The Happy Back Show Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 10

Free Your Neck and Head

15 min - Practice


Arturo shares a gentle and effective practice to help us find more freedom and ease in our neck and head. With attention towards breathing and softening tension, we start in a chair with simple movements. We then come onto our back to incorporate some therapeutic ball work. The practice will result in feeling more calm, open, and relaxed.
What You'll Need: Mat, Tennis Ball, Chair, Blanket


Read Full Transcript

(waves crashing) Hi and welcome. We're gonna do practice for the neck, to help free the head and neck up. Starting seated, but later on in the practice, you'll want a head pillow and a ball of some sort. A tennis ball will work great. So to start off on neck movements, we're gonna imagine that you have a long Pinocchio nose, with a pen, or pencil, crayon at the end.

And I'd like you start drawing circles with your nose, on the wall in front of you. It's helpful to close your eyes so you can really tune in to the shape that your nose is drawing. And you may notice that your circles might have corners, flat spots, see if you can go a little bit slower, feel a little bit more, checking that you are breathing, and go for smooth, round shapes with your circles. As you go a little slower, you'll get more awareness, more control, more ease in the movement. (exhales deeply) And the next time you come to the bottom center of your circle, pause there, and then reverse directions, drawing circles the other way. You may feel, when you go the second direction, we tend to go our really easy direction at first, and the second direction can feel a little ugh, a little awkward when you start going the second direction.

Just slow it down, (breathes deeply) and breathe it round and smooth. And you'll notice as you circle your head, circle your nose, that the back of the head, the occiput at the base of the skull, and the top of the spine, are getting a nice movement massage. The next time you come around to the bottom center of your circle, pause there, and then bring your eyes back to the horizon. We're gonna draw a different shape with our Pinocchio noses. This time we're gonna draw a sideways figure eight, an infinity sign.

And again, it's good to close your eyes as you draw the infinity sign. See if you can feel where your nose is crossing the center of your infinity sign from side to side. I always feel (clears throat) I always feel a little like Stevie Wonder when I do this. Oh. Go for slow, smooth, ease-filled movement.

Doesn't have to be big. And the next time you come to the center of the infinity sign, pause, and reverse the direction. And again, the second direction often feels a little more awkward. It's okay, just go slow, go small, feel in (exhales) to the roundness, the smoothness of the shape. Couple more cycles around the infinity sign, and the next time you come to the center, pause there.

Gonna do a little self massage, so you're gonna make a hook with a hand, with the left hand, and bring it to the top corner of the shoulder blade, which is right here. There's usually a rock of knotted muscle right there. So you're gonna make that hook, and just press down into it, oh, and then holding that pressure, and you can even add the weight of your other hand to increase the pressure. Tip the head away from the pressure. (exhales) Then come back up, release the fingers for a moment, hook, press, tip. (exhales) Then come back up. Release the pressure, relax the fingers.

Hook, press, and take a few infinity signs, while holding this pressure on the top corner of the shoulder blade, on that rock of muscle right there. And go the opposite direction. Back to the center, release the hand, and take a pause. And making that same hook shape with your right hand, gonna reach across to the top corner of the shoulder, press down, you can add more weight with your left hand on the right wrist, (exhales) and tip the head away. And come back up, release the hand, make the hook, press in, and tip the head towards the right, away from the pressure.

Bringing the head back to center, release the pressure, hook the hand, press again, and come into the infinity signs, while holding the pressure with the right hand into the left shoulder. And go the other way, and back to the center, release the hand, release the arms down, and just feel into the head and neck, as you rest at the center. And we're gonna come down to the mat. So taking the chair out of the way, bringing your head pillow in, and have your ball on the right side, what will be your right side. So when we come onto our backs, we're gonna bring the ball right into the base of the skull, the occipital bone.

Right in here. And we wanna be careful to keep it on the skull, and not so much on the neck, the sides of the neck can be a little fragile, so we wanna be right upside the head, right on the base of the skull bone. So the ball on your right side, come onto your back, get the head pillow comfortable, and then the ball is gonna be in your left hand. We don't wanna do this with the right hand, 'cause it's gonna make our shoulder tighten up, so relax the right arm down, tilt the head a little to the left, and then bring the ball in right upside the base of the skull. As you have it right against the skull, you're gonna turn your eyes a little to the right, and turn your nose a little to the right, until you press into the base of the skull with the ball.

If you have a ball that doesn't slide, you might be able to do it without your hand, but usually you need to support it in some way. Pressing, turning the eyes slightly towards the ball, (exhales deeply) relaxing the right arm. Hold it about five breaths. (exhales deeply) And then to release, turn the head a little to the left away from the ball, take the ball out, and just slowly roll the head, a little side to side. Really slow motion here.

Switch the ball to your right hand, and then turn your head, roll your head a little to the right, take the ball to the base of the skull, on the left side. Gonna hold it there. Start to turn your eyes a little to the left, turn your head a little to the left, just bringing some pressure of ball into the base of the skull. (breathes deeply) And breathe. Keeping the left arm relaxed.

The right arm is doing a little bit of work. (breathes deeply) And then release the pressure, take the ball out, and down to your side, release hands out along your sides. And roll the head a little, slowly side to side. Notice if you're lifting your head to turn it, see if you can let your head be heavy like a bowling ball. Slowly rolling side to side.

(exhales deeply) And coming to back to the center. And taking a rest here. You can have the knees rest towards each other. The legs in constructive rest. And let's add the arms in constructive rest.

Taking the arms across the chest, and relaxing them. So the arms completely heavy, the head heavy and relaxed, the legs resting into each other. You can take this as your final relaxation, for 10 or 15 minutes. (breathes deeply) Or you can unwind the arms, roll yourself onto whichever side feels good. Ease up towards your chest.

(breathes deeply) And bring the top hand down in front of you. Roll forward, let your head hang heavy, slowly roll your way up, and find a comfortable seated position. Once you come up to seated, you can check out the infinity sign a few times in each direction. Come back to the center. I hope that helps free up your neck.

Your palms together in front of your heart. Namaste.


Suzanne L
I found this practice very helpful and will repeat it often. Thanks.
really useful - hadn't come across the infinity movement before and the ball at the base of the skull was great. thanks.
Eric K
Perfect. Thank you.
So on target and relaxing.  Thank you!
Daniel C
That Pinoccio work revealed a whole new architecture in my body. . Thank you also for your mature instruction and letting me get into the work by staying out of my ear as so many Yoga instructors across the world have a want to do. 
Lien Matthijs
Whaaaaaaa! I woke up with a headache and did this amazing short class for head and neck before going to work. Thanks you, feel so much relieved already!

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