It was brought to my attention a few weeks back by Mr. MindBodyGreen himself, Jason Wachob, that there is very little information on how yoga can relieve neck pain.
Having been in a horrible car accident that resulted in a straightened cervical spine, several herniations, and a few other lovely injuries, I can say without doubt that yoga has been the number one key to easing pain and even getting rid of herniations. Not sure why there is such a lack of information out there. Hopefully this will start to reverse that trend.
Of course, I am not a doctor, but have spent a decade with chiropractors, acupuncturists, orthopedists, osteopaths, and spinal specialists, trying to find ways to alleviate the pain stemming from injuries in my cervical spine, so here are a few tips and tricks that I have learned along the way.
For pain relief at any time, here are some yoga poses that will free up all of the areas surrounding your neck, and let you feel more open and less tense:
1. 8-Point Shoulder Opener
Start lying on the ground on your back, reach your right arm out at a 90 degree angle from your body, palm facing up.
If you feel like you have even more space, allow your left hand to meet the right in a clasp and breathe there for as long as feels good.
Warning: this is a deep one, come out of the pose as slowly and mindfully as you come in!
2. Shoulder Opener on Blocks
Start kneeling. Place two blocks in front of you and place your elbows on the blocks.
Press your hands together in a prayer position, then release your head in between the blocks and reverse the prayer down your back.
Stay here for at least 10 deep breaths.
3. Cow Face Arms
You can stay here for five deep breaths, leaning back slightly, or, if the clasp is easy for you, take your left arm down, bend the elbow, and reach your left hand up the center of your back, taking hold of the right hand. Stay here for five deep breaths, leaning back slightly into your arms and taking care that the right arm isn’t putting any pressure on your neck.
4. Standing Forward Fold With Shoulder Opener
5. Shoulder Opener At Wall
Place your forearms on the wall parallel to one another below shoulder height, keeping your elbows shoulder-distance apart.
6. Supported Fish Pose
While sitting, place a medium-height block behind you vertically beneath where your shoulder blades will lay and place another block behind that one vertically to use as a pillow for your head. (Use lower blocks if this height doesn’t feel great on your back.)
7. Thread The Needle
8. Seated Spinal Twist
Sit with legs long in front of you. Bend right knee and place right foot outside of left knee. (You can keep left leg long or fold it in like a half-cross-legged seat.)
Wrap left arm around right leg and place right hand on the ground behind sacrum.