Many people, women especially, carry tension in their neck, jaw, and shoulders. It can become such a habit that, over time, can result in chronic aches and pains.
What can you do to alleviate neck and shoulder pain?
Let’s start with posture. I know, that is a tough one. Because you really only think about your posture when you look in a mirror, this can be difficult to fix. Use that tension as a signal. When our neck and shoulders become hot and achy, or we get that frequent headache, it is time to readjust. Strengthening your tummy muscles is one way to create better alignment. Another is to look at how you work. If you work at a computer most days, check to make sure your setup is ergonomically correct.
Simple yoga poses can help a lot with posture and alignment concerns.
While I am certainly no yoga expert, I do love the way it feels and have been experimenting with it in alleviating my aches and pains. Here are four I have been doing daily (at least once!) that have been making my aching neck and shoulders feel a lot better. They also help to improve your posture. Yay!
First is a simple Standing Forward Bend. Not so flexible? Don’t worry about that. Go as far as you can, comfortably, and feel the stretch in your spine. I also find that breathing into the areas that hurt when I stretch seems to make the ache vanish.
Next I do a good ol’ Bridge Pose. I like this one because it is a good stretch for the neck and shoulders, but also helps to tone the butt and back of thighs. Not a bad thing.
After Bridge I move into Plow Pose. Ok, this one used to seem way too scary to me because it felt like it was too much for my neck. But recently I talked with a yogini friend of mine who told me that your toes do not have to touch the floor for this pose to be effective. The point of Plow, she said, is to bring your shoulders and neck into proper alignment. So put a chair behind you to rest your toes on if you are not feeling the full on floor touch.
Then, Shoulder Stand. This pose is not only good for stiff neck and shoulders, but great for circulation. Especially if you have trouble with varicose veins. Remember: if you have your period, do a simple legs-up-the-wall instead.
Add these poses to your routine to relieve that pain in your neck. Have other neck and shoulder ache relievers? Let us know in the comments below.
[Image by Relaxing Music at Flickr.com, cc]