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HEALTH Yoga for neck and shoulder pain

Ease out of neck and shoulder pain

Lee Kennedy

Some of us carry the world on our shoulders, constantly turning left and right, nodding up and down, lifting, hunching, stretching and straining all day long – no wonder we get a little stiff and sore in the neck now and again. Uncomfortable sleeping practices, being seated continuously and stress can also lead to a stiff, sore neck.
The following simple yoga exercises are designed to relieve stiffness and tension, help increase your neck’s flexibility and help strengthen the neck muscles to avoid injury. Try them sitting at the desk, before a drive or at the end of the day. By stretching this area regularly you encourage the flow of rich oxygenated blood and needed nutrients to the neck, and gradually easing out any stiffness or pain. 
Before you begin any exercise you must be certain the pain isn’t related to something more serious than a simple stiff neck, your family doctor can confirm this. It is worth noting that the best pain relief is pain prevention, so be sure to watch your posture and set your work space area to avoid slouching or over stretching.

Neck stretch
  • Choose a comfortable sitting position, on your mat or straight backed chair, sit erect
  • Inhale take your eyes forward
  • Exhale, gently drop chin to chest
  • Repeat this breath five times
  • Find the tight spots or sore areas in the back of the neck and give them some breath support – breath into them!
  • Now hold the chin to chest breathing three full breaths through the nose
  • Inhale, raising the head to centre again.
  • Now drop your right ear to your right shoulder during the exhale
  • Repeat this breath five times
  • Now holding the ear to shoulder for three full breaths
  • Repeat this sequence with the left ear to left shoulder

Half-Circle Rolls

  • Drop your chin to your chest
  • Feel the back of the neck opening up for you
  • Slowly roll your chin up to your right shoulder, down to centre, up to the left shoulder and down to centre
  • Repeat this three to five times

This article is not a recommendation for your own practice but serves as interesting reading  for anyone thinking of going to a yoga class. As with any form of physical exercise, please consult your family doctor beforehand.

Lee Kennedy
qualified with The BKS Iyengar Yoga Association UK, the YTTC and Ana Forrest of Forrest Yoga. She specialises in pregnancy-related yoga and also studied with Janet Balaskas, founder of the Active Birth Foundation, UK. Visit or call 0863906343 for more information.