Begin in a standing position with feet wide apart.
  • Inhale and straighten your spine up before exhaling while you fold forward at the hips.
  • Gently drop your head to the earth and gaze behind you.
  • Bring your hands to the floor or wherever they can reach, with your elbows pointing behind you.
  • Remain in this pose for 3-5 breaths.

6. Rabbit Pose

  • Begin in child’s pose.
  • Hold on to your heels with your hands, inhale and gently roll from your forehead to the crown of your head, lifting your hips up toward the sky.
  • Exhale and slowly lower hips to back to the heels and forehead back to starting position.
  • Repeat 3-5 times.

7. Extended Puppy Pose

  • Begin in a table top position; hands with fingers pointed forward aligning under shoulders and knees aligning under hips at hip-width distance.
  • Inhale as you walk your hands out in front of you, lowering your chest down toward the ground.
  • Exhale and keep your hips over your knees and arms shoulder distance apart, while you gently release your forehead to the ground.
  • Inhale and inch your finger tips away from your body, draw your shoulder blades together, and reach your hips up toward the sky.
  • Exhale and remain in this pose for 3-5 breaths.

8. Fish Pose

  • Begin in a laying-down position with legs extended and arms resting alongside your body with palms down.
  • Gently raise your sacral area as you bring your hands together beneath your lower spine with thumbs touching and palms flat on the floor.
  • Inhale and press your forearms into the earth while lifting your upper back to create an arch.
  • Exhale; lift your shoulder blades and upper torso off of the earth, gently tilting your head back so the crown of your head is to the floor.
  • Remain in this pose for 3-5 breaths.

9. Legs Up The Wall Pose

  • Begin in a laying-down position with legs raised above hips and pressed against the wall.
  • Shift your weight from side to side as you inch your buttocks toward the wall.
  • Inhale and let your arms rest open at your sides with palms facing up.
  • Exhale and let your hip joints and lower back come into contact with the earth.
  • Close your eyes and remain in this pose for 5-7 breaths.

10. Corpse Pose with Head and Neck Support

  • Place a bolster, folded blanket, or towel on the earth where your head will rest.
  • Lie back on the bolster with knees bent.
  • Place the bolster under your head and neck.
  • Inhale and extend legs one at a time.
  • Exhale and allow your body to relax into the earth with arms placed out to the side and palms up.
  • Focus on inhaling and lengthening along the earth while you exhale.
  • Continue to breathe with eyes closed for 3-10 breaths.

11. Seated Clasping Neck Stretch

This can be a great stretch for the back of the neck, along the spinal chord area. And it’s especially good for people who sit at the computer for long hours.

  1. Sit in a cross-legged position
  2. Lace your fingers and clasp your hands
  3. Hold the back of your head
  4. Gently press your head forward until you feel the stretch in the back of your neck
  5. Hold it there for 30 seconds, then gradually lift your head to the normal position.

Again, be careful not to press your head too far forward, and always be gentle.

12. Seated Heart Opener

This is a great stretch for the entire back and neck. It also helps with alleviating any tension in the chest area.

  1. Sit on your heels
  2. Place your palms on the floor behind your back
  3. Continue to stretch your neck and head, arch your back
  4. Lower your head to feel the stretch while staying in the position for at least 30 seconds.

This can increase blood circulation to your neck and brain, making you feel more alert and also stretching the front of the neck.

13. Bridge

This is a great yoga pose that allows you to control how much you stretch the back of your neck.

  1. Lie down flat on your back and bend your knees
  2. Place your hands under your hips and lift your hips high
  3. Feel the extent of the stretch on your neck, depending on how high you lift your hips
  4. Stay here for 30 seconds
  5. Gently return to your normal position.

Featured photo credit: L B via unsplash.com


[1]WebMD: Pain Management: Neck and Shoulder Pain
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