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10 Quick Yoga Stretches For Neck Pain Relief

10 Quick Yoga Stretches For Neck Pain Relief

Long and stressful hours at the office, lengthy commutes, carpooling, and hoisting our toddlers up and down can be grueling for the mind and body. These are some of the most common stressors that cause chronic neck pain.  Management for neck pain is essential in supporting overall spinal health. Yoga is the number one preventative approach to maintaining your body’s total well being. Here are 10 simple yoga stretches to help relieve that stubborn neck pain.

1. Child’s Pose

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    • Begin in a kneeling position and inhale.
    • Exhale and drop your buttocks toward your heals as you stretch your body down and reach your arms forward.
    • Rest your arms on the earth, alongside your body with your stomach nestled between thighs and forehead on the mat.
    • Remain in child’s pose for 3-5 breaths, feeling your spine begin to lengthen and your buttocks dropping down.

    2. Cow to Cat Pose

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      • Begin in a table-top position; hands with fingers pointed forward aligning under shoulders and knees aligning under hips at hip-width distance.
      • Move into cow pose by inhaling; drop your belly toward the mat, lift the chin and chest, with eyes gazing up toward the sky.
      • Move into cat pose by exhaling; draw your belly toward the spine with a round back toward the sky.
      • Alternate between cow and cat pose 3-5 times.

       3. Seated Spinal Twist

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        • Begin seated with legs extended.
        • Cross right foot over outside of left thigh with a bent knee. The right knee is pointed toward the sky.
        • Inhale and place the left elbow to the outside of the right knee with the right hand centered to the spine on the floor behind you.
        • Exhale and twist right in a gentle movement, moving from your abdomen, keeping both sit-bones on the floor. Remain for 5 breaths.
        • Repeat on the other side. Left foot over right thigh, right elbow outside of left knee, hand centered to spine behind on the floor, twist and breathe.

         4.  Ear to Shoulder Pose

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          • Begin seated with legs crossed, looking straight ahead with arms down at your side.
          • After a deep inhale, exhale and bring your right ear down to your right shoulder without bending your head forward or backward to remain in the same line as your shoulders.
          • Inhale and raise your head back to center.
          • Exhale and repeat on the other side by drawing your left ear down to the left shoulder.
          • Repeat 3 times on both sides.

           5.  Wide Legged Forward Ben

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            • Begin in a standing position with feet wide apart.
            • Inhale and straighten your spine up before exhaling while you fold forward at the hips.
            • Gently drop your head to the earth and gaze behind you.
            • Bring your hands to the floor or wherever they can reach, with your elbows pointing behind you.
            • Remain in this pose for 3-5 breaths.

            6.  Rabbit Pose

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              • Begin in child’s pose.
              • Hold on to your heels with your hands, inhale and gently roll from your forehead to the crown of your head, lifting your hips up toward the sky.
              • Exhale and slowly lower hips to back to the heels and forehead back to starting position.
              • Repeat 3-5 times.

              7.  Extended Puppy Pose

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                • Begin in a table top position; hands with fingers pointed forward aligning under shoulders and knees aligning under hips at hip-width distance.
                • Inhale as you walk your hands out in front of you, lowering your chest down toward the ground.
                • Exhale and keep your hips over your knees and arms shoulder distance apart, while you gently release your forehead to the ground.
                • Inhale and inch your finger tips away from your body, draw your shoulder blades together, and reach your hips up toward the sky.
                • Exhale and remain in this pose for 3-5 breaths.

                8.  Fish Pose

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                  • Begin in a laying-down position with legs extended and arms resting alongside your body with palms down.
                  • Gently raise your sacral area as you bring your hands together beneath your lower spine with thumbs touching and palms flat on the floor.
                  • Inhale and press your forearms into the earth while lifting your upper back to create an arch.
                  • Exhale; lift your shoulder blades and upper torso off of the earth, gently tilting your head back so the crown of your head is to the floor.
                  • Remain in this pose for 3-5 breaths.

                  9.  Legs Up The Wall Pose

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                    • Begin in a laying-down position with legs raised above hips and pressed against the wall.
                    • Shift your weight from side to side as you inch your buttocks toward the wall.
                    • Inhale and let your arms rest open at your sides with palms facing up.
                    • Exhale and let your hip joints and lower back come into contact with the earth.
                    • Close your eyes and remain in this pose for 5-7 breaths.

                    10. Corpse Pose with Head and Neck Support

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                      • Place a bolster, folded blanket, or towel on the earth where your head will rest.
                      • Lie back on the bolster with knees bent.
                      • Place the bolster under your head and neck.
                      • Inhale and extend legs one at a time.
                      • Exhale and allow your body to relax into the earth with arms placed out to the side and palms up.
                      • Focus on inhaling and lengthening along the earth while you exhale.
                      • Continue to breathe with eyes closed for 3-10 breaths.

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                      Last Updated on September 10, 2019

                      7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

                      7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

                      Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

                      Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

                      This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

                      One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

                      Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

                      Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

                      1. Gratitude

                      Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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                      The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

                      Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

                      So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

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                        2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

                        This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

                        For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

                        What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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                        Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

                        3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

                        This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

                        Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

                        An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

                        Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

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                          4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

                          According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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                          There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

                          5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

                          Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

                          Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

                          6. Rise Earlier

                          The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

                          For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

                          So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

                          Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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                          7. Listen to Uplifting Music

                          Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

                          Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

                          It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

                          Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

                          More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

                          Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
                          [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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