Pain in the neck? Neck injury or soreness can come from a variety of sources. Poor posture, overcompensating for the shoulders or a weak upper body can contribute to neck discomfort. 

Exercise, sleeping on a too-big or too-small pillow, tensing the shoulders, heavy lifting… With all these culprits, it’s no wonder so many people are wondering how yoga can reduce neck pain.

You’ve come to the right place. This guide will help explain how yoga can benefit your neck by targeting your current neck issue to maintain your healthiest, strongest neck possible. 

While specifying the neck is important, such as poses that stretch the neck, so is taking a holistic approach. The neck is, of course, supported by the shoulders and back, so building muscle here while stretching is equally as important as working that neck.

Best Yoga Poses for a Sore Neck

The best poses for a sore neck will allow you to bring movement to the neck without worsening any painful sensation. This motion could be as little as tipping the head to one side to as grand as shaking the neck out if movement is still something you can do.

Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Down Dog is ideal for a neck that has been tense throughout the day and is ready to bring back some range of motion. This beginner-friendly yoga posture has your palms connected to the mat in front of you and pushing into a lift, bringing the buttocks to the highest point of the body. From the buttocks, the legs extend downwards, with the feet planted on the ground. 

The head should hang between the arms, and this is where that neck-friendly movement comes in: Downward-Facing Dog is the perfect opportunity to shake that neck. Start gently at first by moving the neck side-to-side, as if to say yes, then up and down, like you’re saying no. The neck does not need a large movement to warm up.



Cat-Cow (Marjurasana-Bitilasana)

Bitilasana

Cat-Cow is another great option for beginners. From a table-top position, you will dip the back in Cow Pose, and then round the spine in Cat Pose. As you do so, bring your awareness to the neck. 

It is common to focus primarily on the back when engaging in Cat-Cow, but to relieve the neck of any tension, exaggerate the movements here. As your back starts to round, tuck your chin deeply into your chest to stretch the back of the neck. In Cat, bring your head as far back as you comfortably can to lengthen the throat.

Corpse Pose (Savasana)

savasana

You might be wondering how a pose that has you lying completely still can help the neck, and that’s where a gentle neck massage comes in. As you lie down in Corpse Pose and relax the arms and legs outwards, take the time to move the head. 

Slowly shake the head from side to side and feel the ground massaging the upper part of the neck that meets the head. If you have a small ball or a similar object, you could even consider placing the ball under the neck and gently moving the head for a deeper massage.

Consider the Shoulders

Neck pain can often come from a problem with the shoulders. One common injury may be during typing – if your set up does not perfectly match your height, you may tense your shoulders, which leads to tensing the neck as well. 

Another common problem is weak shoulders that use the neck for extra strength, such as when carrying heavy grocery bags into the house or a similar action. Stretching and toning the shoulders will help prevent neck pain in the future.



Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

Gomukhasana

This asana is a favourite for stretching the shoulders as you almost receive two stretches in one pose (as long as you do the pose on the opposite side after). The lower body is not the focus here, although you can receive an excellent hip stretch if you choose to practice the entire posture. 

The real focus though is that shoulder stretch. As one arm reaches up and over, the other arm reaches down and under. The hands meet in the upper-middle part of the back and are held to keep the shoulders pulling in opposite directions. If you can’t reach, add a towel or yoga strap between your hands and see how much closer you can bring the hands together with continued practice.

Don’t Forget the Upper Back, discover more about Yoga poses that help your Upper Back.  

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