If you have back, shoulder, and neck pain you know all too well the discomfort, sleepless nights, and general inability to do basic activities. Whether caused by poor posture, repetitive movements, too much smartphone use, or any number of other things, it is important to remedy your pain and get healthy again. One of the best ways you can do this is through yoga exercises.
As you probably know, one painful ailment can quickly extend to other parts of the body. So if you are suffering from back pain, you may likely develop shoulder pain, and eventually neck pain. Neck pain can lead to headaches and a whole slew of other problems, even injury. The good news is that yoga movements can provide pain relief and improved functionality.
Here are a few of our favorite poses to help you release tension and improve your mobility:
Standing Forward Bend Pose
- Come into a standing position with your feet under your hips.
- Lengthen your body as you fold your upper body forward, keeping a slight bend in your knees.
- Bring your hands to your legs, a block, or the floor.
- Tuck your chin into your chest, and let your head and neck fully relax.
- You can gently shake your head from side to side, front to back or make gentle circles. This helps to release tension in your neck and shoulders.
- Hold this position for at least 1 minute.
- Bring your arms and head up last as you roll your spine up to standing.
Extended Triangle Pose
Triangle pose helps to relieve pain and tension in your neck, shoulders, and upper back.
- Jump, step, or walk your feet apart so that they’re wider than your hips.
- Turn your right toes forward and your left toes out at an angle.
- Bring your arms up so they’re parallel to the floor with your palms facing down.
- Reach forward with your right arm as you hinge at your right hip.
- From here, lower your right arm and lift your left arm up toward the ceiling.
- Turn your gaze in any direction or you can do gentle neck rotations looking up and down.
- Remain in this pose for 30 seconds.
- Then do it on the other side.
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
This twist stretches the spine, shoulders, and hips.
- From a seated position, bring your right foot along the floor to the outside of your left hip.
- Bend your left knee and cross it over your right leg so that your left foot is “rooted” into the floor to the outside of your right thigh.
- Lengthen your spine and then twist your upper body to the left.
- Place your left hand on the floor behind your buttocks.
- Bring your right arm to the outside of your left leg.
- Turn your head to look over either shoulder or do gentle neck movements forward and backward.
- Stay in this pose for 1 minute.
- Then do it on the opposite side.
Extended Puppy Pose
This pose is great for relieving stress and stretching your back and shoulders.
- Begin on all fours with your wrists directly below your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
- Walk your hands forward slightly and lift your heels to come up onto your toes.
- Slowly bring your buttocks down toward your heels, stopping halfway down.
- Engage your arms and keep your elbows lifted.
- Rest your forehead on the floor or a blanket.
- Allow your neck to fully relax.
- Keep your lower back slightly bent as you press into your palms, stretching your arms, and drawing your hips down toward your heels.
- Hold for 1 minute.
Warrior II Pose
Warrior II allows you to open and strengthen your chest and shoulders to support your neck.
- From standing, bring your left foot back with your toes facing out to the left at a slight angle.
- Bring your right foot forward.
- The inside of your left foot should be in line with your right foot.
- Bring up your arms until they’re parallel to the floor, with your palms facing down.
- Bend your right knee, being careful not to extend your knee further forward than your ankle.
- Press into both feet as you extend up through your spine.
- Look out past your right fingertips.
- Remain in this pose for 30 seconds.
- Then do the opposite side.
Flexing and extending the neck allows for the release of tension.
- Begin on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- On an inhale, allow your belly to fill with air and lower toward the floor.
- Look up at the ceiling as you let your head drop back slightly.
- Keep your head here or lower your chin slightly.
- On an exhale, turn to look over your right shoulder.
- Hold your gaze here for a few moments and then return to center.
- Exhale to look over your left shoulder.
- Hold that position before returning to the center.
- From here, tuck your chin into your chest as you round your spine.
- Hold this position, letting your head hang down.
- Shake your head from side to side and forward and backward.
- After these variations, continue the fluid motion of the cat-cow pose for at least 1 minute.
Allow yourself time at the end of your practice to relax in a corpse pose. Focus on letting go of any remaining stress and tension in your body.
- Lie down on your back with your feet a little wider than your hips and your toes splayed out to the side.
- Rest your arms alongside your body with your palms facing up.
- Adjust your body so that your head, neck, and spine are aligned.
- Focus on breathing deeply and releasing any tightness in your body.
- Remain in this pose for at least 5 minutes.
With a dedication to a yoga practice, you can vastly improve the quality of your daily life. Just be sure not to push yourself to discomfort. Be mindful of your posture each day and enjoy your new yoga hobby!