Pose of the Week:  Kantasanchalana (Neck Rolls)

Kanta = Neck

Sanchalana = Movement

In many of the practices I teach, meditation and chair yoga especially, I dedicate a portion of the practice to neck rolls.   From http://www.e-swastya.com/2010/10/neck-roll-or-kantasanchalana.html there are three important benefits of doing neck rolls: 

  1. Overall this pose increases the stamina and flexibility of the neck muscles.
  2. A good pose for all those who work long hours on computers.
  3. A nice workout to do even in our offices to de-stress in minutes.

From https://www.sisselshop.com/exercise/c-stretches/523_yoga_neck_rolls.php additional benefits are listed:

  • Helps to relieve headaches, migraines, and throat ailments
  • Increases the suppleness of the neck and trapezius muscles.
  • Improves the mobility of the cervical spine. 
  • Alleviates neck tension.

I avoided neckrolls for many years and loathed when they were included in a practice, even though I knew how important they were for the mobility of my neck and the frequent upper back pain I experienced. When I did them, I would try to fake my way through them, holding my breath as I attempted to roll through the pain they caused.  I could not get my neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles to release.  I found doing neck rolls to release those muscles and loosen up my neck just caused frustration.  They also hurt.  My neck and shoulders were seriously bunged up and no amount of chiropractic visits changed that.  I was always in some state of “bunge,” even when I thought I was feeling good.  The moment of honesty about my degree of “bungeness” came when attempting the dreaded shoulder rolls. 

This year some old tendonitis flared up.  I could not identify its point of origination, could not figure out how to fix it with changes in my work station, stretches, or splinting.  I made a discovery that sitting up nice and straight and drawing my shoulders down and on to my back made me feel……good! 

It was with this realization that I started really focusing on these aspects of alignment while doing and teaching yoga, always the quest to find extension in the spine through engagement of the core muscles, drawing the shoulders down, and drawing the neck long.   With this idea, let’s go through some shoulder rolls.

  1. Start by sitting or standing with a tall and extended spine, shoulders falling down with ease and drawing on to the back
  2. Take a nice inhale, then, on the exhale, drop the chin to the chest.  
  3. On the next inhale begin to turn your head to the right, leading with the chin.
  4. Rotate your head to the back and switch your breath to an exhale as you turn your head to the left and bring your chin back to your chest.
  5. Mindfully and intentionally draw your shoulders down, particularly if you feel that your neck is feeling “stuck” as you are going through these rolls. 
  6. Take these neck rolls at the pace that works for you and be sure to link the breath with movement.