Neck pain and stiffness are common issues faced by many people due to prolonged sitting, poor posture, and stress.
Neck and shoulder pain, as well as a condition commonly known as Text or Tech Neck, can be quite uncomfortable and lead to long-term neck, shoulder, and spine problems.
Incorporating simple neck yoga stretches into your daily routine can help not only prevent some of these conditions, but also alleviates tension, improve alignment, and promote relaxation.
In this article, we will share with you 8 simple yoga poses for the neck that can provide relief and promote overall well-being.
Read on to learn more about:
- Main causes of neck and shoulder stiffness and pain
- Benefits of neck yoga stretches
- 8 neck yoga poses
- A class with neck yoga poses
Let’s dive in:
Main causes of neck and shoulder stiffness and pain
There are many causes for neck and shoulder tightness and pain, and here are a few of the most common:
- Overuse, poor posture, or repetitive movements can strain the neck muscles, leading to pain and stiffness.
- Sitting or standing in a hunched or slouched position for extended periods can strain the neck muscles and cause discomfort.
- A sudden jerking motion of the head, often seen in car accidents, can result in neck pain and stiffness due to soft tissue damage.
- When a disc in the cervical spine ruptures or slips out of place, it can press on nerves and cause pain and stiffness.
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can lead to neck pain and stiffness as the joints and discs in the neck wear down with age.
- A nerve in the neck can become compressed or pinched, causing pain and stiffness.
- Emotional and mental stress often cause tension in the neck muscles, resulting in pain and stiffness.
- Sleeping in an awkward position or using an unsupportive pillow can strain the neck muscles and cause discomfort.
- Spending prolonged periods with the head bent forward and looking down at a phone or tablet can strain the neck muscles and lead to stiffness.
- Certain medical conditions like spinal stenosis, fibromyalgia, or meningitis can cause neck pain and stiffness as symptoms.
Benefits of neck yoga stretches
Some of the benefits of shoulder and neck yoga poses include:
- Relieving neck and shoulder pain
- Increasing flexibility and range of motion
- Improving posture
- Reducing stress
- Boosting mood
- Alleviating headaches
- Improving sleep
13 yoga Poses for the Neck, shoulders, and Upper back
If you’ve experienced neck and shoulder tightness, we recommend you speak with your medical provider before trying these neck yoga postures.
Also consider chatting with a certified yoga teacher if you have any questions or want support choosing the best neck yoga stretches for you.
Here we will share with you some of our favorite shoulder and neck yoga postures to bring you some release and
1# Half neck rolls
Half neck rolls are a neck yoga pose that you can practice to improve the range of motion in your neck.
Stretching and strengthening the muscles in the area can reduce pain and stiffness and make it easier to move your neck freely.Start to slowly move your chin from side to side, tracing your collarbones, and letting the movement get bigger if you’d like, almost as if you were drawing a smiley face with your chin from shoulder to shoulder.
We recommend avoiding full neck rolls since they can be a bit too intense for the cervical spine.
2# Ear-to-Shoulder Stretch
To practice this pose, start with your neck in neutral and inhale.
On your exhalation, gently tilt your head towards your left shoulder, without pulling too much, simply maintaining a relaxed posture as you feel the stretch on the side of the neck.
To feel more sensation, stretch your right arm to the side, and take a few rounds of breath.
Repeat on the other side.
3# Seated Cat-Cow
This posture is not only great for the neck but also for the entire spine.
Sit upright in a chair and place your hands on your knees or thighs. Inhale and arch your back (Cow Pose), tilting your pelvis slightly back and allowing your chest to puff up a bit and open up. Let your elbows bend toward the sides of your ribcage.
Exhale and round your spine, and gaze down toward your navel (Cat Pose), sliding your hands down toward the knees again.
Repeat a few times.
4# Seated Eagle Arms
Eagle arms can relieve muscle tension in the neck and shoulders by creating a gentle traction effect.
Practicing this yoga neck stretch will often help relax the muscles in these areas, reducing pain and discomfort.
Sit comfortably and relax your shoulders, lengthening your spine.
Inhale, open your arms out to the sides like a T.
Exhale, cross your right arm over your left arm, and first, bend your elbows and bring your hands toward your triceps or shoulders, and lift your elbows a bit, away from your chest.
After you’ve crossed your arms and bent your elbows, start to bring your forearms together, intertwining your ars and perhaps bringing the backs or the palms of the hands together. Relax your shoulders, and breathe.
Do the same on the other side.
5# Shoulder shrugs
A simple, yet effective way to release tension in the shoulders is shrugs.
Sit or stand tall and on your inhalation, lift your shoulders up toward your ears, and on your exhalation let your shoulders relax back down.
It may feel nice to tighten up all the muscles of the arms and hands when you lift your shoulders up and inhale, and drop the shoulders and release all the tension when you exhale.
Repeat that a few times.
6# Neck Lengthener
A neck yoga pose that can be practiced pretty much anywhere, it can be very beneficial for those who want to improve their posture and reduce neck and shoulder pain.
To practice it, sit tall with your spine as straight as possible.
Notice the weight distributed between your sit bones.
Inhale, feeling your spine lengthen and upwards, and elongate the back of your neck toward the ceiling, lengthening the space between your shoulders and ears.
Notice how that feels and consider any micro adjustments you want to make.
Perhaps you move your ears a couple of clicks back, almost tucking your chin very gently toward your chest.
Hold for a few deep breaths, letting your shoulders relax down and away from your ears.
7# Standing yoga seal pose (Dwikonasana)
A shoulder and neck yoga stretch you can try when wanting a big release is the standing yoga seal pose.
Dwikonasana can be practiced either seating or standing.
Start with your feet hips distance apart, or at a comfortable distance. bring your arms behind you, and either catch your left wrist or forearm with your right hand, or if you rather, interlace your hands behind your back, or use a strap.
If you’ve caught your wrist behind you, take a few breaths here and then switch sides.
If you’ve chosen to interlace your hands behind your back or use a strap, stay here for a few breaths, or consider folding forward, taking your chest down toward your thighs, and keeping your knees soft.
8# Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
This neck yoga pose is also known as the heart-melting pose or Uttana Shishosana in Sanskrit.
Puppy pose helps to stretch and open the shoulders, releasing tension in the often tight and hunched shoulder muscles.
It allows the shoulder blades to spread apart, improving their mobility and range of motion.
By elongating the spine and reaching the chest towards the ground, puppy pose provides a gentle stretch to the upper back and neck muscles.
This can alleviate tightness and relieve discomfort caused by long hours of sitting or poor posture.
A class with Neck Yoga Poses
If you are ready to practice some shoulder and neck yoga, we invite you to try one of our favorites on Youtube.
This is a great shoulder and neck yoga asana class designed especially to help you find some release:
Neck pain is a common problem that can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor posture, stress, and repetitive strain injuries.
Shoulder and neck yoga can be very beneficial for those who feel discomfort and pain in that area.
Yoga is a safe and accessible way to relieve neck pain and improve flexibility and range of motion in the neck and shoulders.
The shoulder and neck yoga poses in this article are a great place to start since they are gentle and easy to follow, and they can be done at home.
If you have any existing neck pain, it is important to start slowly and gradually increase the duration of each pose.
Always listen to your body and stop if you feel any pain.
With regular practice, these neck yoga poses can help you to relieve neck pain, improve your posture, and increase your overall well-being.
For more on posture, read this next.