Yoga for Neck Pain

written by Adriana Lee


Dealing with neck pain? Ouch! We feel you!


Your yoga practice can help! Check out the tips and poses below recommended to help you get out of pain.

How to practice:

Some yoga styles teach using the neck muscles quite a bit by frequently looking up towards a gazing point, or drishti. While this can be useful to strengthen your neck, if you’re dealing with neck pain we recommend practicing with a relaxed neck.


Practice with lots of breath. Move slowly through poses and stay aware of how you’re moving while you transition - a quick, tweaky transition can exacerbate your neck pain. Focus on sending your breath high into your chest and shoulders as you move to bring awareness to your neck as you practice.


What to Avoid:

If your neck is bothering you, some poses may make things worse. A few to consider avoiding, at least until you feel better, are:

  1. Sirsasana, or Headstand. Headstand places a lot of the body’s weight onto your head, which can strain your neck - especially if it is already bothering you. Opt for gentler inversions instead, like Legs up the Wall, or even Downdog.

  2. Salamba Sarvangasana, or Shoulder Stand. Shoulder stand is contraindicated for those with neck injuries, and can place a lot of weight on your neck if not done very carefully. For this reason, it’s best to avoid it if you are experiencing neck pain.

Poses to Practice:

These poses are great for releasing neck pain. Remember to practice with LOTS of breath. Go slow. And as always, listen to your body!

Seated Neck Release


Sit in any comfortable position; such as Sukkhasana or Easy Seated Pose, Baddha Konasana or Bound Angle Pose, or a Half Straddle.

  • Place your right hand down beside your hip.

  • Extend your left arm out to the side, hovering a few inches above the ground.

  • Slowly lower your right ear towards your right shoulder. Stop when you feel a mild and breathable stretch.

  • Stay for 5-10 breaths, or as long as it feels good.

  • To come out, lower your left hand down to the ground for support. Place your right hand on your right ear and use your hand to lift your head back to neutral.

  • Repeat on the other side.

Scalene Release


Scalene release helps to release the deeper neck muscles, called the scalenes, that run from the sides of your skull, down under your collarbones to attach the top ribs. The set up for this pose is the same as Seated Neck Release, however your jaw position changes what muscles are stretching.

  • Begin in a comfortable seat.

  • Place your right hand down beside your hip.

  • Extend your left arm out to the side, hovering a few inches above the ground.

  • Slowly lower your right ear towards your right shoulder.

  • Drop your bottom jaw and slide your jaw up towards your left ear. You should feel a gentle stretch in the deeper muscles of the neck.

  • Stay for 5-10 breaths or for as long as it feels good.

  • To come out, lower your left hand down to the ground for support. Place your right hand on your right ear and use your hand to lift your head back to neutral.

  • Repeat on the other side.


Standing FF with Neck Traction

This pose helps to gently traction out the neck. It can help relieve both neck pain and headaches.

  • Begin standing with feet a bit wider than hip’s width distance apart.

  • Bend your knees and lower into a forward fold. Make sure your knees are bent enough that your belly can lay on your thighs for support.

  • Clasp your hands together either at the base of your skull (pictured), or if you have long hair, a gentler version is to grab your hair or a ponytail.

  • Breathe into your upper back and neck.

  • Stay for 5 breaths, or as long as it feels good.

  • Come out slowly to avoid a head rush. Bend your knees deeply. Engage your core. And slowly roll up to standing.

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