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Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain

Updated on May 23, 2013
Practicing proper posture will eliminate most neck pain.
Practicing proper posture will eliminate most neck pain. | Source

Neck pain affects most people at some point in their lives. Yoga can help to banish neck and shoulder pain. Before we can heal ourselves, we need to find the root cause of our pain. This hub will outline the causes of neck and shoulder pain. It will also explain specific yoga poses to prevent pain in the neck and shoulder area.

Let's look at the causes of neck and shoulder pain:

  • poor posture
  • weak muscles
  • tight, stiff muscles
  • overusing these muscles
  • stress, fear or anxiety

Yoga can help with all of these issues. Yoga can:

  • stretch tight muscles
  • strengthen weak muscles
  • teach proper alignment
  • improve posture
  • release muscle tension
  • release physical and emotional energy blockages

Do you suffer from neck or shoulder pain?

See results

Stretches for the Neck

I have found yoga to be helpful for overcoming all types of pain. However, most yoga videos or classes seem to focus mostly on poses for the legs and arms. I get to corpse pose at the end, and I can still feel the tension in my neck and upper back. If you're like me, try these neck stretches before any yoga class, or whenever your neck feels tight or sore. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.

For the sides of your neck:

  • Sit tall. Slowly, gently bend your neck to the left side.
  • Don't raise your right shoulder. Instead, draw the left ear down to the left shoulder.
  • Place your left hand on above your right ear and pull down gently to feel more of a stretch.
  • You can move your head around a little to feel where you need the stretch the most.
  • Hold, and repeat on the right side.

For the back of your neck:

  • Turn your head slowly, all the way to the left as far as it will go.
  • Place your left hand near your right ear and gently draw your ear down.
  • Hold, and repeat on the other side.

Now do a couple of slow head circles in both directions. Feel better? Great! Now let's move on to some specific yoga postures for each cause of neck and shoulder pain.

This is the best yoga video I have found online, to reduce neck and shoulder pain and stretch out your legs too.

Practice standing tall in mountain pose wherever you are.
Practice standing tall in mountain pose wherever you are. | Source

Poor Posture

Did you know that the way you walk can actually affect your back and neck muscles? Not standing on your feet properly can cause a chain reaction all the way up your body. Repetitive patterns of walking improperly can lead to an imbalance in the body, Years of walking incorrectly cam make your body lopsided. This can lead to pain in the neck, back or shoulders as your body tries to compensate.

Let's learn mountain pose. Also known as tadasana, mountain pose will help you stand tall in perfect posture. Mountain pose is a simple posture that you should do everyday. You can do it any time, any place.Do it whenever you think of it to realign your spine.

Mountain pose is one that looks simple, but is actually hard to do if you usually slouch. Try this yoga video for step by step directions on how to do mountain pose.

Now let's look at rounded shoulders, or forward head.

Forward head is when your head slides in front of your shoulders and your upper back rounds forward. This can cause tension and strain in your neck, shoulders and upper back. It can also lead to headaches, a stiff, sore neck, breathing problems and backaches. People who sit a lot all day, perhaps doing computer work, reading or driving, are especially prone to forward head.

So let's try some back bends to counteract all of this. You can try the first one sitting in your chair:

Sitting back bend:

While sitting on your chair, reach your arms back and grasp the back of your chair. Slowly bend your upper back up and look up towards the ceiling. This will open up the front of your neck. Breathe deeply for 5-10 breaths. It also feels good to clasp your hand behind you and pull them out and up. this will open more of the shoulder area. You should try to do these a few times a day if you work at a desk.

Keep in mind that the body was not designed to sit in one spot all day, even if you are in perfect posture. Remember to get up and move around every so often to keep pain at bay.

More yoga back bends:

Taking time out to relax at some point in the day will go a long way in alleviating any pain you may have.
Taking time out to relax at some point in the day will go a long way in alleviating any pain you may have. | Source


How does your body react to stress?

We clench or grind our teeth. We wrinkle up our forehead. Our shoulders scrunch up to our ears, almost like we are a turtle trying to hide in our shells.

This all leads to pain in the upper body.

Why do we do it? Perhaps we are trying to protect our heart from any more pain by hunching forward. Or maybe we are having trouble communicating our feelings. Your throat chakra, located in the front of the neck, is the centre for communication. Having your head down to cover it may make you fell more secure.Yoga teaches us to lead with our heart, not hide it.

Relaxation poses in yoga are the most helpful for combating stress. So let's learn the ultimate relaxation pose- shavasana. Also known as corpse pose, shavasana usually comes at the end of a yoga class, so you end on a completely relaxing note. It lets you float out of your yoga class ready to face the day with peace in your heart.

And it's simple to do. All you do is lie flat on the floor with your arms and legs stretched out a comfortable distance from your body. Breathe deeply and try to relax all areas of your body.

Here's a nice guided relaxation pose video:


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    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Canada

      Glad my tips worked for you!

    • caseymel profile image


      4 years ago from Indiana

      I just did a workout at the gym that kinked up my shoulders and neck. I tried a few of your tips and they have loosened up. No more headache! (-:

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Canada

      I am glad you found my hub useful, Zubair. Thank you for commenting on my hub.

    • Zubair Ahmed profile image

      Zubair Ahmed 

      5 years ago

      Some very useful tips, I have suffered with neck and shoulder pain for many years, just tried some of your tips and can feel the benefit while I type this comment. I will be trying these tips out everyday.

      Thank you

    • Shobha Khokhar profile image

      shobha khokhar 

      5 years ago from Chandigarh, India

      Thank you for such a useful mother is suffering from the neck pain from last 1 month and tried a lot of things but still there is no relief . I hope these yoga tips surely help her.

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Canada

      I'm so glad my hub is so helpful to you, Koralee

    • KoraleeP profile image

      Koralee Phillips 

      5 years ago from Penticton British Columbia Canada

      I am so thrilled I came across your Hub daisyjae! I have been battling with neck, shoulder, and upper back pain for the last three days. I am printing out your hub and keeping it by my computer desk. Thanks also for the videos. Voting up, sharing, and useful.

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for reading my hub and commenting, mercurynewsonline.

    • MercuryNewsOnline profile image


      5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I learned a lot from your hub. As a massage practitioner myself I appreciate the way you showed your readers how to use Yoga and its healing exercises to relax, refresh and rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit.

      Great hub.

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Canada

      Yes, slouching will lead to neck pain, jpcmc. I hope my tips help you. I appreciate your comments.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      6 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      Poor posture is probably the reason for the pain I have. I try to correct my posture especially when in front of the computer. I find myself slouching and that's really bad.

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for reading my hub, guys. I appreciate your comments.

    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 

      6 years ago from Southwest England

      Thanks for the great tips, Daisy. Yoga is an exercise that nearly everyone can do, and these few simple stretches are something we can all try.

      Neck and shoulder pain is very common amongst people who do desk jobs or spend a lot of time working at a computer - myself included, so I will be trying to incorporate these into my daily routine.

    • savingkathy profile image

      Kathy Sima 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I loved this hub! Thank you for sharing this information. I am going to try to incorporate some of these stretches into my daily life to help with the neck and back strain that comes with spending so much time on the computer.

    • alyessamoore profile image


      6 years ago from Miami

      Nice hub. I do these yoga steps at Metropolis Fintness Gym. I love to go there everyday. Thanks if i learn something new from your video of yoga steps, then i ll tell them too about this.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Excellent tips here for pain relief - I get a lot of neck and shoulder pain from sitting at a computer all day.

      I am bookmarking and will certainly try these, thank you.

      Voted up and shared.

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Canada

      You are welcome, stars. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • stars439 profile image


      6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Thank you for sharing this wonderful hub. GBY.

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Canada

      I appreciate your comments, guys.

    • LivingFood profile image


      6 years ago

      Yoga is my favorite form of exercise. I constantly do the neck stretches when I'm at my desk, but had not heard about the backbend in the chair. I tried it and it was amazing! it really helped to open the upper body. Thanks!

    • jaswinder64 profile image


      6 years ago from Toronto, Canada.

      Nice and tons of information in this article. Thanks for writing it.

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Canada

      Glad you liked it, pankaj.

    • pankaj1987 profile image


      6 years ago from INDIA

      Awesome hub.......Thanx for sharing it

    • daisyjae profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for stopping by, urmilashukla.

    • urmilashukla23 profile image


      6 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

      Nice informative hub. Thanks for sharing it.


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