Desk jobs tend to bring along neck pain. Bad posture, stress and physiological tension can lead to stiff necks or neck spasms. The next time you feel a twinge in the neck, chuck the painkiller or hot water bag and try these seven yoga poses instead.
Done regularly, these poses will ensure that your neck and shoulders never experience pain and tension.
Bitilasana (Cow Pose) and Marjariasana (Cat Pose)
The Cow-Cat pose is a gentle up-and-down flowing posture that provides flexibility to the entire spine. It stretches and lengthens the back and neck.
Kneel on your hands and knees in a neutral position? Align the hands below the shoulders, knees beneath the hips. Look straight ahead, inhale and slowly extend your spine as you look up and forward. Take care to expand your chest, softly arching the back and neck and lower your shoulders. Next, slip into the cat pose by reversing the movement. Exhale and bring the chin towards your chest while gently hunching and rounding your back.
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
This restorative pose will help you relax your neck and back completely. It can also help reduce stress, anxiety and mental tension.
Start in an all-fours position as in the cow-cat sequence? Exhale as you sink your hips back towards your heels. Extend your arms out along the floor in front of you. Lower your hips as far as your body will allow. Extend your arms and shoulders as you try and touch your forehead to the floor.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Spinal Twist)
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Begin the Ardha Matsyendrasana pose seated on the floor, legs extended in front of you and hands at your sides? Bend your left leg, live it over your right knee and place it on the ground on your left. Place your right heel near the left buttock. Take your right hand over your left leg and hold the big toe of your left foot. If you can’t hold your toe, grab your ankle instead or raise your toes keeping your heel on the ground. While breathing, twist your trunk as much as you can keeping your spine erect, turning your neck to look over your left shoulder. Encircle your waist with your left hand, palm outwards. Hold for a short time to begin with; gradually go up to two minutes. Repeat on the other side.
Viparita Karani (Legs Against the Wall Pose)
This relaxing pose can calm the nervous system and mind, take pressure off the spine and neck, and enhance circulation.
Position your body on the yoga mat by lying down with knees close to your chest next to a free wall. Exhale, and swing your legs up against the wall. Make sure the distance from the wall is comfortable for you. Keep your legs straight and firm and sink your shoulders and back into the floor. Extend your arms, palms up, to the side and draw your head and neck away from the shoulders.
Ear to Shoulder Pose
This simple pose can be done anywhere. It allows lateral movement of the neck and can be done standing or sitting, as long as the spine is straight.
Look straight ahead, arms by your side? Take a deep breath, exhale and bring your right ear towards your right shoulder. Ensure that the head stays in the same plane as your shoulders. Inhale, draw the head back and exhale to repeat the movement on the other side. Put your right hand on the side of your head as it drops over to deepen the stretch.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
This is known as the most restorative yoga pose in existence and most yoga classes usually end with this pose. It banishes stress and anxiety and brings you peace.
Lie down flat on your back. Extend your legs straight along the floor and place your arms at your sides, the palms facing upwards. Position yourself so that you are comfortable and at ease. Close your eyes and breath naturally. Relax your face and jaw and let go of all tension in the body. Lie still like a corpse for 10 minutes.