Spinal pain is a major public health problem, and living with pain is never easy. It’s so commonplace that sometimes neck and shoulder pains may seem like an inevitable part of humanness. Fortunately, most of this tension can be released through understanding of the anatomy, and by practicing a few stretches.
INTENTION – a thing intended; an aim or plan
1. Bring Awareness to the factors that precede the neck and shoulder tension. Monitor yourself
and try to observe what situations occur that precede neck and shoulder discomfort.
– Immobility from too much sitting? Interrupt every 60 – 90 minutes and move
– Ergonomic factors like looking down at a screen too long? Try raising the screen to eye level
– Emotional factors? Most of us tighten the muscles at the back of the neck when we’re anxious, angry or frustrated. Learn strategies to let go of these negative emotions, taking deep belly breaths and problem solving for the factors affecting you.
- Move Sequences: there is a reason why people say, “the weight of the world on my shoulders”. A
stiff neck or sore shoulders can inhibit you from performing at your best each day.
- Side Stretch: With feet apart, stretch both arms to the ceiling and take turns pulling one arm gently to the side at a time. Grab by the wrists.
- Ear-to-Shoulder: Gently drop the ear to the shoulder at each side, stay 6 -10 breaths on each.
Chin-to-Chest: Pull the chin into the chest and allow the rise and fall of your chest to lift and
drop your jaw slowly. After five or six breaths, add a slow side-to-side movement, with your jaw
moving towards your armpits.
KNOWLEDGE – facts and skills acquired through experience/education, understanding theories.
- Common Cues Heard in a Yoga Class are to gradually bring awareness to areas of bad posture, to counteract what the body has conformed to. During your yoga practice use these cues to remember, they keep your neck/ shoulders safe.
- Create space + length means it should feel like there’s action and lengthening in the muscles/
tendons, not bunching up and shortening.
- Release shoulders down your back means pulling gently away from your ears, also avoid overworking them to keep the focus on lengthening and strengthening.
- Stack your head above shoulders means pulling your chin above your sternum, not above your feet.
- You can prevent injuries as long as you take caution and perform the exercises in moderation,
and according to your strength and flexibility level. The rewards of basic yoga far outweigh the
potential physical risks, however injuries have been noted parallel to the increased popularity
of yoga, and the usual causes are: poor technique and/or alignment, previous injury or condition,
excess effort, inadequate or proper instruction from teachers. They are all interrelated, and
addressing any one will often be a gateway to the others.
CULTURE – ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society
- Posturing is a behaviour that is intended to impress or mislead. I always question the
perfection in the carefully constructed imagery I see with people (and myself), especially online.
There seems to be one style/one look that is taking over. At the core, yoga celebrates our individuality. Take time and connect to what individuality really means to you. The ego that surrounds you when your flexibility/strength is complimented, notice if you feel the need to conform, are you trying to fit a mould? Turn that attention inward and be reminded that you are unique and no one else can be you. Find your own thing.
Sandra Patrick teaches integrated movement with yoga, and mindful breathing techniques to
relax or meditate. She’s a certified yoga teacher and wellness coach behind Yoga Club Lagos; she
provides experiences rooted in yoga tradition, sharing theories to learn, experiment and grow with each other.
The right teaching can make a difference between loving and hating Yoga classes. There are so many benefits from a consistent practice, and I’m excited to keep sharing them with you every month. I’ll keep inspiring you to live a healthy balanced life with no hype, just down to earth, well researched content.
Keep an open mind and I promise to encourage a mindful practice, find me on Instagram @onhermat