Lifting head with both hands

Yoga for your neck and hunch back

Do you know why people get hunch back as they get older? It is because they don’t do yoga!

We are offering you a free tip of how to keep your spine straight and flexible.  

Below is a basic neck release which we include in all our classes. We recommend practising this on a daily basis to prevent rounding of the spine. This is also wonderful for alleviating neck and upper back pain.

  • Rest on your back in Semi-supine with your feet flat on the floor, quite wide apart. Interlace the hands behind the back of your head. Take a breath in, and as you breathe out, lift the head to look down the midline of the body. Inhale and rest the head back down. Do that a few times. See if you can lift a bit further each time (only if it doesn’t cause any tension or pain). Notice what lifting the head does to the lower spine and consciously press the lower back into the floor each time you lift the head.

Lifting head with both handsYoga to prevent rounded back to release neck painYoga to prevent rounded back to release neck pain

  • Instead of going through the midline, next time you lift your head, go more towards one knee than the other. Rest the head down as you inhale and then exhale and lift the head towards the other knee. Alternate sides a few times. Only go as far as you comfortably can. Feel the stretch at the back of the neck, and how it also stretches in between the shoulder blades.

Lifting head to sides

 

Benefits:

  • Realigns the cervical (neck) vertebrae. 
  • Strengthens the neck.
  • The whole nervous system and all the meridians pass through the neck, so to release it is to stimulate the whole nervous system.
  • Flattens the curve in the upper back (in between the shoulder blades), which gets exaggerated as we age and creates a rounded shoulder appearance. In extreme cases it would be called a hunch back. When practised regularly, lifting the head with both hands helps to keep the spine straight.

Yoga at your Computer

Do you spend a lot of time in front of the computer? If you reading this, the answer is most likely to be yes. And whether you are aware of it or not, you are, most likely, to have tight neck and shoulders. (We all do, to some extent, due to the fact that the neck, while being the most fragile part of the spine, has to support the weight of the head.)

Try this shoulder and neck release right now, in front of your computer and be amazed at how good it feels! It only takes 4 minutes to change your body.

 

Psoas tightness release

Feeling stressed? Release your psoas.

A lot of lower back and knee problems are affected by tight psoas muscle. Psoas is a muscle deep in the abdomen which runs from the lumbar vertebrae and attaches onto each thigh bone. It works to lift the legs and rotate the thigh.

 Psoas muscle is connected to the adrenal glands and it is the first muscle to tighten when we become stressed. It is intimately involved in the fight or flight response. A chronically tightened psoas continually signals your body that you are in danger, eventually exhausting the adrenal glands and depleting the immune system.

 This simple exercise helps to release tight psoas.

 Psoas tightness release

Come to raised kneeling (vajrasana) position on the floor. Bring your right knee forward, so that the right foot is flat on the floor and the knee is bent at the right angle. Tuck your tail bone under, get straight through the spine. Bring your focus of attention to the left knee and get a sense of ‘dragging’ it forward, without actually moving it. You should feel some tension on the front of your pelvis, on the front of the left thigh. Hold that tension, as you breathe, for up to a minute. (Make sure that you do not lunge onto the knee – everything should be at the right angle). Swap sides.

Marjariasana

Cat and Cow – one yoga move you should do every day

Marjariasana (Upward and Downward Cat) is a great practice to do on a daily basis (morning and/or evening). Do you know that Cat and Cow works with every muscle, every organ, works with the central highway for the central nervous system – the spinal cord? If you don’t do any yoga, practising just this regularly will help increase your flexibility dramatically. 

  • Preparation: Come onto all fours. If you need to support your wrists, you can come to the edge of your mat or even roll the mat under your wrists. Have your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Before you start the movement, spread your fingers wide feeling your weight distributed evenly onto the entire palm of the hand. Press your fingers into the floor and towards the knees. Feel the pressure in your arms and in the shoulder blades.Marjariasana
  • Upward Cat: Let your breath initiate the movement and let your eyes guide you. As you inhale, lift your head and tail bone up towards the ceiling. Arch the back and press your fingers into the floor. Let your breath do the movement. 
  • Downward Cat (Cow): Wait for the breath to come out and as you exhale, tuck the chin in, let your eyes look at your nose a
    nd then down towards the navel, round the back, lift the shoulders towards the ceiling (as if someone had their hands in between your shoulder blades and you are pushing up against their hands), pull your tummy in and press the hills of the palms into the floor. Do it a few times, bending the spine in one direction as far as possible and in the opposite direction and paying attention to your bMarjariasanareath. Check that your hips do not move through space – it is just a movement of the spine. Once you have the mechanics of this worked out, it’s really useful to speed it up.

 Benefits:

  • Upward and Downward Cat stretches, stimulates and aligns the whole spine, improving flexibility.
  • It also helps to circulate the spinal fluid. Because the spine is the main pathway for the central nervous system, it works on every nerve in the body.
  • Improves the flexibility of the neck and shoulders.
  • Strengthens the lower back and abdomen.
  • Stimulates the optic nerve, making the eyes sparkle.
  • Balances the hormonal system (and thus the emotions), working particularly with the thyroid gland, pancreas and ovaries.
  • Because of its effect on the female reproductive system, it is very good for menstrual disorders and cramps.
  • It is a great posture to do when pregnant, although tightening or stretching of the abdomen should be avoided.