Often, I structure my yoga classes around a theme. It could be a concept like ‘going with the flow’, or a particular pose like crow or a section of the body like the core or a family of asanas like inversions. This week I’m talking about the cervical spine/neck and relieving neck tension.
I was surprised to learn that our heads weigh around 12 to 15 pounds. That seems really heavy to me. Way heavier than any bowling ball I’ve ever used. If our head is perfectly lined up and balanced on our spine, it’s all good. But shift the head forward a few inches and we start to strain the supporting muscles.
I don’t know about you, but here I am sitting at this computer and I naturally want to lean my head forward. I do that when I look at my phone (which is way more often than is necessary, I know); when I drive and when I cook. Basically, I catch myself leaning my head forward nearly all day long.
In doing research for this class, I learned so many interesting things. For one, it’s best to try to avoid sleeping on your stomach because of the strain it causes in your neck. Also, talking on the phone with it resting between your ear and shoulder is really tough on the neck. Poor posture can also cause strain, so it’s helpful to build the shoulder and upper back muscles to help you stand tall.
In my class, we worked on several neck specific stretches. When you are in your classes you can always remind yourself to release your neck and let your head hang when you are in forward fold and downward facing dog. Also, allow your head to float back whenever your are upright in poses like mountain. And in a posture like triangle decide if it feels better for you to look up or down or alternate between the two.
I came across this little do-it-yourself idea that is perfect for this week. Take an old sock and fill it with rice. Add some cinnamon sticks and cloves. Tie it off. And you have a neck roll that can be heated in the microwave and feels great. Super easy and it smells good too. Instead of the spices, you could always add lavender instead.
Spicy Neck Roll
1 old thick sock
White or brown rice
2 cinnamon sticks
1 Tbsp whole cloves
Fill sock 3/4 full with rice. Add cinnamon and cloves. Tie tightly with ribbon. Microwave 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Place roll around neck and say ahhhhhhh.