Whether you sit at a desk all day or are running around doing chores, your neck gets strained without even you realizing it. At the end of the day, after you’re done with all your work is when you feel the tension in your neck and shoulders. Poor posture, stress, and long-term physiological tension can cause a mild stiff neck or sometimes, even a full-blown muscle spasm of the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
A lot of neck issues are also the result of repetitive strain caused by slouching. Over- and under-working of muscle groups in the neck leads to imbalances that affect the shoulder girdle. Chronic slumping can also cause rotator cuff problems, such as rotator cuff syndrome. Practicing yoga poses that work the neck muscles can help stretch and relax stiff muscles. Here are 5 yoga poses you can do to get keep your neck in good shape.
1. Cat Cow Pose
- Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly
- Place your shins and knees hip-width apart. Center your head in a neutral position and soften your gaze downward.
- Begin by moving into Cow Pose: Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling.
- Broaden across your shoulder blades and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
Next, move into Cat Pose: As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back.
- Release the crown of your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest.
Inhale, coming back into Cow Pose, and then exhale as you return to Cat Pose.
- Repeat 5-20 times, and then rest by sitting back on your heels with your torso upright.
2. Fish Pose
- Begin lying on your back with your knees bent
- Lift your hips and tuck your hands slightly beneath your buttocks, palms facing down. Draw your forearms and elbows in toward your body.
- On an inhale, bend your elbows and press firmly into your forearms and elbows to lift your head and upper body away from the floor and begin to find the natural curve of your spine.
- Firm your shoulder blades into your back and lift your chest higher toward the ceiling, elongating your spine.
- Gently release the crown of your head (or the back of your head, if the crown doesn’t feel available to you) back down on the floor, placing a minimal amount of weight on your head.
- Remain here with your knees bent, or, if it feels comfortable, extend both legs straight down on the mat in front of you with your muscles strongly engaged.
- Stay in the pose anywhere from 5 to 10 deep breaths. To come out of the pose, engage your core, press firmly into your forearms, and gently lift your head away from the floor. Tuck your chin
3. Child Pose
- Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips.
- Exhale and slowly lay your torso down between your thighs. Broaden your lower back across the back of your pelvis and narrow your hip points towards your navel, so that they nestle down onto the inner thighs.
- Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.
- Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso with your palms up, and release the front of your shoulders towards the floor.
- Feel how the weight of the front of your shoulders pulls your shoulder blades wide across your back. Stay in this position for 30 seconds to a minute.
- To release the asana, stretch the front torso. Then, breathe in and lift from the tailbone while it
4. Reclined Twist
- Lie on your back with arms horizontally stretched out by your side.
- Bend your knees and bring your feet close to your hips. The soles of the feet are fully on the ground.
- Swing the knees to the left until the left knee touches the ground. Turn the head to the right and look at your right palm.
- Shoulder blades must touch the ground. With each exhalation, relax deeper into the pose and observe the places where the body is feeling the stretch. After a few minutes, mirror the pose on the other side.
5. Corpse Pose
- Lying on your back, let the arms and legs drop open, with the arms about 45 degrees from the side of your body. Make sure you are comfortable.
- Close your eyes, and take slow deep breaths through the nose. Allow your whole body to become
- Scan the body from the toes to the fingers to the crown of the head, looking for tension, tightness and contracted muscles. Consciously release and relax any areas that you find.
- Release all control of the breath, the mind, and the body. Let your body move deeper and deeper into a state of total relaxation. Stay in Shavasana for 5 to 10 minutes.