Many yoga classes start with a sequence of asanas (stretches) to ease tension in the neck and shoulders. It’s a great start for a number of reasons but mainly because daily stress and computer usage targets the neck muscles and increases the tension felt around the back of the neck and the head. Tension in this area can trigger headaches, migraines, sinusitis, nausea and a feeling of light – headedness. So, why would neck tension cause headaches across the temples and trigger the sinuses ?.
A bit of theory: The muscles at the back of the neck connect into the back of the head at roughly the level of the nostrils. Tightness in these muscles transmits over the head and comes to a stop at the eyebrows because the eyebrow muscles run sideways so the tension meets a block and stops there. If the eyes are tired you get a double problem, increasing the overall tension in the area that contains the sinuses. Its also worth knowing that tension in any muscle makes it feel tighter and shorter. If the neck muscles were allowed to become much shorter we would be walking round looking at the sky instead of straight ahead. Part of the brain function is to ensure that we are safe and looking at the sky is not safe, so instead of looking up the body raises the shoulders to allow us to look forward again. Simple mechanics really. However, pulling up the shoulders changes our breathing patterns and increases the stress and leaves us uncomfortable and less able to concentrate.
So…. Yoga for the neck and shoulders 😊. A simple sequence might only take 5 minutes and make a substantial difference to the way that you feel.
- Sit comfortably with your back straight. Don’t cross your ankles if you are sitting in a chair.
- Close your eyes and take a nice deep breath. Fill the lungs to a comfortable capacity then let the air out slowly. Do this 3 times.
- On the next out breath allow the chin to move down to the chest.
- On the next in breath lift the head up slowly to look towards the ceiling.
- Do 3) and 4) 3 times.
- Bring the head back to centre (looking forward) then turn it to the left as you breathe in.
- Turn to the right as you breathe out.
- Turn left as you breathe in and right as your breathe out – 2 more times. Bring the head back to centre (looking forward)
- Lift your shoulders up towards your ears as you breathe in.
- Drop your shoulders down as you breath out. Do 9) and 10) 3 times.
- Open your arms really wide as you breathe in and feel the shoulder blades squash together.
- Take a breath in and out then bring the arms across each and give your self a big hug as you breathe out.
- Do 11) and 12) 3 times
- Shake your arms out.
- Close your eyes again (they are probably open while you read these instructions 😉) and take 3 deep breaths, filling the lungs to comfortable capacity and let the air out slowly.
- Open your eyes and get yourself a cup of tea or a glass of water.
Doing the above exercises regularly will help keep the shoulders and neck feeling much more comfortable and ease tension headaches and sinus pressure.