By Faye Martins
If one graduated from yoga teacher training and never taught a class for life, he or she would have many yogic solutions to common ailments. Among the requests to reduce pain in specific areas, the cervical spine is definitely one of the top ten most afflicted areas. Neck pain ranges in severity from mildly annoying to severely debilitating. Neck muscles are often a landing spot for tension, stress and anxiety.
Many of us inadvertently tense these muscles while working at the computer or concentrating on something. The results are pain and discomfort in the neck, shoulders and upper back. Yoga training can relieve some of this tension and pain by decompressing the neck muscles. If we continue to stretch the neck muscles on a regular basis, the pain and discomfort will subside.
When performing any yoga asana, it’s always important to keep the neck in line with the spine to protect it from injury. There are also asanas that will specifically target the spine and neck, helping to relieve tension, improve posture and prevent future neck discomfort. Try some simple neck stretches to keep it flexible and free from tension.
This yoga pose is commonly used for meditation. It allows you to focus on your posture by keeping your spine straight, shoulders down and neck elongated. As you practice easy pose, you will find that better posture comes more naturally throughout the rest of the day.
Shoulder stretches relieve tension in the shoulders and upper back. As these muscles begin to relax and stretch they allow the neck to begin to do the same. Shoulder stretches also allow you to concentrate on pulling the shoulders down and back, opening up the chest and creating length in the neck.
Half Spinal Twist
A seated twist like the half spinal twist lengthens and stretches the spine. As you twist, concentrate on extending the spine up through the neck to lengthen and straighten it as well.
A neck roll is like a mini massage for your neck that you can do without the aide of another person’s hands. Roll slowly forward from side to side, and then gradually incorporate a full roll in each direction. Incorporate breathing by inhaling in one direction and exhaling the other direction. Neck rolls will release tension felt around the entire neck. Never tilt the head back during this exercise.
Provide a gentle stretch to the back of the neck with chin-to-chest. This asana is easy to do anytime, anywhere. Take a break at the office and do it several times in your chair or even while you’re stopped at a stoplight on the way home from work.
As you gain flexibility in this asana, your ear will be able to get closer to the shoulder. Breathe deeply as you tilt your ear to one shoulder, then slowly lift your head back to a neutral position. Repeat on the other side.
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