Yoga can help reduce neck pain, stretching out the stiffness and soreness interfering with your daily life. But everyone’s neck pain is unique, so some poses won’t work for every person. Take a trial and error approach to yoga, and check with your doctor about which poses to avoid.
Here are 4 beginner-level yoga poses for neck pain relief. For comfort and cleanliness, try these poses on a yoga mat or beach towel.
1. Cow pose
Cow pose is a simple yet helpful pose that stretches out your neck muscles and ligaments.
- Start on your hands and knees. Keep your palms and elbows in a straight line under your shoulders, and align your knees under your hips.
- Keep your head in line with your torso and face the floor out in front of you.
- While inhaling, lift your tailbone and chest toward the ceiling. Your belly will sink toward the ground and your eyes will lift toward the ceiling.
- On the exhale, gently return to the starting position.
Try this pose 10 times for a good neck stretch. You can also alternate the cow pose with the cat pose.
See Neck Stretches
2. Cat pose
The cat pose can help relax your neck, easing the pain from strain and poor posture.
- As with the cow pose, the cat pose begins on your hands and knees. Align your arms straight under your shoulders and your knees under your hips, like a table top.
- Align your head with your torso and spine, facing the ground in front of you.
- While inhaling, round your back to lift your spine toward the ceiling. Release your head toward the ground.
- As you exhale, slowly return to the starting position.
Try this pose 10 times and consider alternating it with the cow pose. Together the two poses form a gentle yet effective stretch, loosening your neck and strengthening surrounding muscles.
3. Seated ear-to-shoulder pose
This pose can be done sitting on the ground or even in an office chair at your desk.
- Begin in a neutral sitting position, cross-legged if you can, facing straight ahead with your arms at your sides.
- Take a deep breath.
- While exhaling, slowly bend your right ear toward your right shoulder. (Do not lift your shoulder during this stretch, and avoid leaning your head forward or back.)
- Pause for a moment. You should feel a stretch in the left side of your neck.
- As you inhale, slowly bring your head back to its starting position.
- Try this pose on the left side.
The seated ear-to-shoulder pose delivers a great lateral stretch that can help relieve pain in your neck.
4. Corpse pose
Corpse pose is typically practiced at the end of a yoga session because of its simple, restorative position. This pose can also help align your spine and ease neck pain.
- To begin, lie flat on your back and face the ceiling.
- Position your legs slightly apart but straight down. Relax them completely, your feet naturally opening to each side.
- Rest your arms alongside your torso, palms facing up yet relaxed.
- Hold this position for at least 5 minutes, breathing slowly and deeply.
When you practice corpse pose, tuck a rolled towel behind your neck and/or behind your knees for more comfort.
Try a combination of the above yoga poses and see which ones help reduce your neck pain. If any of these yoga poses worsen your neck pain, stop immediately and visit your doctor.