Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Neck Pain Yoga | Neck Pain Exercises

Neck Pain Relief

Neck pain is fairly common amongst most adults. It is usually acute in nature and mostly occurs due to minor injuries, muscular problems, stress, or incorrect posture. Chronic pain rarely develops except in certain cases. Apart from taking medication, you can also try an alternative therapy like yoga for pain relief.

Yoga for Neck Pain

Yoga is known to aid the healing process. It is a total-body, therapeutic discipline that has been practiced for centuries. Yoga has its origins in India. It uses Asanas, or physical exercises, and Pranayama, or breathing exercises, to improve your overall health and well-being.

Before beginning any exercises, you should first warm-up by simple rotations of the neck and bend your neck forward and back. There a number of yoga Asanas you can perform to alleviate pain and to strengthen your neck. The first pose is the Locust Pose (Shalabha Asana), where you lie flat on your stomach and arch the front of your body. This helps ease any muscular tension in the neck and improves its flexibility. The next is the Fish Pose (Matsya Asana), which requires you to lie on your back and arch your torso. This pose helps relieve any the stiffness in your neck and tones the nerves in the neck. By stimulating the muscles in the neck, the blood circulation to the area increases. This in turn increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your neck.

The Dog or Cat Pose (Adho Mukha Shvana Asana) involves starting on your hands and knees and then tilting your head backwards and then forwards. This engages your neck muscles and gives them a full stretch. Lastly, the Bow Pose (Dhanura Asana) requires you to lie on your stomach, bend your knees and grasp your ankles with your hands. This backbend makes your lift your neck against gravity, which helps strengthen your neck muscles to a great extent.

Combining yoga postures with breathing awareness is also effective against pain. Ujjayi breathing is particularly useful as it allows you to take in full breaths. This long breath helps to calm down your nervous system, reducing pain transmitted through the nerves and is very helpful against neck pain.

Precautions: You should be careful to not practise certain yoga poses such as headstands (Sirsha Asana) and shoulder stands (Sarvanga Asana) as this will put undue pressure on your neck and can sometimes worsen the pain. If you feel pain or if the pose is too difficult, you should stop or move on to an easier pose.