3 Ways to Stretch and Strengthen Your Neck

Home In on the Awareness of Your Posture

NECK MOBILITY

STRETCH AND STRENGTHEN YOUR NECK

A common postural tendency or pattern for so many is slouching, which includes forward head posture due to the amount of time spent at a work desk or on a variety of digital devices. Functioning in this way may seem unavoidable due to work/life responsibilities, but welcoming in a level of awareness and actions you can take to shift this pattern will ultimately contribute to greater wellness. 

If you’re holding tension in your neck and upper back, the techniques Matt offers in today’s video will help stretch and strengthen the appropriate muscles in your neck. It also means that you’ll find more freedom of movement, which may also lead to less tension. The key component is the awareness that you’ll nurture throughout the process. There isn’t any “fix” without awareness. This part of the equation must also be implemented.

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SVADHYAYA AND AWARENESS

If you want to transform your experience, you must first be aware of your state of being. In my previous blog, Take Action in Flying Pigeon, we touched on the area of understanding the 5 Powers of Consciousness, which Matt explores further in his immersion The Power of Bliss and delves into in greater detail in his 300 Hr. Teacher Training. In Chromatic Yoga, Matt draws on the original teachings of the Yoga Sutras and beyond. He stresses that the key aspect is self-inquiry, Svadhyaya in the Yoga Sutras. This relates back to the first power in the 5 Powers of Consciousness from the Tantik perspective, which is Cit Śakti (the power of awareness itself). The power of awareness leads to the journey of Svadhyaya and therefore the discernment you need to take the right actions.

WATCH THE VIDEO

3 WAYS TO STRETCH & STRENGTHEN YOUR NECK: HONE IN ON THE AWARENESS OF YOUR NECK

TECHNIQUES FOR THE NECK

When you’re experiencing neck tension, it can be quite challenging to shift your awareness from discomfort or pain to the possibility of ease. Part of the formula to create ease is to stretch and strengthen your neck. This is important because the muscles of the neck can become shortened, weak, and tight from constant poor positioning such as forward head posture. Pulling your chin in and your head back and up, without puffing your chest out, can help to stretch the sternocleidomastoid muscle. On each side of the neck, this muscle attaches to both the sternum and the clavicle and then to the mastoid process towards the rear side of your skull.

Adding in rotation can also promote strength and flexibility in your neck. These may be “simple” actions, but it’s imperative to be aware of the execution of these techniques within a given posture.

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3 POSTURES FOR THE NECK

It can be easy to remain on autopilot in any given yoga posture, especially if you’ve executed the posture many times before. Matt outlines how to stretch and strengthen your neck in 3 “basic” yoga postures.

In Warrior II, you’ll see how Matt pulls his head up and back before initiating the next step, the rotation. When the rotation is added, along with the awareness to shorten one side and lengthen the other, what you achieve is an engagement of the sternocleidomastoid on the front side and a lengthening on the back side. What’s even more effective is the self-adjustment of pressing your head into your hand in order to get more in touch with the positioning and sensation. When exploring Pyramid Pose and High Lunge, the experience in both of these postures is changed by adding the same techniques (without the rotation). 

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MAKE THE SHIFT

If you shift your awareness within a yoga posture, you’ll transform your awareness in your everyday posture. Once you have incorporated these techniques on the mat, how many times can you incorporate them into your everyday life? This is part of Svadhyaya, the practice of self-inquiry, on the physical level. Of course Svadhyaya goes beyond this aspect only.  

Matt emphasizes that it’s not about staying in this position all the time but about training yourself to stretch and strengthen your neck muscles more often. Like anything else, these repetitive actions will stimulate the muscles to respond and ultimately make the shift to more freedom.

Register for Matt’s November immersion, The Power of Bliss, to go deeper into the awareness of your body and mind. 

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Chromatic Yoga 15-Hour Immersion

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