Simple exercises that borrow from yoga principles and techniques can be used to ease and perhaps even prevent stiffness and soreness of the neck. Practicing yoga for neck pain does not have to mean getting twisted into complicated or advanced positions; in fact, the best moves are simple and soothing. Yoga for neck pain relieves stress while warming up cramped muscles and slowly stretching any tension out of the neck.
Before you get started with the exercises themselves, take a moment to focus your breathing. You can sit upright with your legs crossed and back straight, being sure to align your back, shoulders and neck, or you can lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides, palms face up. Close your eyes, and take long, slow breaths in and out through your nose. Focus all your attention on your breathing and how your body feels while inhaling and exhaling. Taking the time for this simple exercise can help you relax and begin to loosen the tension that stress or poor posture causes in your muscles.
To begin doing yoga for neck pain, sit cross-legged on the floor with your hands face up on top of your bent knees. Be sure to keep your back and neck in a straight line, and keep your shoulders low and relaxed. Check to make sure you are not pulling your shoulders up too close to your ears, because this can cause more discomfort in your neck.
Close your eyes, keep breathing long, steady breaths through your nose, and drop your head forward so your chin falls toward your chest. Slowly roll your neck from your left shoulder to your right shoulder, repeating a few times. Keep your chin down and slowly return your head to the center of your chest. Next, roll your head back slowly until your eyes are looking straight up at the ceiling, hold the stretch for a few seconds, and roll back down. This exercise can be repeated a few more times.
Stand and place your feet next to each other. Slowly roll your body forward so you are fully bent at the waist with the crown of your head facing the ground. Allow your arms to hang loosely down toward your toes, and do not worry about being able to touch the ground. Do not hold any tension in your neck or shoulders, simply hang forward and let the weight of your body stretch the muscles of your neck and shoulders. Hold this pose for a few seconds, and then slowly roll your upper body back to a standing position.
Finally, kneel on the ground and sit back on your heels. Stretch forward into child’s pose by bringing your arms forward and bending your upper body forward over your legs until you can place your forehead on the ground in front of your knees. This move is excellent for stretching out your back, but one small adjustment makes it excellent yoga for neck pain. Press your forehead gently into the ground and roll it slightly forward to feel a stretch in the back of your neck. Once again, hold the pose for a few seconds, and then repeat until you can feel the pain and tension release.