Did you know you can practice yoga for neck pain relief?
Well, it turns out that habitual patterns of daily life can be one of the biggest sources of neck pain.
In fact, 20% of American Adults suffer from chronic neck pain.
While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different.
Chronic pain persists for months or even years and the modern day life we lead is not helping.
The neck is the pathway from your brain to the rest of your body and like good yogis, you know the spine is a source of energy and electricity to the body. The seven cervical vertebrae that connect the cranium to the thoracic spine are small and delicate.
Neck pain can be from a past injury, perhaps a car accident or a bad fall as well. Let’s take a look at how you can have a healthy neck with yoga and awareness.
Common Posture Issues
Your phone. That precious thing you are connected to constantly is one of the biggest sources of neck pain. For every inch that your head is forward, it puts about 20% more pressure on the cervical spine. Not only that, but when you lift the shoulder to pin the phone on your ear, it creates an uneven lift and compression on that side of the body.
Driving. This is another huge modern day screwer-upper. Notice when you are driving if your head is on theheadrestt behind you or if it’s jutting forward. If you can always keep the head on it and actually press back a little to strengthen the neck muscles.
Finally, the computer. This is one of modern life’s biggest posture destroyer. Make sure the monitor is at eye level, your elbows are resting on something and you have a comfortable seat (exercise ball chairs are awesome by the way) or even a standing desk might benefit you more.
The more awareness you have to your posture doing daily tasks, the better off your neck and whole entire body consistently. And always make sure to breathe when you are doing these more sedentary positions to lift out of the spine and make room from the root all the way up the spine, lengthening the neck, to the crown of your head.
Yoga Poses and Stretches To Ease Neck Pain
Please if you have any major neck injuries like herniations, fractures or dislocations, please consult with your doctor before doing any of these exercises. The neck is a delicate part of the spine and should be treated with utmost care always. Stretching the neck side to side and up and down. Some of the neck muscles get so tense sometimes that these gentle stretches will alleviate and keep a healthy neck.
Some of the neck muscles get so tense sometimes that these gentle stretches will alleviate and keep a healthy neck.
Warmup with a gentle stretch
Taking a deep breath, sit up tall and bring your ear to your shoulder, not the shoulder to your ear. At the same time, gently pull the opposite shoulder slightly down and away to give it a deeper stretch. Do this on both sides. Next, tilt the chin forward bringing it towards the chest lengthening the back of the neck for a few breaths and then lift the chin up to open the front of the neck which tends to get tight from the head down and forward positions.
After you had a nice stretch session, start doing semicircles forward a few times then back a few times. Go slow as neck rotations might get you a little dizzy. After doing semicircles you can create full rotations to both sides
Neck traction in down dog
When you are in downward facing dog pose allow the neck to hang completely. Sometimes we tuck the head in or look forward but the biggest benefit will be letting it hang in between your arms. You can imagine breath and gravity pushing the neck and head away from the rest of the spine creating space in between each vertebrae.
Supported Reclined Single Leg Stretch
This is one of my favorites. You will need a strap or yoga rope for this and some time to enjoy. Lay on your back and making a large loop with the strap place one end on the sole of one of your feet and the other end behind the base of your skull. You can imagine having your head propped up slightly on the strap and your leg up in the air slightly with the other end of the loop.
The opposite leg is stretched out in front
Depending on your flexibility this might be done with a very large loop or a smaller loop. Relax in this pose for a few minutes breathing and letting yourself be supported by the strap then switch sides.
Relax in fish pose
Lord of the fish pose, matsyasana, is a neck strengthener. A healthy neck is not only flexible but also strong to hold the weight of your head. Lay on your back and bring the arms slightly underneath you. On the inhale press into the elbows and lift your heart up and drop your head back so the top of your head is reaching towards the earth. Keep your legs extended, and actively squeezing together the whole time.
With these poses and awareness, your neck will be taken good care of. Remember to always check your posture and correct yourself constantly. This week try to do some of the exercises and stay neck healthy!