10 Yoga Poses For Neck Pain That'll Release All The Tension You're Holding Onto
We live in a time when it's basically a given that, no matter what you do for a living or how you spend your days, you can likely be found hunched over a computer, or craning your neck to read something on your phone. It is, quite literally, a pain in the neck. The physical discomfort that inevitably comes with being glued to technology 24/7 has essentially become a tolerated nuisance — something that's begrudgingly accepted, or temporarily masked with a couple of pills. But when the meds don't cut it, a few yoga poses for neck pain may just do the trick to soothe those throbbing sensations and help you release the tension you're holding in your upper body.
As a yoga teacher, so many of my students come to my classes complaining about neck pain, and luckily, I know just the stretches to sprinkle into your flow for some much-needed relief. Rest assured, these are all super simple asanas, but they work wonders to relieve that tension you're carrying in your neck and shoulders.
Even if your discomfort isn't necessarily chronic, and you're just experiencing a random bout of soreness after a long day at the office or a little too much time scrolling through social media, flowing through this soothing yoga sequence will be just what you need to banish all of that unwelcome tightness plaguing your upper body.
1. Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
Start your sequence seated in easy pose. Use this quiet and simple asana as a moment to ground yourself, close your eyes, and scan the entirety of your body.
Observe the pain that's lingering in your neck, and dedicate your gentle flow to relieving the sensations and tension that have built up in this area.
2. Arm Across Chest Stretch
While still seated in sukhasana, take hold of one of your arms, and bring it across your chest for a relieving shoulder stretch. When you're holding tension and tightness in your shoulders, it often leads to a sore neck. But once you tackle the source of the problem, relief will soon follow.
Hold this stretch for a few deep breaths, and then repeat the motion on the opposite side of your body.
3. Ear To Shoulder Stretch
Staying seating on your mat and maintaining a straight spine, use one of your hands to gently draw your ear to your shoulder. Be mindful to apply a very light amount of pressure in this stretch — less is definitely more here. Take deep, even breaths as you feel the tension in your neck slowly melt away.
When you complete the first side, find equilibrium by stretching your neck with the opposite arm.
4. Thread the Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana)
From easy pose, slowly make your way onto your hands and knees, and prepare to fluidly maneuver your body into thread the needle pose. This is an incredible asana for relieving shoulder and neck tension after a long and stressful day.
Take this pose as deeply as feels good for you, and once you've completed one side of your body, make sure to balance out the stretch by practicing it on the opposite side.
5. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana)
Return back to a simple tabletop position with your fingers spread wide on your mat and your knees hip-width distance apart.
Begin to flow through some relaxing cat-cow poses, linking each movement with each of your breaths. Close your eyes, and take note of how each movement makes your body feel.
6. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
From your tabletop position, slowly slide into a comforting and nurturing child's pose.
Stretch your arms toward the front of the mat, lengthening your body and releasing your shoulders. Let go of any tension that might be remaining in your neck, and let your entire being melt into the earth.
7. Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
As you gently come up out of your child's pose, return to a seated position and prepare to make the gradual shift into a spinal twist. This pose will lengthen your spinal column and allow your neck to become more flexible, so that it will be less prone to aches and pains in the future.
As you inhale, lengthen your spine and grow taller. As you exhale, twist a bit deeper into the asana.
8. Hands Clasped Behind Back Stretch
Make sure that you've practiced your seated spinal twist on the opposite side of your body, and then slowly unravel and come to a comfortable seat. Bring your hands behind your back, and clasp your palms together for a rejuvenating and relaxing shoulder stretch.
Breathe deeply and expansively through any uncomfortable sensations as you open up your chest. The longer you're able to hold this stretch, the deeper you'll be able to take it.
9. Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
If you're not already near a wall, position yourself adjacent to one and make your way into viparita karani.
This relaxing pose will calm your body from head to toe, promote better circulation throughout, and take any remaining pressure away from your neck and spine to really seal all of the nourishing stretches you just incorporated into your flow.
10. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Close your practice by drifting into a tender and placid savasana. If there are any lingering signs of your sore neck, envision those sensations delicately drifting away and pouring out of your being.
Lay in your meditative state for several minutes — however long feels good for you — and slowly roll your body back up whenever you're ready.