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Neck pain? Try these yoga poses.

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Yoga Poses for Neck Pain

When your neck hurts, you realize just how much you rely on this part of your body for everyday activities. It can be tough to drive a car, work on the computer, or even have a conversation without the ability to turn your head freely.

Neck pain is associated with inflamed, tight, overstretched, or underused muscles in the shoulders, rotator cuff and upper back. It’s important to find ways to stretch your neck gently, since the vertebrae are sensitive and easily injured. This is where yoga can help! Check out the yoga poses below to help relieve your neck and shoulder pain.

By Lauren Cap


Cat Cow


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With a focus on the upper part of the body, the cat motion is an excellent stretch for the erector spinae group that runs along the spine from the sacrum to the occiput.  Each inhale expands the ribs and stretches the intercostals muscles in between the ribs for a fuller breath. (A lot of tension can be built up in the shoulders and neck which is why breathing is essential for releasing tension from the body.)  Cow provides a stretch for the abdominal wall and pectoralis group delivering an opening in the front body.  As the pectoralis muscles weaken and tighten a rounding in the spine and upper back occurs, creating that forward head motion.  This combination of postural alignment and the weight of the head on the cervical spine can assist in neck pain.  The cow motion gives the front body a chance to open up and expand.


Child’s Pose

Child Pose

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Child’s pose lengthens the spine from cervical to lumbar and stretches the lattismus dorsi when shoulders are in flexion.  The action of rolling the forehead from side to side is a safe and easy way to find a release in the shoulders and neck.  Tightness in the jaw can affect neck muscles.  Offering the chance to relax in the jaw and face here is beneficial to the health of the neck.


Thread the Needle

Thread the needle

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The combination of neck rotation and shoulder adduction creates a therapeutic release for the neck.  The action of threading the arm through and placing weight onto the shoulder stretches the forearm, biceps, shoulder blade, and neck.  One of the rotator cuff muscles that is located in the infraspinous fossa of the scapula (shoulder blade) is the infraspinatus.  The infraspinatus muscles assists in adducting the shoulder in thread the needle.  The weight of the body on the shoulder blade is a great stretch for this muscle as well.   Options to support the head with a blanket can ad ease and restoration to a sometimes challenging posture. 


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