Improve neck mobility and release neck tension with these yoga poses from Benjamin Sears
Is the tightness in your neck affecting your yoga practice? In this short video, yoga teacher Benjamin Sears teaches simple, yet powerful exercises for neck mobility and neuromuscular awareness. He also delves into how to adjust a popular posture, Downward Facing Dog, to take the pressure out of your neck.
See also 10 Sequences For Tight Neck and Shoulders
Want to practice in person with Benjamin Sears? Sign up for his next Sacred Geometry Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training in Dallas, March 28 – April 12, 2019. Early bird registration available now—Apply today!
Slept On Your Neck Funny? These 6 Stretches Will Soothe Your Pain By Noon
Before you book that massage or get stuck in unhelpful thought patterns about your neck pain, try one or more of these yoga poses and stretches.
Whether you woke up with tension in your neck or you often have low-grade pain because you spend so much time hunched over your phone or laptop (hello, tech neck!), you know that neck strain can be terrible. What’s worse, it can also lead to poor posture, irritability, and even migraine headaches.
If you’re dealing with neck pain, it’s important not to do anything to make it worse. Avoid deep stretches, says Tiffany Cruikshank, an acupuncturist, yoga teacher, and founder of Yoga Medicine®. And if the muscldes in your neck are in spasm, Cruikshank recommends taking an epsom salt bath to help calm the inflammation.
See also 6 Stretches to Do at Work
When you’re ready for some gentle stretching, try this sequence created by Yoga Medicine® therapeutic specialist Diane Malaspina, Ph.D. Grab a foam roller, block, and strap and practice one or all of the following yoga poses designed to ease neck pain—fast.
Yoga for Neck Pain: A Home Practice
About the Author
Bridget “Bee” Creel is the editorial producer for Yoga Journal. She works as a yoga teacher in NYC and is the co-founder of the wellness community, Mood Room.
Are You Hypermobile? This Sequence Will Help You Build Awareness and Avoid Injury
Grab a resistance band and challenge your strength—rather than exploit your flexibility.
Ask anyone who doesn’t practice yoga why they don’t give it a try and odds are you’ll hear some version of this: “I can’t do yoga because I can’t even touch my toes.” While yogis and yoga teachers can offer a host of reasons why a lack of flexibility actually puts someone at an advantage in yoga, it’s easy to see how the perception that yogis have to be bendy is so prevalent: Yoga often attracts hypermobile students. After all, hypermobile bodies naturally move into and out of the large ranges of motion many yoga postures demand.
However, most yoga teachers agree that hypermobile yogis actually have it way worse than those who have a hard time touching their toes, because all that flexibility tends to inspire hypermobile yogis to exploit their joints’ natural looseness, which almost always leads to injury and pain.
See also Inside My Injury: How I Ended Up With a Total Hip Replacement at Age 45
Extending knees and elbows past straight, effortlessly sliding into splits, pancaking the torso on the floor in Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend)—these all can be signs of hypermobility in a yoga practice. Yet instead of thinking hypermobility is “bad” for a yoga practice—or that yoga is bad for hypermobile practitioners—consider these strategies to add strength and stability to an asana practice if you deal with hypermobility:
- Pull back from end range: Muscles have better leverage and can exert more tension to stabilize joints when joints are positioned at mid-range.
- Slow down: Moving more slowly gives the brain time to recruit more muscle fibers for increased muscle tension. This maximizes stability.
- Look for external feedback: Because hypermobility can impair a student’s sense of their body in space, props and equipment can provide information about the real position and range of their joints (compared to what they may feel).
Resistance bands can effectively facilitate all of these strategies. Practitioners can actively work with and against external tension from the bands, and can even enjoy a feeling of “being held together better.” Perhaps most usefully, resistance bands act as brakes to slow down movement and limit range of motion in a way that hypermobile soft tissue sometimes can’t. Hypermobile students then learn to challenge their strength rather than exploit their flexibility.
Home Practice: Yoga with Resistance Bands for Hypermobility
Here is a Yoga with Resistance Bands sequence that builds toward Tree Pose. The resistance bands used in the sequence include two 5-foot long moderate-level resistance bands with small loops tied into each end, and one small, looped band of moderate resistance.
About the Author
Laurel Beversdorf, B.F.A, E-RYT 500, is the creator of Yoga with Resistance Bands Classes and Body of Knowledge Anatomy and Biomechanics workshops. A Yoga Tune Up® trainer and senior teacher and teacher trainer for YogaWorks, Laurel regularly presents trainings and workshops at locations like Kripalu, YogaWorks, and studios across the world. Learn more at laurelbeversdorf.com
Daylight Savings Is Here. This TCM-Inspired Sequence Will Help You Adjust to the Shorter Days With Ease
When the clocks go back an hour, there’s a good chance fatigue, fogginess, and restless energy in the evenings will set in. Here’s a flow to help your body find a new rhythm.
When we “fall back” an hour for daylight savings time, it can be tempting to think of the time change as a boon. After all, we gain an extra hour of sleep! However, it’s important to recognize that the time change can actually be really disorienting. Whether you’re a night owl or morning person, there’s a chance daylight savings time may prompt you to experience symptoms such as fogginess, fatigue, restless energy in the evenings, disrupted sleep, and irritability. The good news? You can use your yoga practice to help adjust your body’s rhythm and ease the transition.
Daylight Savings and Yoga: A TCM Perspective
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are 12 organ systems and each organ’s energy is what we call “active” for a 2-hour period, which gives a 24-hour clock, or cycle of energy, throughout the body.
The TCM perspective for proper bedtime is somewhere before 11 p.m., so that the liver and gallbladder energy is not disrupted. The liver and gallbladder are active from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., and they are the Judge and General of the body and mind: The liver allows for planning and strategizing, while the gallbladder makes decisions and clear judgements. If you’re up during this time, you might impede these attributes within yourself.
When daylight savings time rolls around, a 10 p.m. bedtime is really an 11 p.m. bedtime, prior to the switch. So, to help our bodies adjust to this new “clock,” we will focus on yoga poses that move the energy of the liver and gallbladder channels, calm our minds, and clear any stress from our day. A stimulation of the kidneys through compression, in our last pose, will also assist the secondary system of circadian rhythm management: the adrenals. (Note, while TCM does not recognize the adrenals, we incorporate the adrenals with the kidneys in the modern view of TCM).
See also 5 Poses That Introduce Traditional Chinese Medicine to Your Practice
Before You Begin
I recommended you do this sequence two hours before your preferred bedtime (as this would correlate to an hour before your bedtime, previous to the time change). This will allow for a smoother transition in your body and mind.
Make sure the room is brightly lit, which communicates to the pineal gland to delay the secretion of melatonin and decrease sleepiness. You will need a blanket, block, and wall space.
TCM-Inspired Yoga for Daylight Savings
About the Author
Teresa Biggs, AP, DOM is a board-certified Doctor of Oriental Medicine and Yoga Medicine Instructor and founder of Biggs Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Naples, Florida. You can find her at the upcoming Women’s Health Immersion for Yoga Medicine. Learn more at biggsacupuncture.com.
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