About a month ago I realized that humans have the ability to tilt their heads back all the way.
I never had—there’s always been a tremendous pain; I believed that the neck just doesn’t move like that.
But then, yoga class after yoga class my teacher Esther suggested we tip our heads back—if it felt alright.
I fathomed— it must be possible!
Curious, I began delving into entire classes of deep stretches, focusing exclusively on the neck and shoulders.
Holy tension batman.
I have been lugging some major knott-age for..well, for as long as I can remember in my 24 years kicking’ it on this earth spaceship.
I’ve never been able to tip my head all the way back; for years shoulder rubs have often been awkwardly inefficient.
I remember noticing that my dancing suddenly included throwing my arms in the air after beginning a yoga practice a couple years ago (a sure side effect of even minimal stretch being given to my shoulders)
Now that I’ve been dedicating my time to focusing on loosening these badboys, I’ve become acutely aware of the slightest stress being held—I feel it; my neck becomes heavy and feels weighed down.
The truly scary thing is that this is what “normal” must have felt like before I became aware my tendency.
We all have a physical place we love to store our tension (and by “love to store” I mean “habitually stash”).
For me, it’s my shoulders and neck—maybe for you it’s your hips, your legs…your lower back.
You may be so used to it that it’s just a part of who you think you are.
The next time you’re clearly feeling stressed; a state of being most easily noticed first mentally—tune into your body, spend a minute closing your eyes and identifying where it feels physically tight—where are you contracting?
Those places where your tension manifests are the same places that, when stretched and shown some attention and love, will most quickly bring you relief.
I’ve been experiencing some intense transition lately, but each evening I’m spending a window of time gently stretching out my neck and loosening my shoulders.
I’m finally learning an important life lesson: maintenance is more pleasant than extremes.
I’ve been holding my stress in these areas for years; it’s second nature. The more frequently I counteract this habit, the better!
Give me half an hour of neck and shouldercise and I feel like a totally new woman. Calm, soft, open.
Where do you stash your stress in your body? Tune in, and look for appropriate stretches for the area.
These stretches don’t need to be fast and intense—the slower, deeper moves really get in there, and can be the most powerful.
Don’t know any stretches? This is another reason I love Ekhart Yoga (12 bucks/month, online), they have classes exploring all the different areas of the body—super useful; when I’m stressed it is the hardest to think of my own “moves” to use.
We all stash it somewhere—and experience the most relief when we begin to open those places—not just physically but mentally and emotionally.
After all, the stress that we keep in our bodies started as mental—naturally, to release it is to experience a release on all levels of our being.
I’m enjoying this journey with my neck and shoulders—I’m looking forward to continuing to open the area until perhaps, it stays open; until I stop myself in my tracks from holding onto life’s inevitable stresses.
Life is stressful, and that’s not inherently negative—it’s the holding on that is.