This is one of my favorite stretches to release tension, holding, and inflammation of the neck muscles. As singers, we require freedom and ease through our neck and shoulder complex, but the act of singing, acting, and the stress and intensity with which we pursue our art leads to tension. By creating greater freedom through the neck and resetting the shoulders, we can free up the voice.
To do this, you’ll need a yoga block. Big box stores sell foam blocks which will work just fine; but I personally prefer these cork blocks because they create more pressure and give you something stronger to push against, allowing for a deeper release.
Start off on your back and place the occipital lobe (the base of your skull where the neck and skull connect) onto the block with the block horizontal at the middle height. Your head should end up higher than your shoulders. From there you can either keep your knees bent the entire time or extend through your legs, resting them on the floor and move your head slowly from side to side. Or you can do the twist I moved through in the video to accentuate the lengthening of the spine. To do so, lean your bent knees to the left, then slowly look to the right. Stay there for 5-10 breaths. Bring your head back to center first, then bring your knees up and switch directions. To finish up, you can extend your legs and adjust the angle of the block for maximum traction on the neck. It’s utterly delightful and I always feel so much taller and peaceful when I finish….even if it does give you a double-chin. 😉
(Click the title of the blog post to see video link)
Revelation of the day: I like me.
That is definitely something to be grateful for.
I didn’t always like myself. Actually, for a good long while I was my biggest critic. I never saw the good in myself. I never thought I was enough. I listened when people put me down or hurt me. I let them make me feel small and weak. I played their insults on constant repeat until I believed that I was what they said.
But, as life has aged me and changed me, I’ve realize that I’m pretty darn cool. You’re pretty darn cool too. We’re all pretty darn cool. I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for what our bodies, our minds, and our spirits go through in this crazy ride we call life. It’s quite amazing when you sit down and think about it. Yes, sometimes we do things wrong; we fail; we make bad decisions; we don’t always look as good or achieve as much as we may want; but, in the end, we are all just doing the best we can. We are beautiful. We are strong. We are powerful beyond all measure. Like yourself. It changes everything.
“Let them judge you. Let them misunderstand you. Let them gossip about you. Their opinions aren’t your problem. You stay kind, committed to love, and free in your authenticity. No matter what they say or do, don’t you dare doubt your worth or the beauty of your truth. Just keep on shining like you do.” -Scott Stable
“She sprouted love like flowers, grew a garden in her mind, and even on her darkest days, from her smile the sun still shined.” -Erin Hanson
As I approach my 3rd decade on this Earth, I am so grateful that I’ve learned to smile. Truly smile.
Much of my childhood was spent in tears. Bullies tore me down. Family drama broke my self-esteem. Most of my growing up time was spent on my own, hiding my chubby cheeks behind my books. When my family wanted to take my picture, my smile was often forced and broken. Growing up though, has taught me to smile, to laugh, to enjoy my life and to share that light with the world. I no longer hide my face or try to block my emotions. My smiles are real, shining beacons of joy. I look forward to another decade of real, lovely, truly happy smiles.