Yoga: Preventing Neck Injuries


Yoga offers a lot of benefits. In fact, it can do wonders for neck problems too. In addition, it can also teach safer, healthier posture habits that will make your practice to go smoothly. However, there are poses that can bring you harm, especially if done wrongly. Examples of such poses are Sirsasana (Headstand) and Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand). The best way to approach these poses is with the knowledge of proper alignment.

Look at the muscles of the back and neck region. What makes them to cause so much trouble, and how can we use yoga to help them function well? The levator scapulae are the primary muscles at the back of our neck. These muscles extend from the cervical (neck) vertebrae to each inner upper scapula (shoulder blade). There are other muscles in this region. All of them help us to lift us to bend our neck well.

Our lifestyle is full of stress. We come across stress of a dealing with difficult people, busy deadlines, and lack of sleep. All of these certainly tighten our neck and jaw muscles. A forward head posture is also a factor for many people. Take for instance, the weight of an average head is 12 to 15 pounds. However, when this weight sits forward of the central line of the spine, the muscles on the back of the neck, will certainly have to work harder to keep the head up against the pull of gravity.

In a nutshell, whether it is due to stress or even poor head-neck alignment, chronic tightness especially in the scapulae and the upper trapezius can cause significant neck pain. In fact, as the muscles pull down, on the base of the upper neck and the skull, they also pull up on the scapula as well. All of this will accumulate to cause compression on our cervical vertebra. In addition, such kind of tightness as well as compression can cause arthritis. It can also lead to nerve pressure that causes pain to radiate down the arm and increase the possibility of neck muscle injuries occurring.

Do no harm on the mat

One major key rule while practicing hatha yoga is that you should “do no harm.” It is very important to avoid any yoga mistakes that may cause you some neck injuries. However, if you come back to yoga after many years of neck tension, the muscles that are located at the back region of your neck will probably be somehow short and tight. In addition, this will make your ability to bring your head towards your chest to be limited. In this condition, you do not have to force your tight neck. Take it gently until you are free.