If you’ve got a stiff or sore neck, these extra-gentle yoga stretches can help bring you some relief.
Neck pain can really put a damper in your day and hinder your ability to perform everyday tasks. Whether you slept on your neck funny or pulled a muscle somehow, when your neck gets too stiff, it can make it difficult to even drive a car or sit at the computer.
You can use yoga to find relief from neck pain. The gentle sequence below is meant to release tension from tight, stiff muscles. Be sure to take your time and breathe deeply into each stretch.
By Jessica Gouthro
Child’s Pose with Arms Tucked
Kneel on all fours and sit back onto your heels. Lower your forehead down to the mat, keeping your chin tucked in. Lift your hips slightly to create room for your arms to slide between your thighs and calves. Sit back on your forearms while rounding out your upper spine. Lean forward to put a slight amount of pressure on your head, gently stretching your neck and shoulders. Hold for 3-5 deep breaths. Keep your chin tucked to intensify the stretch.
Child’s Pose with Elbows on Block
Keeping your legs in Child’s Pose, grab two yoga blocks and place them next to each other, lengthwise, about 4 inches in front of you. Rest your elbows on the blocks, place your palms together and let your hands rest on your upper back. Tuck your chin and allow your head to drop towards the ground in front of the blocks to elongate and stretch your neck. Hold for 5 deep breaths.
Supine Lying Chin Tuck with Towel
Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Roll up a towel or use a yoga strap and place it at the base of your skull, creating a cradle for your head. Slide your hands up about six inches on both sides. Lift the strap straight up to gently lengthen your neck and spine. Think of pulling the towel up rather than forward, keeping your chest open to allow for deep breathing. Press your shoulders towards the ground to intensify the stretch. Hold for 3 deep breaths.
Sphinx Pose Chin Tuck
Lie belly-down on the mat and prop yourself up with your elbows just below your shoulders, palms facing down. Tilt your chin down to lengthen your neck. Keep your shoulders down and back. Feel the stretch through the back and sides of your neck. Hold for 5 deep breaths.
Standing Forward Fold with Hands Behind Head
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping a microbend in your knees, fold at the hips to bend down. Allow your upper body to relax as much as possible. Interlace your fingers and place your palms at the back of your head. Tuck your chin and gently press forward and down on the back of your head to stretch your neck. Bend your knees as much as you need. Hold for 3-5 deep breaths as you continue to gently stretch and elongate your neck.
Kneel with your knees shoulder-width apart, feet together and arms out long to get into Child’s Pose. Place the top of your head directly on the mat and as close to your knees as possible. Grab onto your heels and stretch your shoulder blades apart. Lift your hips and rock forward as much as you comfortably can. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Tuck your chin for a stronger neck stretch. Return to Child’s Pose and hold for a moment before rising back up.
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All images courtesy of Jessica Gouthro.