Hello to the travelers and commuters of the World and other curious ones,
Last week we had a look at meditation and lower body stretches while on the go. Today we will move to the upper body and I’ll give you some tips on stretching the neck and shoulders.
Neck: Travelling can be a pain in the neck – literally. This is often caused by sleeping in awkward positions – leaning your head against a window, neck bent forward, shoulders going the other way – we’ve all been there. Fortunately there are some easy tricks to help with a stiff neck.
How to stretch:
Sides of the neck:
- Start by sitting upright again. Place both feet firmly on the floor.
- Drop your right ear to your right shoulder. You will feel the left side of your neck stretching.
- Gently bring your chin towards your chest. Find the point with the deepest stretch and stay there.
- You can gently place your right hand on your left ear and allow the weight of your hand to be there. Don’t pull down, let gravity do the work here.
- Close your eyes and take nice deep breaths. Stay for at least 20 seconds.
- Bring your head back up and observe both sides of your neck for a moment. See if the side you have stretched feels any different than the other side.
- Repeat on the left side.
Back of the neck:
- Keeping your back straight and feet firmly placed on the ground, allow your chin to drop towards your chest.
- Try and relax all the muscles in your neck and make sure your shoulders are relaxed.
- The distance between your chin and chest should be about the size of a tennis ball at first, then you should feel your chin coming closer as the muscles at the back of your neck soften.
Front of the neck and base of the skull:
- Again, keep your back straight and feet firmly on the ground.
- Interlock your fingers and place the hands behind your neck, making sure the pinky fingers are at the base of your skull.
- Make slow semi circles with your head, going from left to right. You should feel the pinkies massaging the base of your skull and the front of the neck lightly stretching.
Shoulders: The shoulders are a part of the body that hold a lot of tension. In moments of stress or when we are deep in thought we unconsciously tense our shoulders, raising them up to protect the ears. Body language experts say that we do this because its the body’s instinctive reaction to protect the neck, the jugular, one of our most vulnerable points. Traveling and commuting can be stressful at times when you are preparing yourself for the work day ahead or rushing to catch a train.
You can regularly check in with your shoulders and see if they are relaxed. Just feel your shoulders for a second and try to drop them back and down. You will automatically feel your chest opening here too. An open chest represents an open heart, confident and courageous.
Just try rolling your shoulders back and down observe how this makes you feel – and then roll them forward and in, closing your chest and see how you feel now. This simple experiment can show you how different you feel with different postures.
How to loosen up:
- Start by deepening the breath. Exhale fully, allowing the next inhale to be deeper. Do this for 5 breaths.
- Keeping the breaths deep, on the next inhale slowly start rolling your shoulders forward and up. With the exhale roll them back and down.
- Do this for at least 20 seconds, but as long as you need to feel your shoulders and middle back softening.
- Repeat in the other direction, inhaling back and up and exhaling forward and down.
Feel free to take a nice deep breath in and let out a big sigh ‘ahhhh’…Great! Loads of tension should be released from your body and mind.
Please let me know if these tips worked for you, or if you have any others to suggest.
If you missed it, here you can find YO-GO Part I: Lower Bits.
Would you like to know more poses you can do in a chair? Check out my post on Office Yoga – in which I offer tips and exercises you can perform while at work to de-stress and re-energise.