Flow Sweet Flow Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 11

Neck Unwinding

35 min - Practice


Kari leads us through a slow, groovy flow with a focus on awakening the head, neck, and shoulders. We begin by bringing awareness to the breath while moving through a few gentle stretches for the head and neck and continue to move into a soothing flow sequence. You will feel a sense of relief and freedom.
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

(waves lapping) Welcome. Thank you so much for joining me today. Congratulations for getting onto your mat. We're just gonna start in a nice comfortable seat, feel free to support yourself as you need, folded blanket, or a block, and we're just gonna start off finding a little awakening into the head and the neck. So taking a moment to allow the eyes to close.

Starting to reconnect with the rhythm of your breath. Take a nice, big, deliberate inhale. And as you exhale, allow that chin just to begin to fall forward towards the chest. So trying to bring a little bit more awareness just up into the cervical spine. So we're not rounding the shoulders, continuing to rise up through the heart.

Soften through the jaw. And just take a few breaths here. Allowing the inhale to rise and expand, and the exhale to release and to ground. And with that heavy head and that relaxed and soft mouth, just slowly starting to move through the head and neck with an inhale, allowing the right ear to roll up and over towards the right shoulder. And just start to explore what's showing up in the left side of the neck today.

And then let an exhale roll us back, chin to chest, and then inhale nice and easy, over onto the left side, ear towards the shoulder. And then exhale, returning chin to chest. And we're just gonna take this side to side with the rhythm of your breath. And it's almost like we're drawing a half-circle with the nose and the chin. But just working through this forward plane here.

Trying to keep length and lift through the back of the spine. And the sense of widening through the front of the heart. And as you continue to explore with your breath, just allow yourself to be curious what's showing up. Sometimes we don't even realize how stuck we can get until we actually begin to let go. And as that starts to feel even for you, right to left, we'll return back to center, chin at the chest, and then let an inhalation lift that head back to neutral, big exhale when you get there.

(exhales deeply) And then allowing that head to dip over to the side now. So we're just gonna bring the right ear over towards the right shoulder, and as we do so, take that right arm, reaching it up, over, and across the head, and we're just gonna let the fingertips rest lightly near that left ear. So we're not pulling, we're not doing anything forceful, just a little bit of extra weight and leverage there. And then allow that left hand to release, extend the fingertips toward the earth. I like to play with a little bit of a 45 degree angle here, just to really start to awaken a little bit more towards the front body, a little bit more into that deltoid, even all the way up into that collarbone, and then sometimes it's nice to explore a little movement in the fingers.

And you'll find some new sensations that show up. A little exploration of the wrist. All the while still mindful of softening inside the mouth. Little bit more spacious. And then as we release that left hand back towards the thigh or knee to rest, let the right arm reach up, and then all the way back down as the head returns to neutral, and just pause for a moment here, feeling into the effects of that.

And when you feel ready, letting that head drop over to the left side, so left ear towards the left shoulder, left hand's gonna reach up, over, and across the head over towards that right ear now, and again, just a little bit of gentle leverage here, just finding some really sweet, soft, tender traction. And then let that right arm start to release, reaching at that 45 degree angle, stretching through the fingertips, even the fingernails. Big, deliberate breaths. Start to explore a little bit of movement there in the fingertips on the right hand. Little exploration through the wrist, the palm, even up into the forearm.

Keep rising up through the heart. And then again, once that feels even for you, allow that right hand to return to the thigh or knee, that left hand to release gently as the head returns to neutral, again, big, deliberate inhale, exhale from an open mouth. (exhales deeply) And then with those hands on the thighs or knees, just starting to begin to extend the torso on over to the left side, feel that right side body start to lengthen, and then we're just gonna start these gentle circle motions through the upper body, so torso moving, allowing the hips to stay rooted and grounded. And as we start to stir around the heart, almost like we're stirring a pot, perhaps allowing the head and neck to come into play a little bit more by allowing the chin to drop towards the chest, and then as we open the heart, let the gaze rise up, and just continuing to see what's showing up and what feels good. So remember that that's always the most important thing in our practice, is, really just connecting with ourselves, with what your body's craving.

And as we return to neutral, inhale, shoulders up to the ears, and big exhale (exhales deeply) as the shoulders release, allowing the eyes to gently flutter open, and then beginning to transition into all fours, in your own time. So rolling forward, or releasing, and as we stack up our joints, bringing the shoulders over the wrists, hips over the knees, just starting with some really gentle Cat-Cow motions to awaken that spinal flexion and extension. Let the inhale rise up, and it may feel nice here to pause for a moment and really feel those shoulders move back and down away from the ears. Exhale, coming into our rounded Cat, chin to chest, again a little bit more awakening through the head with a little shake no, and then a little shake yes. Inhale, rising up, lifting through the heart, feel the shoulders move down and away from the ears to lengthen through the throat, and then with our exhale, coming back into that rounded Cat, again feeling up into that cervical spine, maybe a little wiggle.

And then slowly starting to drop back towards Child's Pose. And I'll invite you to open up the knees just a little bit wider than normal here, bringing the big toes together, and as we start to lower the buttocks towards the heels, beginning to extend and walk those fingertips forward. And as we feel into that length, opening up through the side body, before you collapse the heart, just take a moment here again to press forward through the palms, lift up, and widen through the collar bones. (exhales deeply) And then with an exhale, let everything start to soften, lowering the belly, lowering the heart, and then lowering through that forehead. And from here, from that wide-kneed Child's Pose, with that big, expansive heart, start to take the palms, and bring the palms towards one another, so we're gonna come into an Anjali mudra here.

So as those palms join above the head, letting the forehead rest, we're then gonna begin to lift the fingertips upward towards the sky, and allow those thumbs to start to journey their way back. They may pause overhead, or it may feel appropriate for you to continue to reach the thumbs back, perhaps resting on the back of the neck, or maybe even finding their way a little bit more between the shoulders, and as you do that, to deepen that experience, just walk those elbows forward, almost like they're little crabs. And as we continue to walk the elbows forward and sink low through the heart, reaching back through the thumbs, feel that big awakening there. Triceps. Into that pectoral muscle where it attaches to that upper arm.

And then allow that sense of release as the palms drop, hands walking back underneath the shoulder heads. Pressing into the earth as the chin tucks up into the chest, rolling up through the spine, and pause here for a moment, in this wide-kneed Virasana, couple shoulder loops. And from there let the knees start to come back together. Extending hands forward, curling the toes, reaching up, back, and down into our first Down Dog of the morning. Take a big, deliberate inhale.

Exhale it all. (exhales deeply) And then begin to slowly walk those hands back towards the feet. Softening the knees as we pause in Uttanasana with long arms. So from Uttanasana as we allow the arms to dangle, just exploring taking ahold of opposite wrists, opposite forearms, or opposite elbows here, and then really release the chin to the chest. Start to bring a little bit more awareness into the upper back, the neck, a little shake of the head, a little wiggle through those shoulder blades, and then keeping the head heavy, pressing into the feet as we roll on up to stand with this arm clasp engaged.

And as we roll up through the spine, lifting the heart, lifting the arms, and then eventually lifting up through the chin and the nose as well, big breath in here, feel your tailbone start to root. Feel that sense of expanding, widening, and then inhale, fingertips up to the sky. From your rooting through the feet, let the hands come together into Steeple mudra, interlacing the fingers, and let the index fingers point upward. Begin to squeeze the upper arms in towards the ears. And then just take a moment in here to check in with that head and neck again.

Oftentimes as we start to lift the shoulders, a lot of that tension rises up into the neck. So soften through the head, a little shake, soften through the jaw. Take another in breath to lift, and then as you exhale, begin to lean on over to the right side, just opening up through that side body, keep rooting through those feet. And then with an inhalation, rising back up through neutral, and with our exhale, dipping on over to the left. Keep squeezing those upper arms in towards the ears.

Inhale, back through neutral. With our exhale, big open arms, soften the knees, to let those sticky hamstrings release. And as we walk the hands forward back into the shape of Down Dog, take a moment to look back at your feet. And as we look back at the feet, open up the feet a little bit wider, maybe to the width of your mat, maybe even a little bit wider, out to the earth. So see what feels right for you.

And as we find that sense of stability, allow the gaze to come forward now towards your hands. And we're gonna start off by bringing that right hand directly out in front of the face, so it's center. So I'm creating more of this tripod shape with my feet and my hand. And as that left hand releases, bring the left hand under the heart, reaching over towards the right side, and then find a hold wherever you are. It may be up on your thigh, you may be a little bit lower, towards your calf or your ankle, and as we start to find that hold, just begin to turn the gaze under that right armpit, big, full, breaths into the neck and shoulders.

And then releasing that hold, so let the gaze come forward. Now we're just gonna replace the hands, so now left hand out and center, creating that tripod stability. Let the right hand come under the heart, over to the left side of the body, and then again, just find a hold wherever you are. And as we find that hold, bring the gaze under the armpit, soften the jaw. (exhales deeply) And then releasing that, let the hand return.

Bring the hands out to shoulder width again. And then begin to step the feet back to center. Take a big breath in. (inhales deeply) Exhale it all. (exhales deeply) Shake out the head.

Let an inhalation bring that right leg up, Eka Pada. Feel into the reach through that right heel. And then begin to step that foot forward. Take your time, it may take a couple steps to get there. We're gonna lower the left knee to the mat.

Keep the toes curled under as we begin to rise up through the heart. And just play here for a moment, just kind of swaying in and out of this Low Lunge. And as we sway in and out of this Low Lunge as we sink forward through the hips, keeping the right hand rooted on that right thigh to ground. Inhale left arm to the sky. Feel into the length here, and then give a bend into that left elbow.

Now we're just gonna let the fingertips come between the shoulder blades or wherever it ends up for you, it may even be behind the head. And as we bring that hand back, squeezing inner thighs into the midline, let the right arm reach up. Take ahold of that left elbow, and then gently open up through that left side. Let the chin and the nose begin to rise up. Big, full breaths.

Inhale, both arms up to the sky. And then exhale, releasing forward. Step right foot to meet left in Down Dog. Take a moment here just to feel into that. Pedal it out.

Let an inhalation lift the left leg up, Eka Pada, reach back with the heel, press. Feel into that reach. Inhale a little higher, exhale left foot forward, again, take your time. Sometimes I even have to reach back and ask the foot to come along. And then release that back right knee to the mat.

Keep the toes curled under as we start to lift the heart. And again, just playing in and out here a few times, just waking up into the hips and into the legs. And as we sink forward into this lunge, lifting through the heart, allow the right arm to reach up and open. Keep anchoring through that left heel. Give a bend into the right elbow and see where this side ends up.

And the fingertips here may be somewhere totally different where they were on the other side. Let an inhalation reach up with the left hand, take ahold of that right elbow, and then gently reaching back to open the heart. Little movement through the head, release through the jaw. (exhales deeply) Inhale, both arms to the sky. Exhale, fold forward, release.

Step back, Down Dog. Take a nice, big breath in. (inhales deeply) Exhale it all. (exhales deeply) And then building upon that, let an inhale reach that right leg back, press with the heel. Inhale a little higher.

Exhale, take it forward, lower the left knee. Rising up, curl back left toes under. Now this time as we allow ourselves to sink in, bring the hands forward. Interlacing the fingers, press out through the palm. And as we press forward through the palms, see if you can really feel into that sense of widening across the back of the shoulder blades.

So the sense of pressing and expanding. Inhale all the way up towards the sky with those fingers interlaced, and then encourage those shoulder blades to sink. And as they sink, flip the palms, bring them behind the back of the head for some support. Let both of the elbows widen and then begin to lift the gaze. Soften the jaw.

(exhales deeply) Feel that beautiful opening into the heart, into the mouth. (exhales deeply) And then releasing, coming all the way down, step back Down Dog, and just feel the effects as we pedal out. Let an inhale reach that left leg back, pressing with the heel. Wide through the fingers. Inhale a little higher, exhale sweep forward, lower the right knee.

Find your stance, play with it, come in and out as you need. And as we sink forward through the hips, bringing the hands forward, interlace, press out with the palms. Feel again, into that sense of widening. Inhale, to the sky. Open up through the heart, soften the shoulders.

Flip the palms, behind the head. Widening through the elbows, lift the heart, lift the gaze. And then support the weight of the head in those hands like you're dropping into a hammock. Open mouth. From here, opening, releasing, coming forward.

Step back, Down Dog. And then pausing into Balasana to feel the effects. (breathes deeply) From Balasana, perhaps letting the hands walk back underneath the forehead, elbows to open wide. And just soften through the shoulders and the neck. Open up that mouth.

(breathes deeply) And when you're ready, slowly rising up, spreading the fingers, curling the toes. Let an exhale press us back. Downward-Facing Dog. Head and neck to release. And then walking hands back towards the feet, once again soften the knees, long, heavy arms this time.

Chin to chest, rolling up to stand. As we press into the earth, loop the shoulders a few times, to the ears, and back. And then just find a little intuitive movement through your head and your neck, releasing anything that built up there. And as we loop the shoulders back, perhaps letting the elbows come into play a little bit more, almost like these wings. And as we release through those shoulders, let the hands come back, fingers are gonna interlace, and then we're gonna pull down towards the earth with the knuckles as we lift up through the chest.

And as we feel into this lift, let the knuckles slide on over towards the right hip. So the left elbow's gonna bend, and the forearm comes across the lower back. And then take this right shoulder and loop just the right shoulder a few times, it's almost like you're rowing a boat. And just feel into that range of motion, switch directions. And then as we loop the shoulder back and down again, wide through the heart, allow your head to begin to drop to the opposite left side, so left ear towards the shoulder.

Soften the jaw. Come back to the breath. (breathes deeply) And then keeping the head dipped to the left, we're just gonna bring the gaze, that drishti, across the left shoulder, towards the earth. So we're angling the nose and the chin a little bit more to the shoulder. And then let an inhale, angle, still at the left, a little bit more up towards the sky.

And just explore that a couple times, looking down, and then looking up. And if you find somewhere interesting along the way that has a little bit more sensation, feel free to pause there. And then eventually bring in the head back to neutral. Slide the knuckles across the spine, and on over to your left hip. Again, take a moment to root the feet, to lift the heart.

Loop that left shoulder like you're rowing a boat. And as we start to work out some of these kinks, again, you may be surprised just how stuck you may be in some spots. And just coming into that awareness without any judgment. Switching it around. And then as we loop that shoulder back and down, lifting through the heart, dropping the head on over to the opposite right shoulder, so ear just tilting down.

Big, full breaths. (breathes deeply) And as we breathe into this awakening, allow the head to continue to tilt right, as we look across the shoulder towards the earth. So we're angling the nose and the chin a little bit more towards that shoulder. And then inhale, bringing the gaze a little bit more up towards the sky, and then exhale back down, and again, just see what this side has to reveal. Continuing to be spacious between the teeth, heavy in the tongue.

And once that side feels complete, let the head return to neutral, let the knuckles slide towards the low back, release, let the palms turn forward, and just pause here for a moment in Tadasana. See if you can reduce the wobbliness and just feel steady on your own two feet. Inhale, reaching up towards the sky. With an exhalation, swan dive forward. Walk the hands to the top of the mat, this time working back through the inner arches and the heels to a Plank position.

Fire up that awakening now in those wide shoulders. Lowering down through the knees, elbows, slide forward, open the heart, and release the shoulders back and down. Bhujangasana. Exhale, to the earth. Press back, Tabletop.

So as you allow yourself to find that stability in Tabletop, just bringing your awareness down to those thighs. We have a tendency to either sweep the hips forward or back, and just to the best of your ability, sometimes it's a little difficult to determine where you are in space, we're trying to keep those hips over the knees, and those femurs nice and perpendicular to the earth. And as we do that, just start to walk the hands forward. And as we walk the hands forward, I like to just continually check in, see what those hips are doing. And as we continue to reach forward, feeling into that length, begin to sink down through the heart.

Begin to sink down through the head and neck. Perhaps resting that forehead on the earth as we start to hammock through the spine, or perhaps even lifting the gaze and allowing the heart and the chin to rest on the earth. Big, full breaths. (breathes deeply) And as we feel into that release, if you took it to the chin, returning to the forehead, and then keeping that head down, so as not to strain the neck, walk the hands, one at a time, back under the shoulder heads. Squeeze the elbows into the side body, and then use that strength to press straight back up into that Tabletop position.

Just beginning to walk those knees on over to the side, and we're gonna transition onto our backs. And as we allow ourselves to recline, we're gonna keep the knees bent, feet on the earth, and just take a moment to soften. A little wiggle through the sacrum. And then allow those arms to extend, big and wide out from the shoulder heads, and I'll invite you to place the palms down, if that feels okay. Modifying as you need.

But then it's a sense of pressing the palms into the earth and it's almost as if we're trying to put our hands into wet sand. And as we feel that sense of rootedness, begin to take those knees, and just gently windshield wiper those knees from side to side. Feel into that big, expansive chest. Start to release anything that's holding through the spine, and then perhaps allow the head to begin to participate by looking towards the opposite hand of where those knees are falling. And as we take that side to side, rest in your rhythm.

The next time you find your knees to the right, we're gonna hold there. So knees are gonna drop to the right, and gaze is gonna turn to the left. As you do that, begin to slide your left hand with the palm still facing the earth a little bit closer to the body. And as we do that, just begin to bend that left elbow, and we're gonna bring the hand with the palm facing down underneath that lifted buttock, with that bent elbow. And then unwinding to center, with the knees as well as the head, so that we end up sitting on that hand.

Now this may already feel like enough for that shoulder, but as it feels welcome for you, we're just gonna perhaps take it a little bit deeper by bending the elbow a little more, and then sliding that hand again, palm facing down, into the small of the low back. And then it's the sense of depressing the shoulder and widening through the collarbones. I like to also play with a little bit of a lift of my chin here to allow the throat to expand. And again, that may be plenty, but if it feels like it would serve you to perhaps take it just a little bit more into sensation, you can begin to slide those fingertips up a little higher towards the bottom edge of your wings, of those scapula. So when you find the spot that feels right for you, I'll invite you to extend the legs to long.

And then begin to soften any sort of gripping or clenching inside your buttocks. A little wiggle down through the legs. And then just find a little exploration and movement of the head and neck. So similar to what we did when we were standing. And as we start to play with this, you'll usually find somewhere along the way where there's just a little bit more goin' on.

And when you find that spot for you, just pause into it. Take a deep, full breath. (breathes deeply) Open up that mouth a bit. And then, as you're ready, no rush, let the head slowly return to neutral. And then allow the feet to walk onto the mat, knees back into the bend.

And then again, no rush. Let the right knees eventually drop back to the right side. And then slide that left hand out, and then turn the palm open. Take a nice big, hah, into that shoulder, and then let yourself unwind. As you unwind, take those little wiggles and shimmies, spread the arms again, turning the palms down, pressing our handprints into the sand.

And then begin to once again windshield wiper those knees side to side. Head can roll. And as we move with the breath, switching now, knees to the left. Take that right hand with the palm down, slide the hand little bit closer to the body, and then begin to bend the elbow as we bring the palm hand down underneath the lifted buttock. Unwinding as we sit onto that hand, return the head to neutral, and just feel into this right shoulder.

Again, maybe this is plenty for this side. To take it a little bit deeper, we're gonna bring that hand up into the small of the low back, little deeper bend of the elbow. Or perhaps even walking the fingertips up a little bit higher. Find where it feels right for you. And when you find that spot and open the heart and reach back through the chin, allow the legs to release to long.

Allow the buttocks to soften. Soles of the feet to relax. Big, full breaths. And again, a little exploration of that movement through the neck. And when you find that spot that feels yummy, pause, soften the jaw.

(breathes deeply) And when this side feels complete, when you're ready, head returns to neutral. Feet step onto the earth. As the knees come back to the bend, returning the knees to the left side, as the right hand slides out, and then turn the palm open, pause here for a moment, for that sense of, hah, release. As we return the knees to center, go ahead and let both the palms open to the sky as we release the legs to long. Take a little wiggle to the fingertips, spreading wide and then creating fists.

Wide, and then fists. And then the next time you hold the hands in fists, just circle the wrists around and release any tension that builds up in the wrists or the forearms. And then let the arms relax. Get comfortable through the head and spine. Softer into the mouth.

Releasing all of the effort. As we allow ourselves to completely let go. And giving yourself as much time as you need here to rest, before waking up with wiggles and stretches, reaches and yawns. Eventually bending the knees, rolling back to your side, pausing there tenderly for a few breaths. And when you get the green light, pressing up and into a comfortable seat.

Allowing the hands to come to the heart center. And then allowing the head to bow towards the heart. Taking a moment for both gratitude as well as humility. Thank you for joining me. Namaste.


2 people like this.
Another winner. Thanks Kari.
1 person likes this.
Thank you, Your class was inspirational, relaxing and simply one of the best I have taken. From start to finish a joy
Thank you so much Judy and Jennifer!! I am so happy to be on this journey with you both! Xo Kari
1 person likes this.
Kari your journeys are always so rewarding. I really enjoy how you express how my body should be responding as we move thru the practice - very helpful
1 person likes this.
Excellent for listening the neck and upper spine, thank you!
Thank you Dannette and Tara! So happy to be practicing with you! Xo Kari
Ooooo, that felt great! Thanks Kari! ❤
Thanks for joining me Erica! Xo Kari
1 person likes this.
One of my favourite practices yet! Exactly what I needed - my muscles were on fire today from yesterdays practice with my yoga teacher. This was just the right pace and so relaxing. Thank you! x
Awesome John Jackson ! Hope to practice with you again soon! xo Kari
1-10 of 30

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.