Yoga Sequence to Relax the Head, Neck, and Shoulders Part 1

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We move now to a second program, a yoga sequence to relax the head, neck, and shoulder areas of the body.  This sequence, of yoga movement combined with acupressure, may be used as a whole or segmentally.  Choose your method of performance, according to the time you want to spend and what part of your body you know needs work.

Yoga Sequence to Relax the Head, Neck, and Shoulder

5 Movements to Release the Head/Neck (Seated)

Forward/Back, Side to Side, Ear to Shoulder, Ear to Shoulder Chin Down, Turtle

8 Movements to Release the Shoulder (Standing):

Lifts – up/down – single, double

Rotations – forward, back – single, double

Hands to Shoulder Double rotations, Palms in 3 Different Positions

Arm Swing

Clasped Hands to Tailbone – stabilizer

Shoulder/Lower Arm Release:  Clasped Hands Movements to sacrum, to waist

Shoulder/ Upper Arm Release

Upper Arm Stabilizer, Lower Arm Stabilizer

Head/Neck/Shoulder Acupressure Routine (Standing or Seated)

Closure – you are ready to lie down for Savasana

Begin detailed Instructions for

Yoga Sequence to Relax the Head, Neck, and Shoulder

Image – showing alternate ways to perform the sequence – Seated in a Chair or in Virasana

Position – Seated in a Chair or in Virasana:

Assume a comfortable seated position for your movements to release the head and neck.  Whether you choose to sit in a chair or on the floor upon your mat, align your body so that you honor the natural curves of your back and neck.  When you use the body so that the spine is in correct alignment, with the curves neither too arched nor too flattened, you help restore muscle balance, which reduces muscle tension.

Chair Position:  Sit upon the front part of a chair, feet hip distance apart, parallel, flat upon the floor.  Keeping the pelvis level and grounded, extend the body upwards, lengthening the spine.  You are ready for your movements.

Virasana Position:  Sit upon your shin bones and feet, keeping the pelvis grounded while extending the spine upwards.  You are ready for your movements.

5 Movements to Release the Head/Neck (Seated)

Forward/Back, Side to Side, Ear to Shoulder, Ear to Shoulder Chin Down, Turtle

Forward/Back:  Image

On your inhalation, extend the crown of the head upwards so that your cervical vertebrae feel opened.

On your exhalation, allow the head to fold forward, chin down, stretching/releasing the back of your neck, softening and taking the pressure off your throat area.

As you begin again to inhale lift the chin upwards, allowing the head to fall back.

Make these movements several times – inhaling lifting, exhaling folding forward, inhale lifting, head falling back.  Move slowly, according to your own pace, observing what you feel, how you are breathing.

Once you’ve completed several repetitions, you may make the movement and hold the position for about 3 breaths.  Fold forward, hold.  Fall back, hold.  Breathe.  Remaining in the position heightens the release to the position.  When your body tells you to stop, return your head to the center for the next position.

Side to Side:  Image

Again inhale and extend through the top of the crown, creating a feeling of space in the cervical vertebrae.

On your exhalation, turn your head to the side, with your chin moving towards your shoulder.  Breathe.

On your inhalation, return your head back to the center.

Tips for Mind Body Power:  Make these movements, fluidly, slowly, enjoying the release that comes from the gentle twisting motion that your neck receives.  As you turn to the side, direct your eyes to look behind you, gazing back over your shoulder. Breathe all your cares out of your body with your exhalation.  Looking over your shoulder, seeing all dis-harmony behind you is a qigong technique you can easily apply to your yoga.

Ear to Shoulder:  Image

Move your head so that your ear falls/descends towards your shoulder.  Breathe.  Raise the head back up to the center and make this movement, ear to shoulder, stretching the other side of your neck.

Tips for Mind Body Power:  Move slowly as you allow for the stretch, Ear descending down towards the Shoulder, for when your muscles are tight, slow movement brings the greatest easing to the tension.  Remember, bulldozing/pushing tears muscles, brings injury; moving slowly, using breath, easing into a stretch brings relief.

Honor the body as we find it at the moment.  Watch it change.  This is the mindset which brings healing.  Too often the Western mindset tells us that gain goes hand in glove with pain.  Nothing… nothing is further from the truth.

Ear to Shoulder, Chin Down:  Image

From the position of Ear tilted towards the Shoulder, move your head to turn the chin diagonally from the position in the center down towards your shoulder.  The eyes look down toward the armpit chest.

When you are ready, retrace the same diagonal movement to return the chin back up to the center.

Raise the ear away from the shoulder so that the head also returns to the center.

Repeat this series of movements, to release the other side of the neck.

Tips:  Ear to Shoulder, Ear to Shoulder Chin Down, can be practiced any time.  I often am making these movements while I sip my first cup of morning tea.  I learned this sequence from Mary Schatz’s excellent material in Back Care Basics and have practiced and taught her routine ever since.

Turtle:  Image

Exhale and thrust the head forward.

Inhale bringing the head back.

Tips:  The forward/back movement in Turtle helps to correct a forward held head position.  Flat back, rounded shoulders, forward head – this alignment brings trouble.  Learning how to hold the body in proper alignment helps us to restore muscle balance, teaching us what we need to do to prevent repetitive muscle strain.

Stand to begin to release the shoulders.


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