Everyone gets a little stiff neck once in a while, and yoga can wipe away the pain with a few concentrated exercises. First, though, you must be certain the pain isn’t related to something more serious than a simple stiff neck. Instead of yoga, see a doctor if any one of the following is true:
- You neck pain has persisted for more than three days, or it keeps coming back.
- Your neck pain is accompanied by dizziness or nausea.
- The pain seems to radiate down into your arms or legs.
- The pain began with a fall or accident.
If your stiff neck does NOT meet any of the above conditions, these simple yoga exercises can help increase your neck’s flexibility and strengthen the neck muscles. By exercising you speed blood and needed nutrients to the area, easing the neck pain gradually. Try these:
Sitting cross-legged, tall and straight, and inhale eyes forward. Exhale, moving chin to chest. Repeat this breath five times, the fifth time holding chin to chest breathing three times through the nose. Inhale, raising the head to center again. This time drop your right ear to your right shoulder during the exhale. Repeat this breath five times, the fifth time holding ear to shoulder for three breaths. Repeat this sequence with the left ear to left shoulder.
Drop your chin to your chest. Slowly roll it up to your right shoulder, down to center, up to the left shoulder and down to center. Repeat this three to five times. Never roll the head in a full circle, as this can cause damage.
Hunch your shoulders up as high as you can, then relax them completely. Repeat five to six times. Next roll your shoulders in forward circles five to six times, then backward circles five to six times. Notice how relaxed your shoulders feel. Try this quick relaxation exercise any time you feel tension building.
Stand with your feet together and your fingers interlaced behind your back. Inhale while raising your hands behind your back, squeezing your shoulder blades together and tucking your tailbone under to keep from over-arching your back. Hold this position for three to four breaths, then lower your arms slowly during the next exhale.
Hold your arms straight out in front of you, parallel to the ground with palms facing each other but not touching. Inhale while bringing them up next to your head. Exhale while you bring them down again. Repeat this four to eight times.
Place either palm on the back of your head. Simultaneously press the head and hand against each other for a count of ten. Move the palm to the forehead and repeat the pressing for another count of ten. Now place the right palm against the right side of your head and press head and hand together for a count of ten. Repeat with the left palm and left side of the head.
These yoga exercises are designed to relieve physical stress and related pain. The best pain relief is pain prevention, so be sure to watch your posture and set your workspace to avoid slouching.