Neck and shoulder pain is very common problem. Sleeping in a wrong posture, sitting before the laptop screen for a long period of time along with many other reasons can lead to neck and shoulder pain which can result in cervical if not taken care of in the long run. Yoga is said to be the cure of all the pains and diseases, however old they are. Practicing yoga for neck and shoulder pain is very beneficial to get rid of pain in this area.
Causes of Neck and Shoulder Pain
Shoulder and neck area is generally made up of nerves, bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and bursa. Damage, wear and tear or injury to any of these parts can become a cause of neck and shoulder pain. Some of the other causes of neck and shoulder pain are:
1. Degenerative Conditions
Diseases like cervical spondylosis, arthritis and osteoporosis can cause neck and shoulder pain. These diseases if not cured can become harmful for your body in the long run.
2. Repetitive Motions
There are many sports like painting, swimming and basketball which use shoulder and neck muscles repeatedly. This can result in strain and inflammation of muscles.
3. Improper Posture
If you are continuously on the screen for work or entertainment it can cause a strain in the neck muscles. Sitting in a hunched position without straight back can result in continuous neck and shoulder pain.
4. Whiplash Injuries
It is the result of sudden force which throws neck backward and forward. These injuries can happen due to blow or falls to the neck and motor vehicle accidents.
Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain
Today, we see most of the people are suffering from neck and shoulder pain. The main cause of this pain is improper posture which gives birth too many diseases. Yoga for neck and shoulder pain can prove to be very effective in the long run. Let us discuss 15 yoga poses for neck and shoulder pain.
1. Arm Across Chest Pose
Sit on the floor or on a chair with elongated neck, straight spine and relaxed shoulders.
Stretch the right arm out to the shoulder height and bring it to the chest to the left side of the body.
Use your left hand to gently push your right hand towards your chest.
This pose will stretch the shoulder back and neck. Hold for around 8-10 breaths and repeat for the other side.
2. Thread the Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana)
Start by coming into tabletop position. Extend your right arm upwards as you take a deep breath.
Breathe out and insert your right hand between the left hand and left knee with palm facing upwards. Your right ear should be kept on the mat.
Repeat the same exercise for the left side. Hold on the posture on both the sides as long as possible. This pose is helpful in twisting your cervical spine like no other asana.
3. Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
Stand straight. Bend your right knee gently. Wrap your left leg around the right so that the knees are piled over each other. The left foot must touch the right shin. Raise your arms to the shoulder height and wrap your right hand around the left. The elbows should be bent at 90 degrees and stacked.
Try balancing the pose as you bring down the hips. The knees should move towards midline instead of leaning on one side.
If you are doing this posture for the first time, it might be difficult for you to tighten the crossed leg around the ankle of standing leg. So, you can just cross your leg and press pinky toe of crossed leg in the side of standing calf.
Hold on this pose for some time and release your negative emotions. Release the pose and repeat it by switching limbs.
4. Ear to Shoulder
Sit on a chair or floor with relaxed shoulders and straight spine. Roll your right ear toward the right shoulder. Place your left-hand fingertips on top of right ear and try to give more stretch to your neck muscle.
Repeat this exercise on the other side. This stretch is a very effective yoga exercise for neck and shoulder pain. You have to put pressure on both the stretch points in order to deepen the stretch. Also, roll your head side to side after 5 breaths.
5. Shoulder Stretch
Sit or stand with a straight spine. Place the fingertips on shoulder top. Pull both the elbows towards each other in front of your body to stretch out upper back and shoulder blades. Pull shoulders backwards for a deep chest and shoulder stretch.
Slowly rotate your shoulders into big circles in forward direction. Then, repeat the same by making circles in backwards direction.
6. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana & Bitilasana)
Start with a tabletop position keeping your wrists shoulder width apart and your knees hip-width apart.
As you inhale, bring your back in the shape of an arch and look towards the ceiling (this is a cow pose).
While exhaling, the chin should be tucked in your chest, tailbone has to be pulled under and round the back and shoulders (this is the cat pose). When combined, both the exercises give a stretch to shoulders, chest, neck, lower back and spinal column.
Both these poses are stretching and warm-up yoga postures. If you are stretching front and back of the neck in cat and cow pose you can get rid of all the pain and aches that you experience almost daily. It is considered to be one of the easiest yoga for neck and shoulder pain.
7. Hand to Elbow
Stand or sit comfortably with a straight spine. Bend your right elbow and touch middle of shoulder blades with the right-hand palm. Place left hand on the right elbow and press gently with your left hand to deepen the pose.
This pose is greatly helpful in stretching the triceps, back of the neck and front of the shoulders. Hold this pose for some time and repeat by switching the sides.
8. Backward Hand Clasp
Stand with the feet hip-width apart. Press the palms together and interlace the fingers behind your back. Lift the arms as high as possible to feel the stretch in front of your shoulders. Hold the pose as long as possible.
9. Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
Lie down on your back keeping your palms (facing down) under the torso. The legs should be extended keeping feet together. As you breathe in, lift the chest towards the sky, roll the head crown on the floor and press down the elbows.
Try maintaining the weight of your head in the elbows and forearms and not the head crown. After the completion of the posture rest in Savasana and feel the difference in your body.
10. Extended Puppy Pose (Utthita Shishosana) or Melting Heart Posture (Anahatasana)
Come in the tabletop position. Keep your hands in front of you and lower down your chest towards the ground. The hips should be kept over the knees and there should be some distance between shoulder and arms. Put down your forehead on the floor.
Activate your arms by pressing the palms of your hands. Raise your forearms and elbows far away from the ground. Draw your shoulder blades on the back and keep your hips high towards roof or ceiling.
Draw your neck to relax and inhale in your back and extend your back in both directions. Stay in this pose for some time and release the pose slowly. Come back to the tabletop position once completed.
You can also try wrapping your hands around the back of the neck with elbows forward which can also bring stretch in your triceps. This is a useful yoga for neck and shoulder pain.
11. Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana)
Start by sitting on your heels. With an exhale, engage your core and place your head on the ground. Touch your forehead to your knees.
Lift your hips high, roll your back and touch your heels with your hands to feel the stretch in your spine and shoulder. Stay in this position for 3-5 breaths then return to starting position.
Rabbit pose is helpful in bringing oxygenated and fresh blood to the brain and acts as a stimulant for proper digestion. It creates space and opens up cervical and thoracic spine.
12. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
This pose can be helpful in opening the neck and shoulders, stretching abdominals, strengthening arms and legs, providing flexibility in the back and stimulating internal organs.
Lie down flat on your stomach, keep your feet hip-width apart and arms beside the body. Gently fold your knees and hold your ankles. Inhale, lift your legs and chest up the ground. Lift the lower belly to support lumbar spine and don’t crunch the lower back. Look straight and keep your face stress free.
Hold this pose for around 15-20 seconds. Come out of this posture cautiously and slowly.
13. Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
Lie down with the back facing up, arms resting on the side and forehead resting on the floor. Keep the feet hip-width apart and palms facing upwards.
As you inhale lift your legs and upper torso. You may or may not lift your hands. Draw back the shoulders as much as you can.
Either look straight or look down. Hold this pose for about 30 seconds and go back to the normal position. Repeat this asana three times.
14. Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
Come in the standing position. Spread your legs as much as possible. Extend the hands sideward with a straight back. Now, lower your right arm and lift the left arm up towards the ceiling. The right hand should touch the ankle and left hand should be upwards.
Look at the left hand when you are in this pose. Take deep breaths, observe your body and settle down. Take few breaths, lift the torso and return back to standing position. Now, repeat the same with the other side.
This pose stretches spine, relieves stress and relieves mid ache even during the time of pregnancy.
15. Cow Face Arms (Gomukhasana)
Sit in a cross-legged position either kneeling or sitting down in between your heels. With an exhale, place the right hand between the shoulder blades, palms should be flat on your back and elbow should remain bent.
With an inhale, use your left hand from below to gently pull your right hand. Sit tall, look straight and draw your abs in. The shoulders should be leveled up and the spine should be kept straight.
The right shoulder should be drawn back so that you feel stretch across the front shoulder. Stay as long as possible in the pose and change the pose and repeat the same procedure. This is a useful pose in yoga for neck and shoulder pain.
Yoga For Shoulder Pain
Here are few simple poses for shoulder pain which can be easily tried at home.
- Seated Eagle Arms
- Camel Pose
- Cat/Cow Pose
- Shoulder Roll
- Neck Roll
- Downward-facing dog
- Thread the Needle
- Heart Melting pose
- Fish Pose
- Arm Across the chest
- Seated Cat and Cow Pose
- Dolphin Pose
- Wide-Legged Forward Fold Pose (Prasarita Padottanasana)
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
- Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
Yoga For Tight Shoulders (Yoga For Frozen Shoulders)
Frozen shoulders are very painful and harmful for health. There are many exercises in yoga for relieving pain from tight or frozen shoulder. Below is the list of yoga asanas for tight or frozen shoulders.
- Paschim Namaskarasana
- Gomukhasana (Cow face pose)
- Shoulder Rotations
- Prasarita Padittanasana (Wide-legged forward bend)
- Rarivrtta parsvakonasana (Revolved side angle pose)
- Bharadvajasana (Seated spinal twist)
Yoga For Shoulder Blade Pain
If shoulders and upper back are always hunched forward, then shoulder blades start moving away from the spine. This weakens and over-stretches the muscles which connect shoulder blades to the spine, neck, upper back and shoulders. Muscle spasm from overworked muscles can result in pain in the shoulder blades which can go up to the neck.
Below mentioned yoga poses with increase the movement of your shoulders and relax tension between your shoulder blade.
- Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
- Cow Face Arms
- Snake Pose
- Bridge Pose
- Upward Facing Plank
Yoga For Neck Pain
Neck pain has become a very common problem of today. Yoga has been there in the world for more than five thousand years and has a cure to many diseases present in human body. Given below are the few yoga exercises for neck pain.
- Cat-Cow Pose
- Thread the Needle
- Melting Heart Posture
- Rabbit Pose
- Bridge Pose
- Fish Pose
- Natrajasana or Reclining Twist
- Utthita Trikonasana or Extended Triangle Pose
- Warrior II Pose
- Legs Up The Wall Pose
Yoga For Cervical Neck Pain (Yoga for Cervical Spondylosis)
Cervical spondylosis can be caused due to damage of cartilage and bones in the neck region. Here are few very effective yoga poses to treat cervical neck pain.
- Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
- Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- Makarasana (Crocodile Pose)
- Pranayama & Meditation
- Guided Meditation or Yoga Nidra or Savasana
- Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sitting Half-Spinal Twist)
- Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
- Marjariasana (Cat Pose)
- Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
Yoga For Neck and Shoulder Tension
Practicing regular yoga for neck and shoulder pain can help you in getting rid from the pain in both areas. It helps you in curing the pain without any type of medication. Below are the few yoga poses for releasing the tension of neck and shoulders.
- Child Pose
- Cow Pose
- Downward Dog Pose
- Standing forward bend
- Gentle seated twist
- Eagle Arms
- Reclined Butterfly
- Reclined Knees to Chest
General Tips to Do Yoga Poses For Neck and Shoulder Pain
Yoga plays a very important role in physical and mental fitness. It helps in enhancing the overall personality of an individual. Some of the tips to do yoga poses for shoulder and neck pain are:
- If you have never done yoga before, take a few classes in a yoga studio or watch video tutorials of professional yoga instructors.
- Don’t force or push yourself to any position. Do a pose as far as it is comfortable to your
- Follow proper breathing pattern with each movement to easily come into yoga pose and reap full benefits.
- Make changes in daily your yoga poses to keep your exercise routine more challenging.
- Restorative, hatha and yin yoga are good for reducing pain from neck and shoulders. As a newbie, you should not try doing powerful and fast yoga.
- Do at least 10 to 20 minutes of yoga every day, even if they are few relaxation poses.
- Always be gentle and easy with yourself. Enjoy the practice and process you are doing during yoga.
Daily Prevention Tips
Prevent is better than cure. Here are few simple tips for preventing neck and shoulder pain. Follow these points on regularly to keep yourself physically fit.
- If you have a desk job, then give some movement or stretching to your body after every hour.
- While sitting, keep your spine straight.
- Find a comfortable pillow to keep your neck relaxed during sleep.
- Keep your computer monitor at eye level to avoid neck strain.
- Consider doing full body exercise to strengthen your muscles and joints.
- To avoid tilting your neck for long hours during phone calls, it is advised to use headphones.
- Try sleeping on your back to let your spine rest comfortably.
Yoga has been divine and ancient art form for physical and mental fitness. Practicing yoga daily can be beneficial for body. There are many healing yoga for neck and shoulder pain which can completely eradicate these pains from your body. Yoga poses can be really beneficial in the long run to heal pain, whether you are old or young. So, keep on doing yoga in order to get a healthy and fit life forever.