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Yoga Asanas for Cervical Spondylitis

Yoga Asanas for Cervical Spondylitis

A physical health condition, Cervical Spondylosis is caused by the wear and tear of bones and cartilage in the neck (cervical vertebra) region. Chronic neck pain is caused by this degeneration of the bones and cartilage, and it can disrupt simple day-to-day activities. Lifestyle is the main factor that leads to Cervical Spondylosis. How we sit, stand and walk affects the spine. Carrying a heavy handbag or laptop case also has an impact. For example, while reading this article, pause and notice your posture. There is a good chance you are hunching over your phone or laptop screen. Imagine doing that for hours while working everyday. Even if you’re texting while walking or sitting on a train, you are likely hunching over your phone. Over time, this will cause problems. 

Cervical Spondylosis affects the cervical spine, that is, the vertebrae that forms the neck. Cervical Spondylosis causes deterioration to the vertebrae, discs and ligaments. They gradually lose the ability to provide cushioning for the neck. 

Causes of Cervical Spondylosis 

The condition is seen mostly in people above 50-60 years of age. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states that it is an extremely common condition that affects more than 85% of people above the age of 60. However, apart from the aging factor, cervical spondylosis can be caused by other factors too.

Among working professionals this condition occurs due to lifestyle changes and a sedentary life. Sitting at a desk for long hours and lack of physical exercise make this a chronic health issue in the future. Stress is a huge cause of cervical spondylosis. Uncomfortable and unhealthy postures for extended periods, stress in the neck due to the nature of work, spinal or neck injuries, slip-disk, and obesity are also known to contribute to the pain. Cervical Spondylosis can also be a hereditary problem. 

Symptoms of Cervical Spondylosis

Common symptoms include chronic neck pain, pain in the shoulder blades, constant upper back pain, stiff neck, headache in the back of the head,  numbness, difficulty in reflexes and in extreme cases even vertigo

Treatment for Cervical Spondylosis 

Many cases can be treated without undergoing surgery. Getting timely and appropriate medical attention, proper care, and regular exercising are often effective. Other forms of treatment commonly recommended by doctors include physiotherapy, painkillers, and antidepressants. Consciously improving one’s posture can also help reduce the strain on the neck and thus reduce the pain. Of course, one should always consult their doctor before making any changes to the prescribed medication or starting other treatments. 

Yoga for Cervical Spondylosis 

Yoga is a holistic practice that gives the body movement and the mind peace. A regular practice of this ancient science leads to a flexible body, calm mind and a positive attitude towards life. It helps alleviate pain, stretch and strengthen muscles and connective tissue and helps one break away from a sedentary lifestyle. It’s also effective in releasing stress. 

Yoga postures for Cervical Spondylosis

Cobra Pose

This pose expands the chest and strengthens the spine. It also helps soothe sciatica. This pose removes neck, spine and shoulder stiffness. The cobra pose reduces the severity of cervical spondylosis pain.

How to do cobra pose

  • Lie flat on the stomach with the legs straight, feet together and the soles of the feet facing upwards. 
  • Place the palms of the hands flat on the floor, below and slightly to the side of the shoulders, with the fingers together and pointing forward.
  • Position the arms so that the elbows point backward and are close to the sides of the body.
  • Rest the forehead on the floor and close the eyes.
  • Relax the whole body, especially the lower back. Now slowly raise the head.
  • Straighten the elbows, using the back muscles first, then the arm muscles to raise the trunk further and arch the back.
  • In the final position, the pubic bone remains in contact with the floor and the navel is raised a maximum of 3 mm. 
  • The arms may or may not be straight; this will depend on the flexibility of the back.
Cobra Pose

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose or Sitting Half Spinal Twist

This pose stretches the neck and shoulder and also energizes the spine, while also opening up the chest region. 

How to do half lord of the fishes pose

  • Sit in Dandasana with your feet together and spine straight. 
  • Now bend the left leg and place the left foot flat beside the right hip. 
  • Take the right leg over the left knee and place the left hand on the right knee and the right hand behind you. 
  • Now slowly twist the waist, shoulders and neck to the right and look over the right shoulder.
  • Ensure your spine is straight. 
  • Now look over the right shoulder while taking slow deep breaths. 
  • Release and repeat this on the other side. 
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose or Sitting Half Spinal Twist

Bow Pose

This asana stretches and stimulates the neck. It helps correct posture as well as strengthens the back. 

How to do bow pose: 

  • Lie flat on the stomach with the legs and feet together, and the arms and hands beside the body.
  • Bend the knees and bring the heels close to the buttocks. Grip the ankles with the hands.
  • Keep the knees and thighs firmly on the floor and the arms straight throughout the practice.
  • Place the chin on the floor.
  • Tense the legs and lift the feet backward while raising the head and chest as high as possible from the floor without straining.
  • Use the backward movement of the legs to assist the raising of the body, allowing the back muscles to remain passive. In the final position, the gaze is upwards without compressing the neck.
Bow Pose

Cat Pose

This asana stretches the neck and alleviates back pain. It gives the entire spine a much-needed movement that removes stiffness and tension. 

How to do cat pose: 

  • Come onto all fours with the palms directly under the shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Ensure your weight is equally distributed on all fours. 
  • Inhale and fill your abdomen with air as you let your belly drop towards the mat. There will be an arch in your back as you do this. Look up towards the ceiling and lengthen your neck and throat.
  • As you exhale, pull the naval towards the spine, curve your back and tuck your chin into your chest as you lift up. 
  • Continue this movement for a few breaths. Let your breath guide you through the movements. 
  • After a few rounds, release and come into child’s pose. 
Cat Pose

Bridge Pose

This asana improves the flow of blood to the head, thus relieving it of headache. It also stretches the neck.

How to do bridge pose: 

  • Lie on the back, bend the knees and bring the heels closer to the buttocks. Keep the heels firmly on the mat. The feet should be hip width apart on the floor with the knees and ankles in a straight line. 
  • Hold the ankles with your hands.
  • Inhale and slowly lift the buttocks and hips up. Now lift the back and arch the back upward as you raise the lower, middle and upper back off the floor. 
  • Now lift the chest as high as possible towards the chin without straining. Ensure that the feet and shoulders lie firmly on the ground. Keep the inner thighs and glutes active and engaged. The thighs should be parallel to each other. 
  • Gently roll the shoulders and support your weight with the shoulders, arms and feet. 
  • Stay here for a few deep breaths. 


Bridge Pose

Fish Pose

This asana strengthens the back of the neck. It also stretches and stimulates the throat and neck. It improves flexibility and gets rid of back and neck soreness. With your upper body stretched, air flowing into the lungs also improves. This pose is especially useful for cervical spondylosis caused by a desk job.

How to do fish pose: 

  • Sit down with the legs extended in front and place the hands on the mat behind them with the fingers tucked under their buttocks.
  • Now lower the elbows to the mat and lean backward. Make sure the shoulders are in line with the elbows. 
  • Slowly and gently drop the head back as far as it feels comfortable. Try to touch the crown of the head on the mat. 
  • Keep the chest up and open. Stay here and keep breathing deeply a few times. 
  • Now slowly lift the head up and release the arms to come out of the posture. 
Fish Pose

Crocodile Pose

This pose is designed for relaxation. It encourages the spine to resume a neutral position. 

How to do crocodile pose: 

  • Lie down on your stomach and bring your hands to the front of the mat. Slowly cross your arms in front of you, creating support to rest your forehead. 
  • You can also bring your arms to your side and press your forehead into the ground. Place the toes on the mat to stretch the legs and straighten the spine.
  • To challenge yourself and stretch your lower back, lift your upper body slightly. This will open the chest and release tension in the shoulders and back. It will also improve flexibility in your lower back.
  • Release the pose by returning to the starting position. If lifted, lower the chest slowly. Rotate your arms safely to avoid causing discomfort in the shoulders.
Crocodile Pose

Simple stretches like shoulder rotations and eye-roll exercises help provide temporary relief to cervical spondylosis. Slow neck rotations while sitting in Vajrasana is an effective way to exercise as well. Rotating the neck in clockwise and anti-clockwise direction 4-5 times each, bending the neck from the center to the right, and center to the left and bending the neck backwards are all helpful. However, one should avoid forward folding of the neck. 

All these stretches must be done slowly and equally on both sides. Yoga must be practiced regularly to see and experience the benefits. 

Other Yoga Practices for Cervical Spondylitis 

Apart from this, one can regularly do practices to relieve stress such as meditation, guided relaxation, and breathing techniques. Alternate nostril breathing, ocean breath, and humming bee breathing are helpful for stress relief. Making changes to one’s lifestyle and improving mindfulness will also help in managing the condition. 

Other tips to prevent Cervical Spondylosis include avoiding activity that puts too much pressure on the neck and lifting heavy weight. Taking breaks between work to give the neck a break also helps.

Yoga Asanas for Cervical Spondylitis
Shvasa Editorial Team

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