Neck stretches are a fantastic way to ease the tension and stress that builds in the neck, face, and jaw. This loosens the muscles and prepares the body for a relaxing and rejuvenating session. This warm-up is best practiced in a seated position. Below you will see picture examples of some of the seated postures that you can use from easiest to hardest. Starting on the left, you have Easy Pose (or Crossed-legged Pose), then Bound Angle (or Fixed Angle Pose), and then Half Lotus. The position you or your student use will depend on the flexibility in the thighs, calf muscles, knees, and/or ankles. Props can and should be used to make this position comfortable so that there is the least amount of discomfort.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most common pose used for this warm-up however is Easy Pose (or Crossed-legged Pose) with the use of blocks or blankets under the knees. This is because this asana is great for calming and rejuvenating the mind. Pictures of this asana are provided in your “RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR LIFE” textbook. You can also find more information on this asana in your “YOGA: THE PATH TO HOLISTIC HEALTH.” You will find it in CHAPTER 5: YOGA FOR STRESS under Asanas for Stress by the Sanskrit name Swastikasana.

Caution: Although this warm-up is fantastic for reducing tension, it can be harmful if practiced incorrectly. Aggressive neck rolling or hyperextension of the neck can impede blood circulation to the brain which can cause a lack of oxygen to the brain, dizziness, and sometimes temporary loss of consciousness. It can also affect the nerve pathways in the back of your neck by pinching the nerve, which can result in pain down the arms, numbness, or even weakness. This can happen to anyone but it most common with students in their mid-thirties and older. Because of this, we caution advising students to hang their heads back in a hyperextension of the next. Avoid neck rolls with the head tilted back.

Your textbook describes how to safely practice neck stretches, without extending your neck back. However, if you would like to safely practice this warm-up with a slight extension back to open the throat, below is an example of how to do so.

Once in a comfortable seated position, lengthen your back. On an inhale, slowly drop the head forward towards your chest. Exhale as you slowly bring the head back to center and then, slowly and slightly, tilt the head back to open the throat (Do not roll in this position). Inhale and come back to center. Continue to breath as you inhale again and drop your head forward to your chest. Slightly tilt your head to the right for a couple of breaths and then come back to center. Do the same to the left. On an exhale come back to center and lift your head, being sure to align your neck and spine. Repeat this for a couple of cycles (typically 2-3 times).

As explained in your textbook “RESTORATIVE YOGA FOR LIFE,” there is a chakra that is benefited by this warm-up. The dosha balance is also affected. See below for a simple breakdown.

Chakra
Chakra Five:Throat, Visuddha, Vissudha, Vishuddhi, or Vishuddha (purification) Chakra. This is the communications and sympathetic vibrations chakra. Its goals are clear communication, creativity, and resonance. Its location is the throat.

Doshas
VataThis dosha is increased in this asana.
PittaThis dosha is increased in this asana.
KaphaThis dosha is decreased in this asana.

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