[Creative Commons photo by Chris]
We’re right smack in the middle of Fall festival season, and I’ve been sewing up a storm! All that time hunched over the cutting table and sewing machine is definitely taking its toll on my body, and I’m sure I’m not the only crafter that suffers aches and pains after a crafting marathon. Rather than pop a couple of ibuprofen this year, I’m trying to relieve my muscles a little more naturally with yoga poses that target parts of my body that take the most abuse during this time of year.
Whether you’re sewing, making jewelry, knitting, or crocheting your neck works hard while you create. You can release some of that tension by simply rolling your head from side to side. Even better: let your head hang to the left while you take ten slow breaths, then repeat on the right side. If you’re looking to go a bit further, grab your yoga mat or a big towel and give these poses a shot! As with any new exercise, please be cautious and consult your doctor before trying anything too terribly strenuous.
This pose stretches your whole spine on top of helping relieve neck pain. Sit on the floor with your feet to the left of your bottom. As you inhale, lengthen your spine and gently twist to the right. Turn your head to the right and gaze behind you, being careful not to stretch your neck too far. You don’t want to give yourself a crick! You can check out a good picture of this pose and a more detailed description from Yoga Journal here.
Start out on your hands and knees, with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders. For the cow pose, inhale and lift your sit bones (that’s your butt) and roll your shoulders behind you, arching your back. Gaze up at the ceiling. You should feel a stretch across the front of your neck and in your belly. To transition to cat pose, exhale and press with your hands and reverse the arch in your back. Now, you should feel a stretch in the back of your neck and all along your spine. You can do this pair of poses in two ways. Either cycle between the two, holding each for just a few seconds and doing 8-12 repetitions or hold each pose for 10 breaths. Here is a great video demonstration of the Cat and Cow poses.
You can transition easily into Child’s Pose from Cat/Cow by sitting back on your knees. Then, as you exhale, lay your torso on the tops of your legs and rest your forehead on the floor. Let your arms lay alongside your body, and breathe. Stay here for 30-60 seconds while the tension melts out of your neck. If you want to read a bit more about Child’s Pose (balasana), here is a great article!
Check out Part Two here!