Sometimes yoga can get a bad wrap for various reasons. If we take away nefarious predators from the equation (which is a subject for a much longer blog post), most of the rest of the injuries are a result of overuse. One could even argue inappropriate overuse.
The biggest take away I’d want you to have, if you were to read no further is,
yoga should feel good.
If it doesn’t, then why on earth do it?
The desire to return to your mat every single day is not some masochistic beat yourself up so you can be better than everyone else in the room or for some other bragging right. The desire of returning to your mat every day is because it makes you feel better. The yoga practice makes you better. If something you’re doing doesn’t feel good, or ends up making you feel worse, I’d suggest stop doing that.
Another great point I’d like to make with this post and if you read nothing after this, I’d be ok:
Yoga Alignment cues are suggestions not rules of law
Keep in mind, your body is different than mine. Everyone’s body is, right? We all have a history and a story to tell in the tissues of our body. Cues your teacher gives are general guidelines he/she has also been taught or experienced in their own practice to help improve his/her own practice. Don’t worry, you won’t go to jail if your expression isn’t the exact same as the person beside or behind you. As long as if isn’t gonna hurt you and it makes you feel better, then in my book, you’re doing ok.
While practicing with Manju in 2019, I had the honor of assisting in a mysore room. (talk about nerve wracking!) I was helping a sweet friend of mine deepen her twist and afterward, Manju said something I will never forget. He told me sometimes it’s ok to just let the person experience the posture in their own bodies. Basically, he said I didn’t have to “help” so much. It’ll help them get to know themselves better; which I think we all want.
Sometimes I think folks get caught up on what is “right” or what so and so said is the “right way” to do xyz pose and forget entirely the joy of the practice.
With all that being said, I want to give you
one cue that can help you experience your practice more joyfully
Here’s a quick video if you’d rather watch. (be sure to like and subscribe to our youtube channel!)
To help reduce neck pain in yoga, especially in forward folds, tuck your chin
Super easy, right?
Instead of trying to look at your toes, or the ground in front of your feet, or any other such super creaking, eyes forward facing sort of thing, keep your chin slightly tucked, look down your nose and lengthen through the neck.
Go ahead and try it and see what happens?
In classes, I like to say, “no Shar pai necks”
When you lengthen through the neck by slightly tucking your check, it helps create space in an otherwise congested area (especially if you’re trying to look forward) which could be just what you need to help breathe, get comfortable, and experience the fullness of what the pose has to offer.
What do you think? Did you bust out a quick forward fold just to try it? Let me know! Leave a comment down below and let me know if this changed the way you experience your yoga practice. I’d love to hear!
Don’t forget, this is just one cue that I’ve found beneficial to reducing chronic neck pain. If it doesn’t work for you, play around til you find something that works for you.
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