Living in Sydney, with many of us hunched over desks, laptops, smartphones and steering wheels, it’s no wonder that almost everyone suffers from some kind of neck, shoulder and upper back stiffness, tightness and pain.

Your head makes up a 7th of your body’s total weight. If you’re a desk jockey, it’s likely that you jut forward from your shoulders… sitting like this for eight hours a day or more, five days a week, is a lot of time in this position!

Fortunately, our bodies are highly adaptable. We can live with this forward head tilt, but our muscles around the neck, shoulders and upper back shift from being response and reflexive to isometric or eccentric contraction – meaning your neck can feel trapped.

So then we come to yoga and while we know the practice is amazing for building strength and flexibility, it can exacerbate neck or back issues as we strain to look up or twist. Our neck compensates for up to 70% of every posture we do.

Having practiced yoga for over 30 years, I know too well the ongoing drama of a sore neck, stiff shoulders and a hunched upper back. It wasn’t until seven years ago, in a workshop with Ana Forrest where I was invited throughout the practice to relax my neck, did I realise how weak I actually was.

It’s been a process of unraveling deeply ingrained habits, but the result is a body that is way stronger than it’s ever been (I’m now 52) and a neck/shoulder/upper back that is pain free.

Please join me for a super intelligent adventure and learn how particular poses will help to lengthen and strengthen all the muscles in and around your upper torso. The result: your neck will become a spacious conduit allowing freer communication between your body and brain and you will begin to live a life that is healthy, vibrant and pain free.

Meanwhile, if you’re at your desk reading this or the next time you feel tight, stiff or you want to ease the pain, try the below:

Eagle arms

 

  • Sitting tall, towards the edge of your chair, cross right arm over left and either grab hands or lightly lay hands on opposite shoulders.
  • Inhale lifting elbows towards chin height
  • Exhale gently traction the upper arm bones away from the shoulders.
  • Stay sitting tall and lightly tip your forehead toward the upper arms.
  • Do 5 deep even and smooth breaths, lightly drawing belly to spine on the exhale. Keep elbows high and jaw relaxed.
  • Repeat with left arm over right.

 


Neck Release

 

  • Sit evenly on sit bones towards the edge of your chair, both feet on the ground.
  • Place right hand, palm down, under right bum cheek with fingers towards pubic bone.
  • Inhale up into the chest, lifting the ribs
  • Exhale gently releasing your head to the left.
  • Reach your left arm up and over the head, fingers gently over right ear
  • Separate back teeth.
  • Feel for a gentle downward pressure on the right palm as you inhale up into the right side of the neck and exhale to release a layer of tension.
  • Feel for sliding the right shoulder away from the ear.
  • Do 5 deep even and smooth breaths, lightly drawing belly to spine on the exhale. Keep jaw relaxed.
  • Repeat on the other side.

 


Shoulder Stretch

 

  • Either grab towards the back of your chair with an even grip, as far back as you can (ensure feet are evenly on the ground), or stand up in mountain pose and interlace your hands behind your back.
  • Inhale lifting the breath up into the chest, keep the neck neutral and chin parallel to the floor
  • Exhale, sliding shoulders down, shoulder blades towards one another.
  • Do 5 deep even and smooth breaths, lightly drawing belly to spine on the exhale.
  • Feel for expanding the chest and opening across the shoulders

 


Shoulder Shrugs

 

  • Sit evenly on sit bones towards the edge of your chair, both feet on the ground.
  • Use ONLY your shoulders, no arms for the first two stages!
  • Stage 1: Inhale into the upper back, hold the breath, shrug shoulders way up, pull them way back
  • Exhale drag upper shoulder blades down the back body, send crown up. Relax jaw!
  • Stage 2:  Inhale into the upper back
  • Exhale squeeze mid shoulder blades together and drag them down the back body, send crown up. Relax jaw!
  • Stage 3:  Inhale into the upper back, bend and pull elbows at 90 degrees into your waist
  • Exhale squeeze shoulder blade tips together and drag them down the back body, send crown up. Relax jaw!

 

Unlock your back, shoulders and neck workshop with Beth Borowsky | Saturday, 6th April | 1:30pm – 4:00pm.

Book here.

Beth Borowsky Senior Yoga teacher

With over 1000 hours of teacher training, and heading into her 14th year of teaching, Beth’s classes are Forrest Yoga inspired, intelligently sequenced to ensure that you move at a slower pace, giving time for your muscles to heat, energy to build and an opportunity to delve deeper within, both physically and emotionally, and so discover the true medicine that is yoga.

Beth’s classes invite you into Yoga Ceremony, reminding you to honour your body – its strengths and weaknesses – to prevent injury and build stamina, balance and inner calm. You’ll be encouraged to synchronise your breath with movement, and to cultivate a moving meditation creating a delicious synchronicity between body, mind, spirit and soul. She’ll encourage you to practice with a relaxed neck, to cultivate deeper intelligence and communication between your brain and body, and to let go of habitual tension. Her hope is that the wisdom you gather on the mat allows you to Walk in Beauty and With Love.

Beth is a former yoga teacher trainer with BML, and assists Ana Forrest and other senior Guardian teacher trainers in workshops and teacher trainings both in Australia and internationally.

She owns The Karma Class (thekarmaclass.com.au), a company whose vision is to bring the Life Lessons of Yoga, Breath and Mindfulness into every Australian classroom. Her awesome tribe of Kids Yoga teachers share these gifts in kids yoga classes at preschools and her NESA accredited workshop for school teachers nourishes teachers to nurture their students with daily bursts of Yoga, Breath and Mindfulness.

Beth honours her teachers, past and present, Ana Forrest, Sinhee McCabe, Jambo Truong, Twee Merrigan, Nicole Walsh, Mark Breadner, Sindar Kaur, Lorin Roche, Sarah Powers and Jodi Komitor (to name a few) for their inspiration and wisdom and brings this with her into her classes, workshops and retreats. She is loved and respected for the Beauty-full Retreats that she runs annually near Sydney and overseas.

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