Today's tip comes from Gabrielle at Hot Yoga Doctor:
What do you do if you have a neck ache that prevents you from doing Pranayama to start with? Sitting out is an option but (besides being awkward and annoying) what if I were to give you a technique to fix your neck DURING Pranayama?
Yep, it works in many, many cases. Just be careful to follow these crucial and precise directions, and listen to your body.
You already know the basic Pranayama 101 rules:
- That you have the hands at the chin and you move the elbows up and then together in front of you.
- And you know that you move your head back and forth. And you know you’re supposed to coordinate these 2 activities.
- So you know you inhale as you raise the elbows and bring the chin back to parallel with the floor.
- Then you exhale and push the fingers into the chin to push the head backwards while bringing the elbows together.
Now to get one huge leap further and fix your neck takes some attention.
Simple … IF you’re actually doing it consciouslyIt sounds simple. In fact I warn you now. You’ll probably read the following paragraphs and say to yourself “I am already doing that”. But you actually are not. You’re doing something that seems similar. This technique really needs you to be super conscious and attentive of head/hands connection, 100% of the time. Not just drifting in and out of that mindful attention. I am serious. So please, stay open-minded.
When you press the fingers against the chin instead of allowing the neck to be pushed back easily, press back strongly with the chin to RESIST the movement, and slow the movement of the neck backward and forward … right … d o w n.
In other words consciously press the chin into the hands as the hands press the head backward. Then press the jaw into the fingers as you lever the elbows back up again. Make it active rather than passive. If you think you’re doing this, then it’s likely you have constant contact, but I can guarantee that you can quite massively increase those reciprocal forces … otherwise this will simply not work.
Most people have the contact (most of the time) but it’s pretty passive. This action takes a lot more attention. Mark my words, this is placing a new focus on the interplay between head and arms. It also takes more energy and can (aka will) make Pranayama quite a lot more tiring.
When I have had a neck ache from sleeping funny, if I pay attention to the active pressing and resisting of head and hands I can feel the kinks iron out from 1 to half a dozen cycles. Conversely, if I just try Pranayama without this technique, I literally cannot participate.
For a video on Pranayama breathing, click "here".