According to MayoClinic, neck pain is a really common complaint for many people. So the question is–can we really use yoga for neck pain? I believe neck pain is so common due to the increase in technology–looking down to use our phones more often and sitting more than normal. Neck pain is often caused by poor posture, excessive use, or leaning forward or to one side regularly. Luckily, neck pain is rarely related to something more concerning and studies show that you can use yoga for neck pain.
As a yoga therapist, and someone who not only specializes in pain management and posture correction, but someone had to do this work for myself, I am sharing 3 big tips for how you can reduce aches or pain in your neck with yoga. These are the main focal points that I use for my private clients, and I can honestly say, they get AMAZING results when they start to implement them!
Why aren’t we taught to have good posture?
The problem is that most people have no idea they don’t have good posture, OR they have no idea that their posture is so important and the root cause of their pain. I was there too.
BTW, If you’re looking for a challenge as a way to ramp up your posture, check out my Free 5-day Posture Challenge!
The truth is bad posture, especially in the neck, can cause so many issues because it forces certain muscles to overwork and other muscles to not pull their load. This causes an imbalance, and often times, a dysfunction in how the muscles are being used because they aren’t able to expand and contract like they are supposed to.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal but over an extended period of time, can cause A LOT of pain in the neck. It can also lead to other long-term issues if not corrected. If you’re ready to tackle your neck pain & bad posture head on, I highly recommend checking out my monthly membership program, Aligned, where there 10+ yoga therapy classes & trainings JUST on the neck that you can listen to whenever, wherever!
Yoga for Neck Pain: Increasing Your Awareness
When it comes to neck pain that is caused by poor posture, overuse or incorrect use, we can use our yoga practice to become more aware of our alignment. After all, the basis for yoga is awareness of you body and mind!
The only way to change your posture is by adjusting it bit by bit over time. The idea here is that the more you focus on one area and continue to adjust it, it will become muscle memory and a habit that lasts. It’s great to start this during our yoga practice because it is a time for slowing down, breathing and paying attention. This way, the more you do it in your yoga practice, the easier it becomes outside of yoga.
If you’re new to this idea, definitely watch my free Neck & Shoulder Mini Class and Training that I created for you.
Yoga for Neck Pain: Stretching
When you are constantly sitting, standing or moving with poor posture, this becomes muscle memory for your body. Depending on how long your posture has been a certain way usually corresponds with how long it takes to reverse it. Our bodies are intelligent and have the innate capability to heal given the proper tools. If you want something interesting to read on our bodies capacity to heal, check this out.
Let’s dive a little deeper into discussing forward head carriage. This creates tightness in the muscles on the front of the chest, the neck up to the jaw and the back of the neck around the shoulders–a recipe for disaster!
In order to reverse the forward head carriage, you want to focus on specific yoga stretches to help to open the front of the chest and down the arms to the hands, the front of the neck up to the jaw and the back of the neck and around the shoulders. Start by finding some stretches that help to open these areas while also focusing on maintaining proper posture as you go.
Do You Want Yoga for Neck Pain?
If you can’t find stretches that really help to get into all of these areas, I would suggest checking out my monthly membership program called Aligned Monthly Membership.
Aligned is an affordable monthly membership program to help you live a pain free life. I’ve collected over 100 prerecorded yoga therapy classes, practices and training’s for you to practice whenever, wherever. Plus, all members get access to my weekly live classes and so much more!
Yoga for Neck Pain: Strengthening
Most people think that stretching is the only part of yoga and the main thing that will improve your posture. While stretching and releasing tension in the body is key, so is learning to strengthen and stabilize these areas so that proper alignment can be achieved.
In the example of having a forward head carriage, it’s also vital to build strength in the muscles on the back of the neck, the upper back and shoulder region. When you build functional stability here through Yoga Therapy, you make it possible for the shoulders and head to come back into proper alignment.
It’s a balance of creating space through releasing tension and stretching and building stability through strengthening.
This balance begins by understanding your unique alignment and posture. Once you have a baseline of where you’re at and you know where your goal is, you can start to take small steps in getting there.
There’s No One-Time-Fix for Bad Posture, It’s About Creating Long Term Habits that Last
While most people prefer to find a quick fix-it pill when it comes to getting out of pain in their body, they typically provide temporary relief. Meanwhile, yoga therapy, when done properly and with a skilled yoga therapist, can offer long-term, sustainable results in improving your posture, decreasing pain and helping you to better understand your body all together. A win-win if you ask me!
The best way to set yourself up for success is by understanding what proper alignment is, understanding where you’re at currently and what you need to do to get back into alignment! Start by watching this Free Training & Class on Neck & Shoulders!
If this post resonated with you and you are looking for more practices that are focused on helping you understand and improve your posture, getting out of pain and holistic health as a way of healing the body, consider joining Aligned, my monthly membership space. For only $24/month, you get unlimited classes, practices and training’s to access whenever, wherever.
Caitlin Parsons, owner of Caitlin Parsons Yoga Therapy and Founder of Aligned, the #1 monthly yoga therapy membership program. Caitlin specializes in pain management and injury recovery through posture correction. She also helps women reduce stress and anxiety by learning how to tap into their bodies innate wisdom.
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Free Healthy Posture Masterclass
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About the Author
My name is Caitlin, I’m a chronic pain survivor, Certified Yoga Therapist, Registered Dental Hygienist, and founder and CEO of Caitlin Parsons Yoga Therapy, a yoga therapy and wellness company. I recently made my dreams a reality by quitting my full-time job as a dental hygienist to pursue my passion and purpose helping others get back into alignment.
Now I use my personal and professional experiences with chronic pain, stress and anxiety, and injury recovery to help women step back into their own alignment – in their bodies, minds and throughout their lives. I help empower women to create balance in their bodies and minds so they can access greater levels of freedom in their lives inside my monthly membership program (Aligned), group coaching program for hygienists (The Aligned Hygienist), a Yoga + Coaching Program for Dental Teams, and private yoga therapy coaching.
I love to share my knowledge and expertise on mindfulness and therapeutic yoga for back pain through my blog and social media platforms as well as guest appearances on other inspiring and like-minded podcasts.
Client Success Stories
“I started working with Caitlin because I had recently gotten surgery from a brain tumor. I had very little mobility in my shoulder and arm. I was concerned that the lack of mobility, discomfort and reduced strength would increase chances for more pain and injury. Working with Caitlin was amazing, I would recommend her personal approach to anyone. She is dedicated to her work, has great knowledge and communication. Caitlin does a wonderful job guiding you back to your body and yourself.” – Ania
“I started working with Caitlin because I had chronic low back pain and regular flare-ups. I was told by multiple doctors that I would always be in pain and my posture would never improve unless I had surgery. The pain got so bad that I couldn’t play volleyball anymore, which created a negative spiral in my mood, energy and throughout my life. The results I got with Caitlin was amazing. I no longer have chronic pain or chronic acid reflux which I was on medication for. I’m much healthier and happier now than I ever have been!” – Russ M.
“I started working with Caitlin because I had neck pain, shoulder pain, neck congestion and ringing in my ears. I was working a lot, taking care of my family, and I was beginning to spiral downwards in a state of stress and pain. With all of that, life became a chore. I wanted to learn how to take care of myself so I could live a happy life and take care of my responsibilities from a place of joy, not dread. I wanted to get my neck to a place where it wasn’t painful and tightening every time I was stressed.
Now I no longer have neck pain or tightness, I’m stressed and ear ringing has greatly reduced. My body feels so much better as a whole. Caitlin helped me find peace. Caitlin has an innate sense of knowing how to tailor each session to fit how I’m feeling in my body and what I need. Caitlin helped me change the way I react to stress; now I’m more mindful of my reactions and the way I take care of my body. I’m stronger in my body and mind now which has positively affected my entire life.” – Donna M.
“I started working with Caitlin because I was completely disconnected from my body because of a genetic disease, having constant, chronic pain, extreme trouble sleeping and anxiety living in my own skin. I wanted to feel better- I wanted to have less pain and have a better quality of life–building strength and reconnecting with my body were a bonus. Working with Caitlin exceeded my expectations- I sleep so much better now and my pain has improved significantly. I’m less anxious and have practices to help when my symptoms flare. I’m more grounded and embodied, I have a daily yoga practice that continues to build on the foundation Caitlin helped me create.
Caitlin is incredible, she validated me and helped me work on my whole self. She customized everything to work specifically for me. I 100% recommend working with Caitlin. She believed that healing was possible and she held that vision for me and brought it to each session, and eventually I believed and embodied it too. She helped me find the power in every single baby step towards a more whole and healthy life, and I am completely transformed by it. This work isn’t the quick fix, it’s deep, holistic, soul-led healing.” – Hayley
“Working with Caitlin was the best thing I ever did for myself. I thought that I would always have pain because I’ve done so many things to try and help but they haven’t worked, until yoga therapy with Caitlin. Now I am living with less pain, my posture has improved, I am getting stronger, and my clothes are getting looser.” – Joan
“Before I came to Caitlin, I was taking Motrin and Tylenol on a daily basis like clockwork. I would skip going to the pool or out with my family after work due to the pain in my body. I was very depressed and isolating myself from activities that I really enjoy doing with my family and friends. I had pain on a daily basis in my lower back, shoulder blades, hips and left knee. Some days I had so much pain and inflammation in my body I felt like I couldn’t make it through the day.
Since starting FTF I am slowly starting to get control of my pain and inflammation through the online program one-on-one sessions with Caitlin. Inflammation is decreasing, I’m sitting up taller and I’m more aware of my posture both at work and in my daily routines outside of work. I am no longer having to take Motrin and Tylenol on a daily basis and I am able to walk longe distances without pain in my knees. “
“I never thought I would get out of back, knee, and postural pain. I also have a curvature in my back that I have been told most of my life cannot be changed. When I came to Caitlin, I wasn’t playing my favorite sport and I was miserable at work. Even doing simple things was really painful. Caitlin completely personalizes her services based on your needs. She takes considerable time to answer all of my questions and targets my sessions for exactly what I need that day and what my goals are. Caitlin always asks me what is going on and listens really well. She is a wealth of knowledge about yoga, human anatomy, and how humans should move. No two sessions are the same. We changed the way I move while doing simple things like sitting in a car or at my desk, putting dishes away and bending over to clean dog poop so that my back is protected from re-injury. I am healing my back partly to return to playing volleyball. I now understand how to be in my volleyball stances and movements so that I can avoid injury when I get back to playing. I am already standing up much straighter and feel more confident. I never thought I would feel this good in my body and I am so wow-ed by Caitlins mastery of her craft.” – Russel
“Caitlin really knows how to curate yoga program for sustainable strengthening. My shoulders and core used to be weaknesses but after a few sessions I see my posture has improved and the range of motion in my shoulders. She’s caring, fun, and a pleasure to work with. I’d recommend her to anyone interested in trying yoga therapy.”
“Caitlin is fantastic. I’ve gone to many of her classes, specifically those with a focus on healthy backs. I’ve worked with her as a therapist on issues I have with my neck and shoulders from work. She’s patient, attentive and offers focused one-on-one sessions. The exercises I’ve done really help me combat the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day, highly recommend working with this lovely and professional woman!!”
“Caitlin has helped me grow and learn a lot about myself. She helped me realize the strong power of breath when I was over stressed and unaware of my mental needs. Caitlin helped me focus my energy, both good and bad, on my breath. With every deep inhale and cleansing exhale, I felt my stress and anxiety lessen and lessen. Eight years later, my main mantra is to ‘just breathe.’ It has literally changed my life. Along with the power of breath, Caitlin has helped me keep a constant awareness of how I physically hold myself. Not only has my posture changed, but I have also become stronger and my confidence has increased. I recently began running and was having pain in my hip and side leg. Through working with Caitlin, my pain subsided. She put together an easy to follow yoga sequence that helped my muscles and ligaments heal. I fully trust in Caitlin as a yoga professional, and recommend her gentle way of teaching to anyone.”
“This program has been so amazing for my pain. In just one class, my neck and shoulder tension released more than it has in years. This program has been so instrumental in managing and controlling my stress. It’s so easy to be “on the hamster wheel”. I look forward to my yoga time and meditation and have noticed a huge difference in my pain level. My family has even noticed my calmer demeanor. I couldn’t believe how much my pain was linked to my stress.”