Neck pain is, well, painful — even debilitating! — and all too common. Your neck requires a lot of muscles to keep your head up on a day-to-day basis, and we don’t always think about protecting it the way we do other body parts. If your pain is severe enough, it’s important to see a care provider to rule out serious concerns and get any necessary intervention.
Along with whatever advice you get from your care provider, you can use interventions at home to help yourself heal more quickly. One great strategy? Yoga!
The Causes of Neck Pain
Like pain in any other part of the body, neck pain has many potential roots. Some pain can be prevented, while others may be out of your control. Knowing the causes of your neck pain can help you decide the best way to find relief through yoga or other treatments. Here are some common causes of neck pain…
Your neck works hard every day to keep your head up and to allow you to look around and get through your day. But any of the muscles in your neck can get strained, causing pain. Muscle strain can occur when you exercise, sleep wrong, or even do a basic everyday activity, like lifting a heavy object. Most of the time, muscle strain heals without medical intervention, and there are things you can do at home to ease the pain. If it’s severe enough, though, you may need care from your doctor. Your doctor may also limit your physical activity to help you heal more quickly. Be sure to follow your care professional’s advice.
Your neck is a joint, and because you use it more than any other joint, it experiences a lot of wear and tear. As you get older, you may have neck pain simply because your neck is being used so much. This can lead to pain and discomfort. It doesn’t mean anything is necessarily wrong with your neck and needs to be fixed, but you may need to do yoga or make other lifestyle changes to feel better. These problems are more likely to occur as you get older because the more you use your neck, the more wear and tear it experiences. It’s a hard-working muscle!
You can also experience neck pain for other reasons, including arthritis, injury, recovery from a surgical procedure, or an underlying condition. Neck pain from an underlying condition can be difficult to deal with. Instead of getting rid of the pain, you may need to find ways to ease it so it’s more tolerable. Injuries and recovery from surgical procedures are like muscle strain and will heal over time. You may need a little help with the recovery process — see a professional for that! — but you will likely feel better before too long.
Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain
Yoga has many, many benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. If you want to ease your neck (or shoulder) pain at home (and keep up your physical exercise routine!), yoga may be just what you need. The benefits of yoga make it a good way to help your body recover from neck pain and to help prevent future injuries or problems, as well. If you’re considering yoga for pain, here are some ideas to help you get started…
Benefits of Yoga for Neck Pain
Yoga has a long history of helping ease pain and improving physical health. This is partially because it is an exercise program, but it doesn’t hurt that yoga uses slow movements and held poses to move the body gently! Yoga can be a good solution for easing neck pain because it allows you to move your body slowly, stretching and strengthening your neck without straining it. Along with the physical healing that can occur, here are some benefits to using yoga for neck pain:
Yoga helps relax you, which can help you relax your muscles to ease pain.
Yoga strengthens your body — including your neck — to prevent injuries or other pain in the future.
Yoga is gentle, so you don’t have to stop your practice due to pain or injury.
Yoga is adaptable, so if there’s something you can’t (or shouldn’t) do because of your neck pain, you can simply adapt the poses. There’s lots of wiggle room!
The Best Yoga Poses to Help with Neck Pain
One of the many benefits of yoga is that it works all of the muscle groups in the body. No matter what part of the body you want to work on, there are yoga poses that can help. Here are some yoga poses that will help relax your neck to ease aches and pains:
- Standing Forward Bend
Begin standing, with your feet hip-width apart and your hands on your hips. Exhale and bend forward from your hip joints. If possible, set your hands or fingertips on the floor in front of you. Alternatively, you can cross your forearms and hold your elbows, letting your upper body hang. Press your heels into the floor. As you inhale, lift your front torso slightly, then release more fully when you exhale. Hold.
- Child’s Pose
Kneel on your mat or the floor with your big toes touching each other and your weight in your heels. Move your knees so they are about as wide as your hips. On an exhale, lay your torso between your thighs. Lengthen your tailbone and lift the base of your skull away from your neck. Reach your hands in front of you and release your shoulders toward the floor.
- Cat/Cow Pose
Start on your hands and knees with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. When you inhale, lift your tailbone, arch your back, draw your shoulders away from your ears, and lift your head. On your next exhale, tuck in your tailbone to round your spine, broaden your shoulders, and tuck your chin under. Repeat this flow 5-10 times.
- Extended Puppy Pose
Again, start on your hands and knees with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Walk your hands forward a few inches and curl your toes under. As you breathe out, move your bottom toward your heels, keeping your arms active and your elbows off the floor. Drop your forehead to the floor or mat and relax your neck. Your lower back should maintain a slight curve. Press your hands down and pull your hips back toward your heels.
Along with these poses, you can incorporate gentle neck stretches into other yoga poses. Your yoga instructor can give you recommendations on how to do this effectively.
You may also find poses or combinations that work well just for you! Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions about limiting physical activity, if needed. They know best! We’re confident you’ll be able to find something that works for you. Before you know it, your neck will start feeling better.
Don’t lose hope!
If you’ve been dealing with neck pain for a while, don’t you give up. We know it can be discouraging and draining, but there are things you can do to take care of your neck, help it heal, and prevent future injuries. Since yoga is a gentle exercise program that can be adapted easily, it’s a good way to find relief from your pain, no matter the cause. Yoga is not only good for neck pain, but all sorts of pain throughout the body including back, hip, and even headaches!
You don’t even have to leave your house to get relief from your neck pain. Online yoga can give you what you need from the comfort of your home.
Heads (and necks) up! You can try a free 30-day yoga trial on us! Get some relief from your neck pain and never look back!