The most fragile of your spinal vertebrae, known as the C series, are in your neck and can seize up because of stress. The lack of mobility is annoying and should be addressed. That slim column is the base from which your head swivels and can alert you to danger or even a wink from a cute guy two desks down. People often roll their heads around to try to loosen up a stiff neck but a safer way is with yoga poses.
Kneel on the floor or sit in an armless, straight-backed chair. Lengthen your spine. If your shoulders have a tendency to travel up toward your ears, make a concerted effort to lower your scapula down your back. If your stiff neck permits, settle your head in the center between your shoulder blades. On an inhale, raise your right shoulder as high as you can, while lowering your left. When exhaling, lower your right shoulder and raise your left. Coordinate your shoulder shrugs with your inhale and exhale and carry on in this manner for up to two minutes.
Sit comfortably with a straight back. Shrug your shoulders down your back if they’re tensed up around your ears. Inhale, then on your exhale slowly drop your head toward your chin without forcing the movement. Inhale and raise your head, then exhale and slightly bend it to the left. Repeat this maneuver to the back and to the right and when you’ve completed the entire circuit, repeat twice more and then perform the neck rolls in a clockwise direction.
Spread your legs hip-width apart while standing. Bend your knees and then fold forward from your waist until your arms are dangling close to the floor. Let your head hang naturally from your neck. Breathe naturally and stay in this pose for up to a minute. For a seated variation, slide to the front of the chair and place your legs 2 or 3 feet apart. As in the standing variation, fold forward from your waist and let your arms and head droop downward. Remain in this pose for up to a minute. For both variations when you return to your original position, let your head come up last slowly.
Come onto your hands and knees on the floor and looking forward. Position your wrists directly under your shoulders and ensure that your knees and hips are in alignment as well. Take an inhale, and on your exhale, arch your back while tucking your tailbone under. Keep your arms rigid and let your head hang between your arms. Inhale and return to your original, neutral position where your back is flat, but keep your head dangling. Continue in this manner, alternating between cat pose and the neutral pose for up to three minutes.
Take it slow. Easing a stiff neck takes time and doing a couple of these exercises in the morning, during the day at work and before you go to bed should loosen you up.