Neck pain can be a result of poor lifestyle choices, such as staying glued to the computer or mobile phone screen for long hours, having a poor posture, craning your neck too much, not exercising, among others.

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Neck pain is accompanied by stiffness and sometimes a strange throbbing. It is, however, preventable. According to Akshar, a yoga master, spiritual guru and lifestyle coach, to combat this, it is best to start your day with yoga and regular stretching. “This can lessen problems like stiffness or pain around the neck and shoulder regions,” he says.

The expert explains the following yogic techniques that can offer relief. You can include them into your practice at least thrice a week. Read on.

Yogic warm-up

Akshar says it is advisable to begin your practice with Sukshma Vyayam or subtle exercises. “The warm-up routine mobilises your ankles to slowly warm up the joints, with gentle rotation of hips, arms, wrists, head and neck. Take a brisk walk as it will stretch and loosen your muscles, preparing your body for the practice and helping you prevent injuries. Before you attempt any back-bending postures like Camel Pose and Snake Pose, ensure that your body is sufficiently warmed up,” he adds.

1. Marjariasana Variation (Bird Dog)

This yoga pose is ideal for increasing the strength of the transverse abdominals and the back.

– Kneeling on all fours, (use double mats for better cushioning) stretch one arm forward and the opposite leg back. Hold for a breath, then switch sides.
– Repeat five times on each side.
– It is good for abdominals and back support.
– It improves spinal health.
– It also keeps the brain young and improves concentration.

2. Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

– Kneel down on the yoga mat or use any soft surface.
– Place your hands on the hips.
– Slowly start to arch your back.
– Slide your palms over your ankles till the arms are straight.
– Avoid any strain on your neck by keeping it in a neutral position.
– Exhale and take your time to come back to the initial pose.

3. Sarpasana (Snake Pose)

– Lie down flat on your stomach.
– Interlock your palms behind your back.
– Take a deep breath in and retain (this is known as Kumbakh).
– Lift your head, shoulders and chest as much as possible.
– Keep your feet down firmly on the ground.
– Hold the posture for 10 seconds.
– Exhale and relax.

The expert concludes by saying that a major cause for stiffness in the neck, shoulder and back could be due to stress. “When you are suffering from stress, this accumulated nervous energy resides in the neck and shoulder region leading to discomfort. With gentle yoga asanas, breathing exercises and meditation, you can release the tension,” he concludes.

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