By Dr Harsh Sharma, DHMS, BHMS
Published January 24, 2015, Last updated October 21, 2016
Cervical pain is a common problem affecting a lot of people. It is seen most commonly in the computer users. At the same time, certain professionals like teachers, authors, advocates, typists and secretarial staff are more prone to cervical pain.
Exercising your cervical muscles is of great benefit if you want to get rid of the pain. Strengthening the cervical muscles with exercise will go a long way in reducing the pain. In this context, I have found that yoga is very helpful. The yoga asanas or exercises improve the abnormal curvature of the spine. They help in regaining the lost shape of the spine. At the same time, these asanas or exercises reduce the stiffness and the strain in the muscles around the cervical spine. With the regular practice of these, one can easily cure oneself of any cervical pain. The other attendant symptoms like vertigo and numbness of the hands or fingers are also cured. These asanas or exercises are easy to perform and can be done by anyone. The only requirement is that they should be done on a regular basis.
Here I am giving three yoga asanas for cervical pain that I have found immensely helpful in cases of cervical pain. I am also giving in detail the various steps for each asana. To make it easier to understand, pictures of the asanas are also being given.
Bhujanga asana for cervical pain
One particular yogic asana is of immense benefit in treating the cervical pain. This asana is known as ‘bhujanga asana’ or the serpent asana. Bhujanga is a Sanskrit word. It means the snake. The pose of the bhujanga asana imitates the agitated snake with a raised hood. In English, it is often known as the Cobra pose.
The Bhujanga asana is one of the best yoga asanas for preventing as well as curing cervical pain. It strengthens the neck muscles as well as the shoulder muscles. At the same time, it reduces the strain in the cervical muscles. Most of the time, we are sitting or standing bent forwards. It is largely due to this forward bending posture that we get the cervical pain. Bhujanga asana tends to reverse this forward bending of the cervical spine. It does so in a very gentle manner without any jerk or strain. The asana is very simple to perform and provides almost miraculous relief from pain and that too not of transient nature.
- Lie down on the abdomen and place your hands on both sides along the shoulders.
- Stretch out the toes of the feet and let your forehead touch the ground.
- Then slowly raise your head from the ground till the torso is completely raised from the ground, while the legs and the pubis are touching the ground.
- Maintain this position as long as is possible and then slowly return to the original position on the ground.
- Rest for 30 seconds and repeat the entire exercise about three to four times.
Remember, no jerking motions. All movements have to be slow and smooth. This one asana is in itself capable of curing so called cervical spondylosis in its severest form.
Benefits of Bhujanga asana in preventing cervical pain
- The Bhujanga asana strengthens the muscles of the neck, back and shoulders
- It strengthens the arms, the forearms and the hands
- It improves the flexibility of the neck muscles
- It reduces the stiffness in the back and the neck region
- Improves blood circulation in the back and the neck
- It stretches the back muscles and relieves any pent up stress
Camel Pose or Ushtra asana for cervical pain
In Sanskrit, Ushtra means the camel. In this asana, one bends backwards and makes a pose like that of a camel.
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent and your buttocks against your feet
- Now stand on your knees, bend backwards at the waist and hold your left ankle with the left hand and the right ankle with the right hand
- Push your chest and abdomen outwards as much as you can
- Hold this position for as long as you can
- Rest for a minute and repeat the whole cycle for at least 3-4 times
Benefits of Ushtra asana for cervical pain
- It helps cure the abnormal curvature of spine
- Strengthens the muscles of the neck, the shoulder and the lower back
- Improves flexibility of the lower back as well as the neck and shoulder muscles
Dhanura asana for cervical pain
Dhanur is also a Sanskrit word. It means a bow. This asana is so named because the body is curved into the shape of a bow. The steps of the asana are as follows-
1 Lie down on your abdomen and keep the arms alongside your body with palms facing upward.
2 Place your chin on the floor. Exhale, bend your knees, and grasp the right ankle with the right hand and the left ankle with the left hand.
3. While inhaling, slowly raise your legs by pulling the ankles up and raising the knees off the floor while simultaneously lifting your torso off the floor. Hold your breath. The weight of the body should be resting on the abdomen.
4. Tilt the head as far back as possible. Hold the posture as long as you can comfortably hold your breath.
5. Slowly exhale bringing your knees to the floor, release your ankles, and slowly bring your legs and arms straight down on the floor. Turn your head to one side, assuming the prone posture you began with.
Benefits of ushtra asana for cervical pain
The Dhanurasana stretches the back and abdominal muscles. This is helpful for the back as well as the abdomen.
- It stretches the whole of the spine right from the neck to the lower back
- It strengthens all the back muscles
- It strengthens the thigh muscles, the arms, shoulders and the neck
- Improves flexibility of the back muscles
- It improves the functioning of the abdominal organs especially the pancreas by stimulating the flow of blood to the viscera.