Downward Dog: Release Neck Tension
The first thing you need to do when performing any yoga pose is release tension in your neck. If you are not aware of how to do it, then it means that you have been practicing incorrectly. A good way to begin releasing tension in your neck is with the hands, but if this doesn’t seem comfortable or effective enough, then try doing it with your feet.
If you are using your hands, then you will want to hold them just above your head and extend your arms straight out behind you. You may feel like there is something holding onto the back of your neck, but don’t worry; this isn’t going to hurt anything! Just keep extending the arm and letting go of the neck.
Once again, let go slowly until all tension is released from the area.
Once you have released the tension in your neck, you can move on to other areas of your body. For example, if you are experiencing neck pain while lying down, then you could use the same technique to relieve yourself of this discomfort. Simply lie down on your stomach and place one hand against the floor so that it rests against your lower abdomen.
Then extend both arms straight up towards the ceiling and bring them together over your head before bringing them back down towards the ground.
If you are a little more flexible, you can also try bringing your hands up to the sides of your head so that your ear lobes each rest in the palms of your hands. While you may not be able to use this method if you have long hair, it should still give you an idea of how to correctly relieve tension in your neck.
If you are having trouble releasing the tension, you can also try placing your hands behind your back and interlocking your fingers. From here, you can extend both arms out behind you and allow the back of your head to really rest in the palms of your hands. You should only use this method if you feel comfortable doing so, however.
If using your hands to release neck tension doesn’t seem to be helping, then you can try using your feet for the same purpose. This is a great pose to do after practicing others such as downward facing dog and it is an absolute must if you are experiencing any pain while performing these exercises.
Begin in downward facing dog or any other similar position and slowly walk your feet in towards your body until they are flat against the floor. At this point, you can either let your legs fall open or keep them together. Whichever feels more comfortable for you is the correct choice to make.
Once you are ready, slowly lower your chest towards the ground and then put all of your weight onto your feet. Instead of bending your knees, you will remain in a semi-squatting position and place the back of your head against the palms of your hands. You can either interlock your fingers or keep them separate depending on your comfort level.
If you have long hair, it is a good idea to put it in a ponytail so that it doesn’t get caught underneath you and your head. If this still doesn’t feel quite right, you can also place a pillow beneath your neck so that the top of your head is completely flat against the floor.
Once you feel the tension starting to release, you can either remain in the pose for a short time or stay here until your muscles begin to cramp up. It is important to do whatever feels right for your body because there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to yoga!
If you are having trouble releasing tension from any other part of your body, all you have to do is imagine that your breath is flowing into that area and releasing any built up tension. Pretty soon you will be relaxed and feeling great.
These exercises can be done anywhere at anytime. If you are ever feeling stressed out or in pain, just sit back, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths to relieve yourself of any discomfort. These poses can also be practiced while you are watching television or even when you first wake up in the morning so that you feel refreshed and energized all day long!
Mindful Yoga Stories
A lot of people have asked me if yoga can help them lose weight or if it will improve their flexibility. While yoga can absolutely help you achieve both of these things, in my experience, the biggest benefit of yoga is how it improves your mood and helps to keep you calm and stress-free.
I’ve included a few stories from the book below that best represent this idea. I hope you enjoy them and I hope they inspire you to give yoga a try if you haven’t already!
Yoga and the Perfect Morning
People always seem to talk about those perfect mornings. You know, the ones where everything goes right. You wake up feeling well rested and refreshed.
The sun is out, but it isn’t too hot yet so you can enjoy being outside. As you go through your morning routine, everything feels perfect.
Of course, these perfect mornings don’t happen too often. I can only recall a few in my life and even then they typically aren’t as perfect as I initially thought. Of course, the best thing about a perfect morning is that it puts you in a perfect mood for the rest of the day!
I had one of those perfect mornings just recently and it was all thanks to yoga that it turned out so well! I woke up early, but didn’t have to rush through my morning routine since I hadn’t slept past the time I had set my alarm for. Once I was up and about, I felt relaxed and wasn’t feeling tired like I do on most mornings.
Of course, I credit this all to my yoga routine. If I didn’t do it, I probably would have slept in and missed my morning classes! Even though I don’t always have the time to practice, I always feel so much better afterwards.
It’s like a burst of positive energy was injected into my body and mind after each class!
Of course, the best part about the whole morning was that it stayed nice and sunny until about noon. This wasn’t supposed to be the case as the weatherman had predicted cloudy skies with a slight chance of rain later in the day. Of course, I’m not sure why they even bother predicting the weather.
Everything in this town seems to always do the opposite of what they say!
I was able to enjoy being outside all morning and didn’t have to worry about carrying an umbrella around with me. I took a walk through the park that I pass on my way to school and even saw a couple of girls playing on the swings having a pillow fight while they were on the swings.
I stopped for a moment to watch them. They didn’t notice me since they were pretty focused on hitting each other with their pillows. They looked so carefree and happy that I had to smile.
I sat down at a nearby bench and just watched them play for a few minutes before walking to the park exit.
It was at that moment that it started to rain. At first, it was just a few drops here and there. I looked up at the sky and saw the few clouds that were in the sky were moving away and more sunshine was peeking through.
The rain didn’t look like it was going to last too long so I decided to just continue on my walk instead of going back home.
I was walking close to the park exit when I felt a sudden drop in temperature. It got so cold all of a sudden that I could even see little puffs of breath escaping from my mouth! It was so cold that it even started to rain harder.
I looked up and saw that the few clouds that were moving away earlier were now starting to move back in. They weren’t the only ones either. Darker and ominous looking clouds began moving in from all sides. The park exit was still pretty far away and I was starting to wonder if I would make it there before the rain really got going since it was coming down pretty hard at this point.
I picked up the pace a little, but then I started to feel a strange feeling. It felt kind of like rubber bands were wrapped around my legs and the bands were being pulled in opposite directions with each step I took. It felt really off balance and I started to lose my footing a bit since the rain made the ground pretty slippery.
I looked up at the sky again and this time, I made note that all the clouds were moving towards the park.
Sources & references used in this article:
Rehabilitation of pelvic floor muscles utilizing trunk stabilization by R Sapsford – Manual therapy, 2004 – Elsevier
Case Studies of Yoga Therapy with Focused Downward Release and Scapular Stabilization in Shoulder Injuries by N DeAvilla – International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 2007 – meridian.allenpress.com
Influence of the thyroid state on left ventricular tension-velocity relations in the intact, sedated dog by RR Taylor, JW Covell, J Ross – The Journal of clinical …, 1969 – Am Soc Clin Investig
“I’m more in balance”: a qualitative study of yoga for patients with chronic neck pain by H Cramer, R Lauche, H Haller, J Langhorst… – The Journal of …, 2013 – liebertpub.com
A RHEOLOGICAL APPROACH TO THE ARCHTECTURE OF ARTERIAL WALLS by T Azuma, M HASEGAWA – The Japanese journal of physiology, 1971 – jstage.jst.go.jp
The release of histamine by isolated smooth muscles by N Ambache, GS Barsoum – The Journal of physiology, 1939 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
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Introduction to office yoga by EL Bockman, RM Berne… – American Journal of …, 1976 – journals.physiology.org
Tension receptors in the stomach and the urinary bladder by L Wingate – 2016 – sunandmoonstudio.com