Yoga For Neck Pain
With an increase in lifestyle-induced conditions, neck pain was reported to be one of the five major chronic pain conditions in terms of years lost to disability and prevalence.  One of the important reasons for chronic neck pain is directly related to economic development. So much so, that living conditions/standards can affect the way we eat, sleep, exercise, and so on. Naturally, this will impact most of our daily lives.
Neck pain is a common presenting symptom in the primary care setting and causes significant disability.  The broad discriminational opinion requires an effective but global assessment; thus, emphasis is generally placed on red flags that can help in the early recognition and treatment of further concerning symptoms, similar as traumatic injuries, infection, vascular symptoms, and other conditions. The critical element in forming a diagnosis of this condition is an accurate case history. Physical examination findings can supplement the patient’s medical history, but possibly diagnostic imaging and electrodiagnostic tests may be required, especially in degenerative or chronic conditions.
There is a direct socio-economic relation to this condition.  It is established that with an increase in the economic status of an individual, there is an increase in the incidence of chronic neck pain; people are more rooted to their work desks, computers, or TVs and find little or no time for physical activity The same implies to people who have harsher living conditions. Let’s discuss these in more detail.
Neck pain can also radiate down the arm, causing numbness and tingling. It can also cause headaches, muscle weakness, and problems with balance. These issues together can make it difficult to do everyday activities.  Neck pain has emerged as one of the most difficult to treat conditions since it tends to recur.
When left untreated, it can lead to other conditions such as tension headaches and vertebral problems.  While there are many conservative treatments available, such as medication, physical therapy, and chiropractic care, yoga has proved effective treatment for neck pain. Yoga helps to improve flexibility and strength in the neck muscles, which can help to reduce pain. In addition, yoga also helps to improve breathing and relaxation, which can help to reduce stress and tension headaches.
Yoga offers a holistic form of care that can help improve the underlying causes of neck pain.  It is a safe and effective treatment that can be used in conjunction with other treatments or on its own. For best results, it is recommended to seek out a certified yoga instructor who can help you to find the right poses for your specific needs.
Underlying Causes of Neck Pain
Neck Pain can be caused due to various underlying reasons.  Some of these are:
Each of these causes can lead to neck pain, either on its own or in combination with other factors. Muscle tension and spasm are often caused by poor posture, repetitive motions, or stress. Joint stiffness can be due to arthritis or degenerative changes.  Nerve compression can be caused by herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or tumors. Degenerative changes are often a result of aging. Injury or trauma can occur from car accidents, sports injuries, or falls.
Degeneration of Neck Musculature
Degeneration of neck musculature is also sometimes referred to as atrophying of the neck muscles. In most cases, it happens as people age and can be the result of a sedentary lifestyle. This condition can lead to neck pain and discomfort, as well as decreased range of motion. Other causes can include injuries, repetitive motions, or diseases like arthritis. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can interfere with the quality of life.
There are a few things that you can do to help prevent degeneration of the neck muscles, including exercising regularly and avoiding sitting in the same position for extended periods. The degeneration of neck muscles can be halted and in some cases stopped. Evidence suggests that the following methods can prevent or halt the degeneration of neck muscles:
Evidence suggests that these methods are effective in preventing or halting the degeneration of neck muscles. In addition to these, yoga has been demonstrated to be beneficial in slowing down the degeneration of neck muscles due to overuse by strengthening the muscles.  A study showed that when people did yoga for just 30 minutes a day, they had significantly less neck pain than those who did not do yoga. 
Yoga has demonstrated tremendous potential in not just strengthening the musculature in and around the neck, but also in preventing pain from arising in the first place. It is a low-impact exercise that can be done by people of all ages, and it has been shown to be especially beneficial for those who suffer from chronic neck pain. If you are looking for an exercise routine that will help keep your neck healthy, consider incorporating yoga into your weekly routine.
While there is no foolproof way to prevent degeneration of the neck muscles, evidence suggests that Yoga might be the most effective at slowing this process.  Activities like weightlifting and running can also help keep the neck muscles healthy, as they work to keep the head and spine in alignment.
Complimentary or Alternative Medicine
There are other methods using which neck pain can be managed as well. Some people may find relief through complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage therapy, and yoga.  However, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of these therapies for neck pain. It is important to speak with a healthcare professional before starting any new treatments.
The usage of CAM for managing neck pain was evaluated in a study, which found that there was a small but statistically significant improvement in pain relief and functional ability among those who used CAM therapies. However, the number of participants in the study was low and more research is needed to draw any firm conclusions.
Overall, there is some evidence to suggest that alternative therapies may be beneficial for neck pain. When CAM was compared to Yoga for neck pain, a study performed in 2015 found that those who used Yoga had significantly better results in terms of pain intensity, neck disability, and quality of life when compared to those who used CAM.  In addition, the study found that the effects of Yoga were long-lasting, whereas the effects of CAM were not. The key focus of this study was on the improvement of neck disability and pain intensity, so future studies should look at additional outcome measures to get a more complete picture of the benefits of Yoga for neck pain.
Despite these findings, it is important to note that not all forms of Yoga are created equal. Some Yoga practices may be more beneficial than others for people with neck pain. For example, Yin Yoga is particularly helpful, as it focuses on releasing tension in the body rather than strenuously stretching muscles.  Yin yoga when compared to other forms of yoga, such as Ashtanga and Hatha, is a much slower practice that allows for deep stretching without the risk of injury. This makes it an ideal form of exercise for people with neck pain, who may not be able to handle more vigorous forms of Yoga.
Ashtanga and Hatha yoga forms may also be practiced safely by people with neck pain, but it is important to listen to the body and not push too hard. If any poses cause pain, they should be avoided. Instead, focus on gentle stretches and postures that release tension in the neck and shoulders. Regular practice of Yoga, regardless of the type, can help to ease neck pain by loosening tight muscles and improving range of motion.
Management of Neck Pain
Treatment of mechanical or non-neuropathic neck pain includes short-term use of painkillers and in more severe cases, possibly injections. Still, long-term data for these interventions are limited. Acupuncture and other complementary medicines/alternative therapies may be helpful in some cases. Advanced imaging and surgical evaluation may be warranted for cases with worsening neurologic function or chronic pain.
As a matter of necessity, people started investigating the various reasons that could primarily be responsible for bringing about this condition and the best possible prevailing treatment options to alleviate a person from neck pain. Yoga came to the forefront as one of the most cost-effective alternate systems to treat chronic neck pain.  The findings across several independent pieces of research revealed that people who practiced yoga were the least likely to suffer from chronic neck pain.
More studies and research revealed that Yogic exercises are one of the best methods to reduce pain. Besides, another study demonstrated that it is the most cost-effective pain management system known. The exercises mainly involve physical bending/stretching and suitable postures along with effective and well-researched breathing techniques that strengthen the muscles around the neck region.  These result in regulating the pituitary-adrenal axis and the corresponding sympathetic nervous system.
The effectiveness of yogic exercises has been proved with clinical evidence. An equally important consideration of using yoga techniques is the safety involved in practicing the various recommended postures and stretches. Most of these techniques work simply to keep the muscles in your neck engaged and useful.
Yoga in Neck Pain
Yoga can be used to manage neck pain. Several different yoga poses can help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the neck. These poses can also help to improve circulation and increase flexibility. Yoga is a low-impact form of exercise that can be used by people of all ages and fitness levels.  It is important to consult with a doctor or physiotherapist before starting any new exercise program.
Studies show that yoga is effective in reducing pain and improving function in people with chronic neck pain. Yoga may also help to reduce the risk of developing neck pain in the first place. If you have neck pain, there are a few things you can do to make your yoga practice more comfortable:
There are many different types of yoga, so it is important to find one that suits your needs. If you are new to yoga, consider attending a class at a local studio or hiring a personal instructor. Yoga can be a great way to improve your overall health and well-being. Neck pain is a common problem that can cause difficulty moving the neck, headaches, and even arm pain.
Neck pain can also be caused by poor posture. Yoga is a great way to improve your posture and help alleviate neck pain. A study published in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy found that yoga is an effective treatment for neck pain-related disabilities.  The study found that participants who practiced yoga had significant improvements in neck pain, disability, and range of motion.
Most participants experienced yoga to be a gentle, low-impact form of exercise that helped stretch and strengthen the muscles in the neck and shoulders. Participants also saw an improvement in the overall range of motion and flexibility. Additionally, some participants also reported that it helped alleviate stress and tension, which was leading to their neck pain.
In another study published in The Clinical Journal of Pain, yoga was found to be an effective treatment for chronic neck pain when compared to other home-based exercises.  The study randomly placed participants into two groups -Yoga, and exercise. Patients in the Yoga group attended a 9-week session and were given a home practice program. This study was conducted with 51 participants (mean age 47.8 years, 82.4% female) and found that the yoga group reported lower neck pain intensity than the exercise group after a while. The yoga group also showed a better mental quality of life and motion range as well as an increased pressure pain threshold for their necks when compared to the exercise program which did not experience these benefits in comparison.
This evidence points to the fact that yoga may be more effective than even home-based exercises at relieving chronic nonspecific neck pain over a given period and improves aspects like mental quality of life and even muscle mobility. Based on the evidence, yoga not only helps reduce symptoms related to neck pain but may also help alleviate stress and tension. These benefits make yoga an excellent form of exercise for those suffering from neck pain.
While there is enough evidence to conclude that the general population can benefit from employing yoga to treat their neck pain, yoga has also shown some promise for people suffering from neck pain originating due to cancers and tumors. Studies relating head and neck cancers to yoga interventions are sparse, but one study showed that patients undergoing radiation therapy who also practiced yoga reported significantly less fatigue and better sleep quality than the control group.  Yoga has also been shown to improve quality of life and reduce anxiety in cancer patients.
The study found that those who practiced yoga had significantly lower levels of anxiety and pain, as well as better quality of life when compared to the control group who did not practice yoga.
Overall, the evidence suggests that yoga can be beneficial for people suffering from neck pain, including those whose neck pain is caused by cancer or other tumors. Yoga may help to reduce fatigue, anxiety, and pain while also improving sleep quality and quality of life.
Further research is needed to determine whether or not yoga is an effective treatment for neck pain specifically caused by cancers and tumors, but current evidence seems to suggest that it may be helpful. When practicing yoga for neck pain, be sure to listen to your body and avoid any positions or movements that cause pain or discomfort. If you experience any worsening symptoms, stop practicing yoga and consult your healthcare provider.
One of the lesser-known benefits of yoga is its ability to improve sleep quality. A study found that a group of participants with chronic neck pain who practiced yoga experienced significant improvements in sleep quality, compared to a control group.  Yoga has also been found to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are often comorbid with chronic neck pain. A study published in the journal PLOS One found that a group of participants with chronic neck pain who were randomized to a yoga intervention showed significant reductions in both anxiety and depression symptoms, compared to a control group.  This study also attributed the improvements in neck pain symptoms to the reductions in anxiety and depression.
Yoga Poses for Alleviating Neck Pain
There is a multitude of yoga poses that can help relieve neck pain. Yogic asanas can help relieve symptoms of neck pain. Some asanas are more beneficial than others for this condition.  The following are some of the best poses for neck pain:
Cat Cow Pose or Marjaryasana/Bitilasana: This yogic exercise gently stretches the neck and spine. The Cat-Cow Pose is a simple, yet effective pose to help relieve neck pain. To begin, start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. As you inhale, drop your belly towards the ground and lift your chin and chest towards the sky, arching your back. This is the Cow Pose. On the exhale, tuck your chin towards your chest and round your back towards the sky, dropping your head and drawing your navel up towards your spine. This is the Cat Pose. Repeat this sequence slowly 10-20 times.
Downward Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana: This pose strengthens the arms, legs, and spine while stretching the neck and shoulders. To perform the downward dog pose, start in a tabletop position with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Tuck your toes and lift your hips up and back, extending your spine and lengthening your neck. Hold for 30 seconds before releasing.
Pigeon Pose Kapotasana: This stretch opens up the hips and releases tension in the neck. To perform the pigeon pose, start in a kneeling position. Place your right ankle on top of your left thigh and slowly lower your torso toward the floor. Extend your left arm out in front of you and hold for 30 seconds before switching sides.
Fish Pose or Matsyasana: This pose helps to open up the chest and stretch the neck muscles. To perform the fish pose start in a supine position on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and your arms by your sides. Slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor, using your hands to support your back if necessary. Hold for 30 seconds before releasing back to the floor.
Sphinx Pose or Salamba Bhujangasana: This pose helps to open up the chest and stretch the neck muscles. The Sphinx Pose is a gentle back-bend that helps to open up the chest and stretch the front of the neck. To enter the pose, begin by lying on your stomach with your legs stretched out behind you. Place your elbows under your shoulders and press your forearms into the ground. Use your abdominal muscles to lift your torso and head off of the ground. Hold this position for 5-10 breaths before releasing back down to the ground.
Child’s Pose or Balasana: The Child’s Pose is another restorative yoga pose that can help to relieve neck pain. To begin, start on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. As you exhale, slowly sit back on your heels and stretch your arms out in front of you. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to a minute.
Triangle Pose or Trikonasana: Finally, the Triangle Pose can also help to relieve neck pain. To perform the Triangle Pose, stand with your feet three to four feet apart and turn your right toes out 90 degrees and your left toes about 45 degrees. Extend your arms straight out to your sides, parallel to the floor. Bend from your waist to the right, keeping your back straight, and reach down toward your right ankle. Hold for 30 seconds before switching sides. Repeat two or three times on each side.
Each of these poses can be modified to better suit your individual needs and level of comfort. If you are new to yoga, it is best to consult with a yoga instructor before starting any of these poses. However, even gentle stretching can help to relieve tension in the neck and improve overall mobility. Neck pain can be a debilitating condition, but with careful attention and some simple yoga poses, you can start to feel an improvement in your symptoms.
Detailed Benefits of Yoga for Neck Pain
The Benefits of yoga for neck pain have been increasingly studied in recent years.  There is evidence that yoga may help reduce pain and improve function in people with chronic neck pain. Yoga has been shown to improve strength, flexibility, and balance, which may help to reduce the risk of falls and further injury. Additionally, yoga helps reduce stress and anxiety, which can also aggravate neck pain. Here are the detailed benefits you can derive from yoga if you suffer from chronic neck pain:
Contraindications to Using Yoga For Neck Pain Management
There are several contraindications to using yoga for managing neck pain.  Usage of yoga to treat neck pain in the presence of an active neoplasm is a strong contraindication because of the potential to cause compression of the tumor. Neck pain is a common complaint, with approximately two-thirds of adults experiencing it at some point in their lives. As discussed before, many different factors can contribute to neck pain, such as muscle tension, poor posture, and injuries.
If you have uncontrolled hypertension, yoga may not be the perfect choice for you, as poses that involve inverted poses and headstands can increase your blood pressure. Yoga can also cause blood pressure to rise if you are pregnant. You should also avoid yoga if you had a recent myocardial infarction since some of the poses may put a strain on your heart.
Yoga in the event of Cervical spondylolisthesis or instability of the cervical spine should be avoided as well. If you suffer from Cervical spondylolisthesis or instability, avoid yoga postures that put direct pressure on the spine, such as headstands, shoulder stands, and plow pose. Be sure to speak with your doctor before starting a yoga practice if you have any of these conditions. If you have Glaucoma, yoga should be avoided because certain poses may increase intraocular pressure.
People with High blood pressure should avoid deep breathing exercises and inverted poses, like headstands and shoulder stands. Individuals with Diabetes should consult a doctor before starting a yoga program, as some yoga postures may improve blood sugar control. Pregnant women should not do any inversions (poses where the head is below the heart), since these could potentially lead to decreased blood flow to the fetus. Similarly, in cases where a patient has an acute herniated disc, yoga may be best avoided as well since some poses could worsen the condition.
Overall, yoga can be a great way to manage neck pain when done correctly and with caution. Certain poses should be avoided, but many others can help to improve neck mobility, strength, and flexibility. If you are experiencing neck pain, it is best to speak with a doctor or physical therapist before starting a yoga program to determine which poses are safe for you.