Become friends with your neck
The neck is a very important part of our body. It connects our torso with the head. A lot of vitally important channels such as circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory, nervous, and endocrine run through it.
The neck is the start of the spinal column and spinal cord. Normally, the spinal column contains two dozen interconnected articulating vertebrae, and nine fused vertebrae in the sacrum and the coccyx. The neck contains seven of these, known as the cervical vertebrae. They are the smallest vertebrae in the body and are typically referred to as C-1 to C-7. Cartilaginous discs separate the vertebrae from each other. The neck holds the weight of the head as a column, houses and protects the spinal cord (the nerves that carry sensory and motor information from the brain down to the rest of the body). Due to its structure the neck is highly flexible and allows the head to turn and flex in all directions.
To avoid injuries and neck pain, it is very important to strengthen muscles of your neck so that they work together creating a strong structure and maintain proper function. The muscles of neck hold the head upright and provide its movement, as well as contribute to the maintenance of blood flow to the brain. Stress and excessive tension make this part of our body stiff. Most neck pain relief can be achieved through application of heat or ice, reduced physical activity, stretching the aching area through slow range of motion exercises, and massage. Over the counter pain relievers can help temporarily but exercising your neck goes a much longer way. So how to keep the neck healthy and happy?
Spread the following simple exercises throughout your day:
- Draw big figures 8 with your nose in both directions.
- Draw big infinity signs with your nose in both directions.
- Draw capital letters of the alphabet with your nose.
Attention: all of these should be performed until the feeling of fatigue occurs, spread them out instead of doing all together. Please, don’t attempt to power through. Listen into your neck. If you experience any pain stop, get some rest and try another exercise. Be patient, it took you your entire life to get there where you are at the moment and undoing it will take some time. Acknowledge the slightest success and be happy for it, don’t be shy to express gratitude towards yourself! discontent is the biggest pitfall on your path to health.
Here is another short but effective sequence for your neck from Mirzakarim Norbekov. If you do it regularly you will be happy with the results:
- Bring your chin into the chest and start sliding it down towards the navel. Alternate pleasant pressure and light relaxation about 10 times. Listen into the stretch in the back of your neck. Note: if it is hard for you to perform this exercise substitute it with stretching your head and neck forward.
- Face up and start reaching with your chin towards the ceiling. Switch up tension with light relaxation. Listen into the stretch in the front of your neck.
- Drop your right ear to your right shoulder. Alternate pressure and relaxation. Listen into the stretch in the left side of your neck. Switch sides.
- Hold your nose steady as a pivoting point. Bring your chin up and the crown of your head down. Keep alternating tension and relaxation. Switch sides.
- Drop your chin to the chest and do the same action as in previous exercise: chin goes up and the crown of your head down. Hold your nose steady. Switch sides
- Face the ceiling and repeat the action from the previous two exercises: chin up and the crown of the head down.
- Twist for the cervical spine: first bring your gaze as far to the left as possible (this way you train the optical nerve), then bring your chin to the left shoulder. Alternate pressure and relaxation trying to twist a little further each time. Switch sides
- Now we will bring all the exercises from this sequence together: start rolling your head in big smooth circles. Follow the stretch in your neck with your inner awareness. Note: if you have any neck injury you will perform only half-circle without bringing your head back: roll your head from your left shoulder to the right one.
Ultimately, any exercises you do with awareness can be called yoga since yoga means union (of body and mind).
Now you have the tools to keep your neck healthy and it’s in your hands to work just a little bit every day. Good luck!