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How to Heal Your Shoulder and Neck Pain through Yoga

11 September

If you have been struggling with persistent pain that just won’t go away, then maybe it’s time you tried something new! Restorative yoga poses for chronic pain is a proven, gentle way to help anyone restore their body to a pain-free state. Through the correct postures and poses, functional improvements in mobility and pain relief are possible. Once you learn how to do it, the possibility of releasing tension through yoga and healing from injury or trauma will become a realistic goal. Whether it is yoga for shoulder pain or more simply yoga for neck and shoulder tension, all these issues can heal through restorative yoga.

Obviously step one is to consult a doctor. It’s always wise to check with your physician before starting something new or attempting to heal yourself. You wouldn’t want to make an injury worse if it is something serious that requires the attention of a medical professional. However, for minor issues such as kinks, tension filled muscles and general soreness due to sleeping positions or stress, yoga can be your go-to solution.

Many people hold their stress, worry and tension in their upper body. This is sometimes seen as shoulders that are perpetually raised up towards the ears. Or perhaps heads that are pushed forward or dropped down from too much time spent looking down at a device. Upper backs that slouch -rolled inwards from the shoulders and leading down until the upper body is crunched up-perhaps from sitting hunched over a desk or laptop for too many hours per day. All of this can lead to a feeling of tightness across the back of the neck, shoulders and even radiate up and down the back.

Instead of suffering all day, a little restorative yoga can help ease the pain and get you back up and moving in no time at all. The idea behind this technique is that yoga teaches you to lengthen, stretch and relax your muscles both through the postures and through your breath. Learning to breath properly and focus on sending that breath to the areas of the body that are feeling tight and painful, can lead to an almost instant relief. It’s important that you learn how to breath because just holding a pose without the correct breathing will not have the same effect.

If left untreated, neck and shoulder pain can lead to headaches and even injuries if left alone for long periods of time. Whether it is chronic pain or a one-time issue, it is worth having the skills to help yourself through the pain. You could just take a pain killer but it would soon wear off. Restorative yoga however, can relieve your pain for good.

yoga peace

What should be done before beginning to practice yoga for pain relief?

Before starting any postures, you must first apply heat or ice to the affected area depending on the type of pain you are having. Heat compresses are best for muscle soreness while ice is a better choice for an injury or acute pain. Avoid any sharp, sudden movements and opt instead for a gentle flow both in your regular movements and in your yoga poses. And as mentioned above, always check with your doctor first.

Next up, it’s important to understand what type of yoga will help you with your pain. Simply heading into a yoga studio or watching some online videos is not necessarily the best choice. There are many different yoga styles and not all will be helpful or soothing to neck, shoulder or back pain. In fact, if the postures are not done correctly or if the style is too intense it may actually do more harm than good.

This is why restorative yoga is a great choice for pain relief. So, what is restorative yoga and how does it differ from other forms of yoga?

Restorative yoga is all about taking things slow and letting the body open. This is done through passive stretching and long holds in each of the yoga poses. Restorative yoga is also categorized by the use of props. Props to help you hold the pose for those extended periods of time. Typically, in other forms of yoga, it is your own muscles that support the poses. In restorative, those muscles are more relaxed because you’re the support of the props yet still stretched due to the long period of time that you remain in the posture. This is very healing when you have tightness and pain.

This gentle yoga style is also great at providing a balance between the physical and the mental effort. Restorative yoga poses help to reduce stress and anxiety which in turn helps your muscles to relax even further. The word restorative means exactly that-to restore health and relaxation to the body. By centering the breathing and aligning the physical with the mental stillness, you will find relief of pain and tension.

Here are 4 great reasons to start practising restorative yoga poses

  • The physical benefits of deep stretching
    Instead of fighting to hold a pose and pushing your muscles to work harder until they burn. Restorative yoga allows you to still get those benefits but in a gentler way. Holding longer is possible through the support of the props. This makes the poses less uncomfortable but actually helps to stretch more gently- which in turn allows for a deeper flexibility to form.
  • Deeper flexibility can develop
    Better flexibility can ease pain and help to avoid injuries and tension knots in the future. Although restorative yoga poses are meant to improve your flexibility per say, by exploring the release of tension through the poses it does happen naturally.
  • Learn where you hold your tension
    This yoga style is great for learning where you hold your stress. The opportunity to examine how your physical body responds to tension and where it holds it, will help to identify the source for your pain. Yoga for shoulder pain or even just tension will be greatly alleviated through restorative yoga.
  • Quiet the mind and possibly even learn meditation
    Yoga for neck and shoulder tension can also have other benefits. By holding these poses for ten minutes or longer as is done in restorative yoga, the mind must learn to relax as well. If your brain is always overstimulated and stressed, then this shows up in the body as well. While you lie still, supported by props to ease your physical pain the mind must learn to relax. This is great time to begin adding some meditation to your practice.

When you are first starting out on your yoga journey, especially if it is beginning due to the need to alleviate pain and tension, it’s important to find the right routine for you. Many people have the right intentions when they sign up at a studio. However, with the fast-paced lives that many of us lead today, it is not always possible to stick to a schedule. This is why finding a great program that you can do at home, on your own time is the best choice. The Yoga Burn Challenge has been helping people all over restore their health and improve their physical and mental health. This is a program that can be used at the beginning of your journey as well as when your tension subsides and you need more of a challenge.
While you are waiting for your Yoga Burn Challenge to arrive, it might be a good idea to begin stretching out those tense muscles. The following are yoga poses that can help ease your neck and shoulder pain.

yoga child-pose
  • Child’s Pose
    This is one of the most deeply restorative poses in yoga. Relaxing for the neck, shoulders and back, it can help to alleviate tension and pain. On the floor, open your knees wide and sit back on your heels. Then slowly reach down and slide your arms forward until your forehead comes to rest on the floor or close to it. Here you can choose to add a prop to support your forehead or even your hips, if that feels more comfortable. The goal is to be comfortable, still and breath into the areas where you hold tension.
  • Cow and Cat Pose
    Place yourself on your hands and knees in a table top position making sure that your neck is neutral. Be sure to align your hands directly under your shoulders. Then slowly flow through these two different poses. Cow means to round your back and tuck your chin in to your chest. Cat means to arch your back and gently raise up your chin. By flowing through this posture, you can ease tension in your spine, neck and shoulders. Don’t forget to use your breath to inhale and exhale as you change positions.
  • Ear to Shoulder Pose
    This is perhaps the most versatile pose as it can even be done as you sit at your desk. This motion facilitates the lateral movement of the neck while stretching the muscles of the neck and shoulders. Make sure the spine is straight and take in a deep breath before exhaling into a slow movement of the ear towards the shoulder. Keeping the head straight, you can choose to put your hand on your head and gently hold it to your ear. Flow back up through the center and repeat on the other side. Always aim to keep your head moving side through the middle and side again, do not look or pull the head down.
  • Corpse Pose
    Out of all the poses, corpse is obviously the most restorative. However, although it is easy to do, the challenge is often in the mind. Lie still on the ground, legs slightly open and relaxed, arms by your sides. Let your mind focus only on your breath as it enters the body, flows through it and exits. Let your breath heal those areas of tension and relieve your stress.

In today’s society, neck and shoulder pain have become more and more common. Occasionally, it is due to sleeping in a funny position but more often it is a direct result of our technology-based lifestyles. Constant texting and typing across a multitude of devices from the time we are young children and teens, takes its toll on our bodies. It’s no wonder that by the time we are mid-way through life, we are feeling the effects of this lifestyle.

Using yoga to alleviate neck and shoulder tension and pain, is more effective than any other method. Not only will you be able to ease your physical pain through restorative yoga poses, you will also have the added bonus of calming your mind. Don’t wait any longer, living with chronic pain will only become worse. Start your restorative yoga journey today and use the Yoga Burn Challenge to help you reach new levels of health and wellness!

Thanks for reading and talk to you soon!

The Help My Fitness Team


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