Many people experience frequent instances of neck pain, especially those who spend long hours sitting slumped over their desks or hunched over in front of their computers. Yoga may help alleviate neck pain by decompressing your cervical vertebrae and stretching the muscles that support your neck, according to "Yoga Journal." You can perform simple yoga neck stretches at your desk in just a few minutes.
The yoga neck stretch helps elongate and stretch the muscles in your neck, according to yoga instructors Elise Browning Miller and Carol Blackman in their book, "Life Is a Stretch: Easy Yoga, Anytime, Anywhere." Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and rest your hands in your lap. Lift your chin and look straight ahead. Inhale and drop your right ear to your right shoulder. Keep your left shoulder pressed down. Hold this stretch for a few moments, then return your head to center and repeat on the right side.
Yoga neck rolls can reduce neck and shoulder pain and help alleviate headaches caused by neck pain, according to yoga instructor Jan Baker in her book, "Yoga for Real People." This modified version of Baker's exercise can be performed at your desk. Sit up straight in your chair with your hands on your thighs and your feet flat on the floor. Gently drop your chin to your chest, then slowly roll your head over to the right. Continue rolling your head to the back so you are looking up at the ceiling, then roll your head to the left. Circle your head back to center with your chin to your chest. Repeat this exercise three times, then perform the exercise three more times in a counter-clockwise direction.
Seated Spinal Twist
According to yoga instructor Cybele Tomlinson in her book, "Simple Yoga," the Seated Spinal Twist helps alleviate feelings of tightness in your neck and back. Sit on the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Inhale and rotate your torso to the right. Reach your right arm around to the back of your chair if it is low enough to do so, or simply hold your right arm rest. Bring your left hand to rest on the outer part of your right thigh. Look over your right shoulder, then slowly rotate your head to look over your left shoulder. Return your head and body to center. Repeat this exercise on your left side.
Shoulder pain often accompanies or exacerbates neck pain. Sitting in front of your computer for extended periods of time can cause you to hunch your shoulders forward, resulting in tight neck and shoulder muscles. According to Tomlinson, the shoulder rotation exercise may help alleviate tension and increase mobility in your neck and shoulders. Sit in your chair with your spine straight and your feet flat on the floor. Rest your hands in your lap. Inhale and shrug your shoulders up to your ears as high as you can. Hold the shrug for a few seconds, then exhale and release. Perform several shrugs. Then rotate your shoulders back using a counterclockwise motion, bringing your shoulders up to your ears, back to the wall behind you, down to the floor and forward to the wall in front of you. Perform several counterclockwise rotations, then repeat the exercise several times in a clockwise direction.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.