NECK MOVEMENTS

All the nerves connecting the different organs and limbs of the body pass through the neck. Therefore, the muscles of the neck and shoulders accumulate tension, especially after prolonged work at a desk. These techniques release tension, heaviness and stiffness in the head, neck and shoulder region.

These four neck movements should not be performed by elderly people and those suffering from low blood pressure, high blood pressure, vertigo or extreme cervical spondylosis. Expert advice should be sought for any of these problems. Cervical spondylosis patients should strictly avoid forward bending of the neck.

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STAGE 1
UP & DOWN

Sit in a cross-legged pose with the hands resting on the knees. With the hands up or down, bring the index finger and thumb to touch. Close the eyes. Slowly move the head forward and try to touch the chin to the chest. Move the head as far back as is comfortable. Do not strain. Feel the stretch of the muscles in the front and back of the neck, and the loosening of the vertebrae in the neck. Practise 10 times.

BREATHING Inhale on the backward movement. Exhale on the forward movement.
AWARENESS On the movement and the breath.

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STAGE 2
SIDE TO SIDE

Remain in the same position, keeping the eyes closed. Face directly forward. Relax the shoulders. Slowly move the head to the right, bringing the right ear close to the right shoulder without raising the shoulders. Move the head to the left side and bring the left ear close to the left shoulder. Do not strain; touching the shoulder is not necessary. This is one round. Practise 10 rounds.

BREATHING Inhale on the upward movement. Exhale on the downward movement.
AWARENESS On the stretching sensation of the muscles in the sides of the neck, and the breath.

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STAGE 3
LEFT & RIGHT

Remain in the same sitting position. Keep the head upright and the eyes closed. Gently turn the head to the right so that the chin is in line with the right shoulder. Feel the release of tension in the neck muscles and the loosening of the neck joints. Slowly turn the head to the left as far as is comfortable. Do not strain. Practise 10 times on each side.

BREATHING Inhale while turning to the front. Exhale while turning to the side.
AWARENESS On the stretching sensation of the muscles in the sides of the neck, and the breath.

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STAGE 4
ROTATION

Remain in the same position with the eyes closed. Slowly rotate the head downward, to the right, backward and then to the left side in a relaxed, smooth, rhythmic, circular movement. Feel the shifting stretch around the neck and the loosening up of the joints and muscles of the neck. Practise 10 times clockwise and then 10 times anti-clockwise. Do not strain. If dizziness occurs, open the eyes and discontinue the practice for that day.

BREATHING Inhale as the head moves up. Exhale as the head moves down.
AWARENESS On the movement and the breath.

After the practice, keep the neck straight and the eyes closed. Be aware of the sensations in the head and neck.

Text: Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha
Swami Satyananada Saraswati
Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India
Illustrations: Elly-Lynne Tiburcio