Yoga for Neck Pain: 3 PNF Stretches

By: Abi Carver

Woman doing yoga exercise outside

Share with your community


Neck pain is a drag. It drains your energy, leaves you vulnerable to muscle tweaks and headaches and stops you from doing the things that you love. Just sitting with poor posture can give you a pain in the neck but stack a sport on top of that and your days of effortless head-turning are numbered.

For cyclists, drawing the head forward for prolonged periods to look at the road ahead creates tension in the neck and upper back and compresses the cervical spine. For surfers, paddling into the waves with the neck raised and extended puts repetitive strain on the neck and shoulders. Swimming can cause similar problems. And sports like weightlifting and running, if practiced with poor posture and unreleased everyday tension, can aggravate pain and stiffness in this area. 

Typically a triangle of tension develops from the jaw, to the neck, shoulders and upper back.

Get started:

1. Neck and Shoulder Rolls

Roll your shoulders forward and back, and make half circles with your head 5 or 6 times each. Take these movements slowly and carefully—moving with your breath.

2. Seated Cat-Cow

This is a great spinal mobilization, especially for the thoracic region. Start with smaller movements and gradually increase your range from there. Keep your elbows out wide and make sure that your neck is supported. Inhale as you arch back and exhale as you round forward. 

3. Upper Body Mobilizations

These movements loosen up the shoulders, spine, abs and obliques. You can do 3-5 of each on either side—moving with your breath. If you can’t sit comfortably with your legs crossed, it’s fine to stand or sit in a chair.

  • Side Neck Stretch

Drop your left ear to your left shoulder and place your left hand on the right-hand side of your head. Inhale, press up against your hand for 4 seconds. Exhale, relax into the stretch for 8 seconds. Repeat 2-4 times on each side. 

You can look up to one side and press the back of your head into your hand and look down to one side and press up into your hand—moving the stretch to the different muscles in the side of your neck. 

5. Back Neck Stretch

Drop your chin to your chest and interlace your fingers behind your head. Inhale, press your head up into your hands to activate the muscles in your upper back and neck for 4 seconds. Exhale, relax into the stretch for 8 seconds. Repeat 2-4 times. 

You can repeat this stretch looking down and to the right, and down and to the left.

6. Hands-Under-Feet Pose

Bend your knees as much as you need to. Inhale, pull up on your feet for 4 seconds. Exhale, completely relax your neck and shoulders and hang your head for 8 seconds. Repeat 2-4 times. 

We share this article with permission. This article originally appeared here on Yoga 15’s blog.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter on the latest industry updates, Rethink happenings, and resources galore. Simply follow the link to the footer and enter your email.

Related Resources

  About this Podcast Episode On this episode, Angela and Kristin discuss a topic that...
Some of us grew up in households, and even schools, where punishments were the norm....
  About this Podcast Episode On this episode, Angela and Kristin discuss yet another important...

Learn more about Rethink

Take care of your people with RethinkCare’s evidenced-based solutions that support the well-being your entire employee base in all aspect of their lives - from personal to parenting, and professional

Build strong school communities and healthy, safe learning environments for all your students with RethinkEd’s evidence-based strategies and technology solutions across SEL, Special Ed, Behavioral & Training

Start, grow and manage your practice with Rethink’s workflow automation and evidenced-based clinical best practice tools that help you optimize outcomes and operations

Support your members and your provider networks with Rethink’s solutions that support autism care management across your network while offering unique value-added services to your members.

logo rethinkfirst white

Together We’re Powering Potential

Transforming the Behavioral Health landscape requires scalable platforms that address a broad range of mental, emotional, and wellness needs. At Rethink First we are proud to work across the continuum of care to help individuals and the people they care about live healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.

The leading behavioral and mental health enterprise platform to support working parents, caregivers and their families.

Award-winning solutions empower districts and their educators to improve outcomes and wellness for all tiers of students and to build healthy and safe learning environments.

Fully integrated workflow automation and evidenced-based clinical tools help behavioral health organizations optimize outcomes and operations.

Patent-pending clinical solutions and member engagement services streamline autism care management processes and support outcomes for health plans, providers, and members.