by Kris Fondran
Work can quite literally be a pain in the neck. For that matter, so can the daily hassles of life.
Events, stresses, and tensions — even the “good” tensions when you’re working on something you like and having fun — can embed in your body, where they surface as raised shoulders, clenched jaws, and a forward-braced posture.
Leave it that way without releasing it and the tension piles up. Before long you’ve got neckaches, backaches, headaches, and you’re tired and grouchy all the time.
[Ryan: ...please note, this is different from MY normal grouchy recluse state... I’m grouchy because I choose to be, but I’m quite relaxed about it...]
So what’s a working drone to do?
Rise up! Flip your desk! Shake your fist at the CCTV cameras and hurl that coffee mug at the copy machine! It won’t reduce your tension, but you WILL go out in a blaze of glory.
Or…. you could do this simple release from our resident Shapeshifter Yoga expert Kristine Fondran.
It only takes a minute. You can do it at your desk. It’ll improve your energy levels, and it may even reduce pain, discomfort or stiffness.
So what are you waiting for?
Bring a little yoga into your work day!
Neck Movement with Breath Awareness
Do this anytime you feel stress accumulating in your neck or shoulders.
- Close your eyes and place your hands on your knees. Take a gentle breath in, allowing your chest to lift and expand and your spine to fully straighten. On the exhalation, relax down through your shoulders and arms, but continue to keep your chest lifted and spine straight. Become aware of your natural breath. Mentally repeat, “I am breathing in, I am breathing out.” Take a few breaths like this with full awareness.
- On your next exhalation, drop your chin. On the next inhalation, begin to slowly rotate your head in a circle, continuing to relax your shoulders and taking care not to move your head too far back. At the half-way point, when your chin is lifted, exhale, complete the circle, and lowering your chin back to the starting position. Continue to remain aware of the breath, synchronizing it with your head movement. Repeat 5 times in each direction.
- When you’ve completed your circles, remain aware of the breath and notice how your neck and shoulders now feel.
- With full awareness of each and every breath, begin counting your breaths backwards from 15 to 1.
- Open your eyes and release the position.
You should now feel awake, energized, and free of tension. And you’ll be able to approach your work with a calm, focused mind.
Why does this simple trick work so well?
All the major nerves that connect the organs and limbs of your body run through your neck. It’s easy for tension to accumulate there, especially when sitting for long periods of time in front of a computer or while driving.
This simple movement helps release this tension by gently stretching the muscles of the neck and shoulders.
The added breath awareness will also reduce tension because it brings you into the present moment, drawing your mind away from the cares and worries that usually occupy your thoughts. When you follow your breath with awareness, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure and immediately reducing stress levels.
Give this a try today, and let us know how you did in the comments below.