With social distancing orders still in place worldwide, the most privileged among us have been given the opportunity to ditch the office for the “home office.”

The problem is that most new WFH-ers’ office setups are not ergonomically designed for optimal posture, or neck and back health, according to London-based body-positive wellness coach and yoga instructor Donna Noble, founder of Curvesome Yoga, a community focused on making yoga and well-being accessible, inclusive, and diverse for everyone.

Cue Kia, because this WFH life got 🎶my neck, my back🎶 creaking and cracking.

Slumping over our computers while sitting on our sofas and beds isn’t doing our necks and backs any favors. “If you’re glancing down at your device, your head angles towards the device, and when that happens, your neck is pulled down,” explains Noble. Your noggin, after all, weighs a whopping 10+ pounds.

These days, all that (^) gets compounded by the fact that most of us physically hold stress as muscle tension in our necks and traps.

Karena Wu, a physical therapist and owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy in NYC, explains: “The neck and upper back area hold a lot of tension…The amount of time spent with forward head and shoulder posturing increases the stress on the soft tissue and joints in the area.”

Noble adds: “These are unprecedented times with more stress than any of us are used to, which translates to more physical symptoms of holding stress.”

Basically, in the middle of What The F*ck Rona 2020, neck pain is to be expected.

A longtime antidote to both muscle mayhem and stress, yoga can actually help with your neck pain.

One 2016 review on the topic even concluded that “yoga is beneficial for chronic neck pain” and is “a safe, effective therapy for chronic neck pain relief.” *Applause*

Eager to hit the mat to banish your neck pain? Noble recommends starting with the five exercises below. “Just be sure to stop if at any point you feel pain — pain is the body telling you something is wrong,” she says.

1. Shoulder roll

If your nape is bugging you, you’ve probs already started doing some of these bad boys. So, if you have been doing them, keep it up! If not, read up on how to do ’em, and then get after it.

“Just be sure to really focus on pulling your shoulders away from your ears, to feel the tension melt away,” says Noble.

How to do it

  • Stand or sit with feet planted hip-width apart. Brace your midline.
  • Maintaining a neutral gaze, in one fluid motion, roll shoulders up, back, and then down.
  • Repeat 10 times, breathing throughout.
  • Switch directions, rotating shoulders up, forward, and then down.
  • Repeat 10 times.

2. Cat-Cow

Basically a dance move that involves being on all fours, Cat-Cow warms up all the muscles from the tip of your head to your tail, according to Noble.

“As you move the spine, you’ll be loosening tension that exists all along it,” she says.

How to do it

  • Start on all fours, with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips.
  • Exhale, arching your back and rounding spine toward the ceiling. (You should look like an angry cat here.)
  • Hold for 3 breaths, letting your head hang heavy between your arms.
  • Inhale, lift tailbone, and roll shoulders back. Gaze up and allow your belly to sink toward the floor.
  • Repeat 10–12 times.

3. Standing Forward Fold

On your marks… get set… give your neck, back, and the backs of your legs a good lil stretch!

How to do it

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  • Draw belly button in toward spine to activate midline.
  • Fold forward at your waist, resting palms on the floor (or on a block between your feet).
  • Tuck chin into chest and exhale.
  • Continue inhaling and exhaling, allowing head to hang heavy toward the floor.
  • Hold for 4–6 breaths.

4. Seated Forward Fold

“Seated Forward Fold, like Standing Forward Fold, can help relieve stress and tension in the neck,” Noble says. Which one you opt for ultimately depends on your preference.

How to do it

  • Sit with legs extended in front of you.
  • To brace your core, think about hiding your ribs from the sun. Reach arms straight overhead.
  • Keeping spine long, hinge at hips, allowing upper body to close in toward legs.
  • Continue lowering until juuust before your back starts to round. Take hold of knees, shins, or toes.
  • Inhale and exhale, deepening fold on exhale as is comfortable.

5. Thread the Needle

“The Thread the Needle pose may look funky, but it’s another good one for relieving tension in the neck, shoulders, and back,” says Noble.

No question: Looking funny > neck pain.

How to do it

  • Start on all fours, with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Brace core.
  • Press into left hand for stability. Lift right hand, sliding it palm-up on the floor between left hand and left knee.
  • As right hand travels, bring right shoulder toward the floor.
  • Hold for 4–6 breaths.
  • Slowly return to the starting position before switching sides.

While you can yoga your way to lower cortisol levels, it won’t do diddly-squat for your workstation setup. So, if your neck is hurting and you have a sneaking suspicion your home office could be to blame, it’s time to give your workspace a makeover.

Noble’s recommendation: Position your monitor at eye level and arm’s-length away from you. If you have a detachable keyboard, position it so that when you’re using it, your elbow is in line with your wrist.

It’s also a good idea to choose a chair that lets your feet reach the floor, she says. Your whole body, after all, is connected!

You really don’t want to mess around with your neck. If after a few days you still have pain, Noble recommends getting the opinion of a doctor or chiropractor.

The same goes if at any point the pain is greater than 6 out of 10 on the 1-to-10 pain scale or if the discomfort is accompanied by any numbness, tingling, or loss of strength in your hands or arms.

Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.