Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Yoga for the Neck and Shoulders

 Today we will continue acquainting you with exercises for the neck and shoulders, which are effective and extremely useful for those who spend a lot of time sitting at the computer, and for those who suffer from chronic neck and shoulder pain. However, bear in mind that these exercises cannot be performed with fresh injuries or strained muscles. Therefore, if such problems exist, be sure to consult with your doctor before performing the exercises.

 Don’t forget that the neck is the most fragile part of the spine and it is necessary to work with it very carefully. Do not make intense circular movements of the neck, sharp turns or jerks of the head. Also, try not to tilt your head back much. This can be dangerous, especially for older people. There is a risk of displacement of the vertebrae, pinching of the nerve roots and exacerbation of osteochondrosis. Pressure may rise and even a stroke may occur due to clamping of large vessels in the neck.

 Despite all this, it is necessary to engage the neck regularly. Today we will learn three neck exercises developed with the help of Integrated Positional Therapy (IPT).

 The IPT is based on two main principles: (1) tension-relaxation and (2) Muscle Energy Technique (MET).

 In order to relax and lengthen the muscles, they first need to be reduced. Therefore, we first create resistance for 5-6 seconds, actively but gently squeeze the muscles isometrically (which doesn’t change their length), and then relax them. We carry out this contraction in stages, 3-5 times – which allows to gradually lengthen the muscles, remove spasms and improve the range of movements. In yoga practice, these exercises are performed simultaneously with breathing which makes them even more effective.

 So let’s start with a warm-up. Sit up straight and relax your shoulders. Position your legs shoulder-width apart, with your feet parallel to each other. This position is the starting point for all subsequent exercises. Close your eyes and very slowly start moving your neck in different directions. Fully focus your attention on the sensations in the neck and shoulders. Feel where the neck requires more, and where it moves freely. Let the neck itself show you what it needs. Our body has wisdom, and often if we don’t interfere with this wisdom it easily manifests.

 Spend 1-3 minutes on this exercise and repeat several times during the day. It would be wise to begin early in the morning soon after you begin your day.

Now we will move onto the more complex exercises. Now, each inhale and exhale should be slow and last 5-6 seconds; the pressure you apply should be soft and the stretch should be free from pain.

Exercise one: Stretching the back of the neck. Hold the back of your head with your hands. Inhale, spreading your elbows to the sides, and gently push your head into your palms and palms over your head. On the exhale, bring your elbows closer so that your hands are parallel to each other, and lower your head a little to the feeling of a slight stretching of the back side of the neck. Inhale, gently pressing your head into your hands, trying to lift it but preventing it with your hands. Exhale and lower your head a little. Repeat this 3-5 times, until you feel a pleasant stretch until you have nowhere to lower your head. Each inhale and exhale should last 5-6 seconds. Repeat the exercise 2-4 times.

Exercise two: Stretching the side of the neck. Head straight. Flip your left hand over your head, covering your temple with your palm. Inhale, gently pressing your head on the palm and the palm on the head. On the exhale, slightly tilt your head to the left shoulder until you feel a slight stretch of the left side of the neck. Inhale, gently pressing your head into your hands, trying to lift it, but preventing it with your hands. Exhale and tilt your head slightly again. Repeat the movement 2-4 times so that at the end you gently bring your head to your shoulder and feel a pleasant stretch.

Exercise three: Stretching the front of the neck. Head straight. Press your left hand to your cheek, closer to the temple. Inhale, gently pressing your head on the palm and the palm on the head. On the exhale, turn your head slightly to the right until you feel a slight stretch of the left side of the neck. Inhale, gently pressing your head into your hands, trying to turn it, but preventing it with your palm. Exhale and turn your head slightly to the right again. Repeat this 3-5 times, and on the next exhale, smoothly finish the stretch, turning your head to the right so that you feel a pleasant stretch of the left side of the neck, but free from tension and pain. Repeat the exercise another 3-5 times in the other direction.

 Do these exercises 1-2 times daily. They will help relieve spasms of the neck muscles, relax and strengthen them, and improve blood circulation, which is absolutely necessary for normal brain function.

Olga Danilevich, Certified teacher of therapeutic yoga and yoga nidra (E-RYT-500), the author of a unique teaching method Open Heart Yoga

From the Editor:
Numerous studies have found that yoga exercises for the back and neck improve brain activity and normalize sleep. Regular yoga classes will help you strengthen your spirit and develop qualities such as endurance, patience, perseverance, mindfulness, as well as increase resistance to stress, decrease or even eliminate joint pain, weight loss, and increasing body flexibility to become agile and lively. You can practice yoga anywhere and at any age. Remember this and be healthy!

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