Physical Therapy and Yoga: Relieving Neck Pain
Do you find that your yoga practice sometimes causes or increases neck pain? Poor alignment, a lack of strength in the appropriate muscles, and a lack of mobility or flexibility can place increased strain or force through the neck leaving you feeling as if your practice is hurting rather than helping.
One thing to think about is how you raise your arms overhead. If your shoulder blades glide up towards your ears you are overusing your upper trapezius muscles that run along the top of your shoulders. Try pulling your shoulder blades down away from your ears – this reduces tension in the upper trapezii.
If this is difficult, you may have weakness in your lower trapezius muscles. Lie on your belly with your arms at your sides and practice pulling your shoulder blades towards your spine and down your back. This engages your lower trapezii – the longer you hold, the more active and stronger these muscles become.
Tightness in the shoulders also causes overuse of the upper trapezii when raising arms overhead. Widen your arms rather than placing your palms together and see if this helps to drop the shoulder blades back and down along your rib cage. Feel your upper trapezii relax. Smile.
Try all of this in warrior II. As you extend your arms out notice what happens to your shoulder blades. Can you re-align them? Is your trunk lurching forward? Try straightening your torso. Are you craning your neck? Think about lengthening the back of your neck and then gently turn your gaze.