07/23/2024

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We spend a lot of time indoors and are almost constantly bent over in front of a screen. It’s no surprise, then, that this sedentary, counter-intuitive lifestyle does nothing to help our neck health.

Fortunately, yoga can be an easy way to treat neck pain.

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Yoga also requires you to be mindful of your body. Often, the physical pain we feel is not only the result of a technology addiction, but also a manifestation of our emotions. For example, the neck is where we keep our insecurities at bay. When you release pain, you are usually releasing an emotional block. Paying attention to pain in your body can give you insight into how you are feeling emotionally.

Here are some fairly simple stretches that can help you disconnect from your screen and reconnect with yourself

Put your hands behind your head
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This stretch will help open up your shoulders, which can help relieve neck pain. It’s also an exercise to open your heart and counteract the “concave chest” you get when you bend over at your desk.

Whether sitting or standing, cross your fingers behind your head. Press your head into your hands. From here, fan your elbows to the side, pulling them back slightly if you can. Don’t spread your upper rib cage here; instead, use your abdomen to support you. If you need more stretch, start lifting your chest while keeping your abdominals tight.

Chin to Chest
Your neck connects your body to your mind, which makes it vulnerable to stress. This exercise is a targeted but gentle stretch for the neck.

Sit up nice and tall and reach over your head. Place your chin on your chest and allow the weight of your head to stretch to the back of your neck. If this is not stretch enough for you, place your fingers on the back of your head and do not pull your head down. Breathe deeply, releasing a little more with each exhalation. Take five deep breaths.

Look behind you.
If you can, sit in a chair and try to sit up high and well, reaching overhead. Inhale deeply and look over your right shoulder as you exhale. Keeping your torso centered, look as far behind you as possible – even with your eyes. Inhale back to center and exhale looking over your left shoulder. Take a deep breath and complete four more on each side. For more advanced stretches like this one, try Heart like a Wheel.

Shoulder rolls and drops
Shoulder stress affects your neck because the muscles depend on each other. If your shoulders are tense, your neck may be under stress from overcompensating. This movement helps relieve tension in your upper back and shoulders.

Sit or stand tall. On an inhale, gently lift your shoulders toward your ears and on an exhale pull your shoulders behind you and back to the starting position. Do four more shoulder rolls. Inhale your shoulders directly to your ears, then sigh quickly through your mouth while letting your shoulders drop. Do three more.

Major Shoulder Stretch
Another wonderful shoulder stretch that reduces stress on the shoulders, lower back and neck. An invigorating pose that leaves you feeling relaxed and centered.

Roll your shoulders back and down, then cross your fingers behind your lower back. As you inhale, try to straighten your arms, then stretch them out from your back and raise them behind you. On the exhale, fold your elbows to your sides and keep your fingers interlaced, placing the backs of your hands on your lower back.

Flush.
The stretch from your ears to your shoulders helps stretch the muscles associated with head rotation and tilt. When you sit at a desk for long periods of time, these muscles can become tight and sore.

Inhale deeply and on the exhale, lower your right ear to your right shoulder. Inhale back to center, then exhale the left ear to the left shoulder. Do this three more times on each side. If you find you need more stretching, place your fingertips on the side of your head and add a little weight to increase the stretch.

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