Before You Make Things Worse...
As a yoga instructor I'm constantly asked questions like:
- "Hey, what's a good pose for my hips?"
- "What are some good postures for my lower back?"
- "What's the best pose to alleviate the pain in my neck?"
There's never an easy answer to these questions because everyone's body is different. Furthermore, it might not be the best thing to jump right in the deep end of the yoga pool without swimming a few laps first.
Getting to the point - try loosening up the muscles AROUND the area you want to target.
Warm Up First
I can't recommend warming up first enough!
Poses such as Cat/Cow and Child's Pose are wonderful to get things loose and moving. There may be a strong temptation to dive into focusing on your neck right away, but this is what I'm encouraging you to NOT do.
We can look at that neck later on... For now just focus on a gentle warm up of easy poses and plenty of breathing.
Shoulders & Upper Back
Consider targeting the muscles through your shoulder and upper back area first, such as the trapezius and your deltoids.
Personally, I enjoy eagle arms for this... Once you have your arms wrapped, simply inhale your elbows upward, and then softly relax your elbows back down. This slow gentle movement gets into this area quite well.
Another pose to loosen this area is Half Tortoise. I encourage my students to reach their fingertips forward on an inhale, and then relax the shoulders on the exhales.
Both of these soothing motions are detailed in this 25 minute yoga flow...
Follow Along With This Gentle 25 Minute Class For That Stiff Neck
Let Your Head Hang
Downward Facing Dog has dozens of little elements to it. Although it may be a somewhat complicated posture to do correctly - I recommend focusing on one simple element...
Let your head hang heavy.
This means relax your neck and allow gravity to do all the work of creating a little bit of space through the vertebrae in your neck.
After Down Dog, try Forward Fold as well. I always encourage students to put a significant bend in their knees (if needed).
I even suggest bringing about 10% of your weight forward into your hands/fingertips so you can really allow that neck to soften.
And NOW You May Target Your Neck
The last time I checked "Seated Neck Rolls" has yet to make it into an official list of yoga poses, but teachers seem to call for them a lot...
We all pretty much know what neck rolls are... Bring your chin to your chest and then gently rotate your head around.
But please... go slowly and avoid making large swooping or drastic movements that could injure your neck.
The Towel Roll
A gentle, yet powerful, tool my chiropractor once showed me was the towel roll trick.
Simply place a rolled up towel under your neck as you lie down. It may take some moving around to find a position that feels good for you - but it's worth it.