Inner Workings Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 7

Open the Neck and Shoulders

20 min - Practice


We explore the rotation of the shoulders to help us play more effectively in the delicate and magnificent landscape of the neck. The purpose is to become interested in the small details and in the relationships within. Kira sacrifices all self pride as she demonstrates the Wise Guy Stretch. The result is a new sense of spaciousness in the neck, arms, and hands.
What You'll Need: No props needed


Read Full Transcript

(waves crashing) Welcome back! So what we'll do now is we'll start to experiment with opening up a little bit through the channels of the shoulders, and the arms, and the neck. We've mostly been focusing on the hips and the feet. This is to try to create a more holistic understanding of these channels. So, we'll start in Tadasana, Mountain Pose. So, let your feet be about head distance apart, big deliberate inhale, exhale, let a ha happen and soften, so let your knees soften.

Let yourself feel grounded. And then, once you feel grounded, press into the feet enough so that your heart begins to feel generous. And as she feels generous, you'll know you've overdone it if it's hard at all in the lower mid back. So you let a little ha happen, and then let your mind feel light. Okay, what we'll do is we'll start to explore the rotation of the shoulders.

So, let your arms come out along the sides, soften the elbows so your shoulder joints are easy. And as you exhale, you're gonna let your shoulders roll forward, so you're widening your wings across the back. And as you inhale, you're gonna roll your shoulders back, you're gonna let your elbows drop under, so you're shoulder blades become an alter for your heart. Okay, so we'll continue, as you exhale, you're gonna round, let your knees bend a little bit, maybe even let your sit bones draw under, get big across the back of your body. And as you inhale, roll your shoulders back, maybe bend the knees and tip the pelvis forward, let the elbows draw under.

Okay, continue, so as you exhale, you get round, you're rotating your shoulders forward, you're letting your knees bend, and maybe even start to reach your arms forward. We tend to call this swamp monster, you know, so you're like 1930s, and then as you roll your shoulders back, you roll your pelvis forward, those should blades are drawing back and down, and they become an alter for your heart, we usually call this Hallelujah. Okay, handful more rounds together, so as you exhale, you get round, you're rotating your shoulders forward, and sometimes it feels good to like, oh, stretch open one side and stretch open the other. Okay, and as you're ready, you roll your pelvis forward, you draw your shoulders under and you lift up, Hallelujah. Okay, let's do that one more time together.

Exhale, get round. And then inhale, arch, nice. Now maintain the arch, or that's not quite true, maintain the shoulders rolling back and down as you press into your feet and let your arms come back down along your side. Big deliberate inhale, exhale everything, and then what usually feels good is to inhale, roll your shoulders up around the ears, get super hunched up in there, exhale (loudly exhales) drop. Inhale, roll the shoulders back and get super hunched up in there, and exhale (loudly exhales) drop.

And then what might feel also good is just interlace your fingers in front of you, turn the palms forward, soften the elbows enough so that the shoulders relax back and down and I'm gonna turn just so maybe you can see that better. So, what I mean is like if I reach my arms straight and my shoulder are hunching up and around my ears, it's not very comfortable, so if I let my elbows bend, and I let my shoulders relax back and down, then I maintain those shoulders back and down as I extend up through the arms and they may or may not go to straight. (softly mimics roaring) Lengthen. Kay, inhale here, exhale, release the arms wide, rotate the shoulders forward, hands come behind you, interlace wiggle, and then bend the knees, let the chest find the thighs, let the head drop. For most of you, this is pretty good, some of you might be inclined to roll your weight into the balls of the feet, draw your sit bones up a little bit.

And then you let your hands come back to the hips, let your hands relax, bend the knees, chin into your chest and slow roll back up. Feel the body, feel the heart, feel the throat, wah, and feel the face, nice. So that might be enough for you, just that little bit of opening though the shoulders and that exploration of the rotation, that might feel adequate, we're gonna continue and get a little bit more opening through the neck. Now the neck is an incredibly sensitive area, and so it's super important to be tender here. Okie dokie, promise?

Okay, inhale here and as you exhale, let your chin drop into your chest. Now, pause here and roll the shoulders back and down. Spread the toes a little bit, and I'm hoping that you can feel a stretch through the back of your neck and some of you, this might be the best place to stay. To start to feel a stretch in the side, you're gonna slowly start to let your right ear draw over to your right shoulder. Now, as you do that, you'll start to feel it through the left side of your neck.

And this, for most of you, will feel like enough. It's like, whew! Okay, to feel more, step two is to start to reach down through this left hand, so you become enthusiastic through these left fingertips, pinky, ring, middle, index, thumb, like, whew! Okay, now for most of you, this is enough, okay? But what some of you might choose to do, if it's appropriate to enhance here, and only if it's appropriate, you'll let your arm lift a little bit, elbow bent, and you'll add the detail of rolling your shoulder forward and rolling your shoulder back. So essentially, what you're doing is you're just kinda gently flossing in the shoulder because as your rotate your shoulder forward, you'll feel something very different, than when your shoulder's rolling back. Nice, maybe one more time?

For a total of three in each direction. Okay, now next time your shoulder's rolling back, maintain the shoulder rolling back, let the left ear kinda come back down toward, sorry, that's the right ear, let the right ear come back down towards the right shoulder. Chin rolls back and towards your chest, pause. And then so slowly, and press into the feet to help you, press into the feet to feel your heart brighten, to feel your throat open, to feel your face light. And just notice the results, that's a lot.

So, like, pause. Okay, and then only as you're ready, we'll find the other side. Chin will drop down into your chest, you'll rotate this left ear over to the left shoulder. You'll drop that left shoulder and then you're letting this right shoulder drop but you don't wanna get active in it until it's appropriate, this might be enough information. So, some of you are gonna stay right here.

Kind in the eyes, soft in the jaw. Okay, only if appropriate to feel more, you'll start to extend down through this right hand, down through the pinky, ring, middle, index, thumb, lengthen. Okay, and for some of you, this is definitely enough, this enthusiasm down through the fingers and you'll feel how different fingers have different actions. I mean, just like it matters which finger you're pointing at somebody, it matters which finger you're extending through, there's a very different experience between the middle finger, index finger, thumb, pinky, ring. Okay, some of you are gonna stay here, some of you are gonna choose to let that elbow bend a little bit, and you're gonna add the action of the shoulder rotation, you're gonna rotate that shoulder forward, you're gonna rotate that shoulder back, okay, and continue, and we'll do a total of three in each direction.

Move forward, and back, and I can feel, as I do this, I can feel that this side for me is just much stickier, it's also my stronger side, so often, your stronger side is often your stickier side. Okay, next time that arm is rolling back, keep her rolling back as you allow that chin to find her way back in towards your chest so slow, be so tender, pause, wait, and like literally wait for it. There'll be this moment, there'll be a moment where it's correct to continue, and you press into your feet and you'll feel your heart brighten, you'll feel your throat open, and you'll feel your face lift. Kay, this might be enough, you'll know it's working if you have a slight euphoria feeling. And all of this, I'm showing it standing up, but all of this can obviously be done in a chair.

Kay, I'm gonna show one more possible neck stretch. If this is already enough, you'll skip this next one 'cause it's a little more demanding. We call it the Wise Guy, you'll see why in a moment. So inhale here, exhale, chin drops down into your chest. Pause, feel the length of the back of the neck.

And then, only as you're ready, you'll roll this right ear back over to the right shoulder. Now, pause, let this arm get heavy, and this might be enough, otherwise, start to stretch down through this arm, and now the detail where it's different is you're gonna start to pull this bottom jawline up. It's like you're getting this lower length through the bottom jawline and if you're not sure, okay, just say, "You think I'm funny?" and if it sounds like that, you're doing it right. You're pulling up, you get this jaw stretched through the jugular. (lightly laughs) And this might be enough, from watching me, you don't find yourself like this very often, right? The only time you find yourself like this, right, is if you're like, "What's that under my neck?" Otherwise, if it's okay to add more, what you'll do, (lightly laughs) absolutely key to the life is to be willing to look like a fool, you'll add the rotation. (lightly laughs) You'll rotate this forward, you'll rotate this back.

And you can play a little bit, you'll see I can kinda come in and out of it, right? Like we can pull up again, and then come out of it. As you're playing with the extension, and the rotation. Okay, eventually, you'll find your way back, and now, to release, you've got to release that extension, let the right ear find her way back down to the shoulder, and then even more slowly, you're gonna roll your chin back towards your chest and you're gonna pause. And then you're gonna press into your feet and you're gonna let your throat open and you're gonna let your face brighten.

And there's this, sometimes, it's not a guarantee, but there's this wonderful euphoric feeling here, you guys, like this position, right, it's the position of rapture, this is incredibly vulnerable and so we don't find ourselves there. I'm just gonna enjoy this for one more moment and then we're gonna go to the other side. (lightly laughs) Kay, chin drops down into your chest, (lightly giggles) slowly, you're gonna roll that left ear over, and pause, and you know, this side is completely different for you, and so just because you did something on one side, doesn't mean you do it on the second side, like don't let the tyranny of symmetry burden you. Okay, so stay here, or only if appropriate, you begin to add the stretch. Okay, and it's literally, I mean, Bill Cosby once had this joke, like, "And then my wife pulled my bottom lip up "over the top of my head," it's like that, you're lengthening, like a guppy or a grouper. And this might be enough, okay.

If it's appropriate to feel more, you start to stretch down through this arm, so you have this and there's a lot of variety here, right? You'll notice that if you turn your chin a little this way, or a little this way, it's gonna change the whole thing! If appropriate to add more, you're gonna let this arm lift. And you can hear it in my voice, I'm coming in and out of it, 'cause if I'm here, you can hear my voice is more normal, and if I'm here, I sound more like Joe Pesci. So you rotate the shoulder forward, and you rotate the shoulder back, and rotate the shoulder forward, (lightly laughs) and rotate the shoulder back, I know my parents are super proud of me right now. Mom, Dad! (lightly laughs) Okay, and eventually, you're gonna relax this arm and so careful, you're gonna let this ear come back to the shoulder.

And then, so careful, you're gonna let the chin come back down towards the chest. Pause. And wait, you gotta wait, like that's a lot. That's an area that just doesn't get stretched so often and so, a lot happens, and so then, only as you get that internal little green light, and get good at waiting for the green light, things are much easier when you wait for the green light. Then you press and the heart blossoms and the throat opens, and the face brightens.

And just stay a moment, really sink that in. We only pay attention generally to our neck when she hurts. You know, people talk about their neck tension all the time, rarely do you hear people speaking of how awesome their neck feels. So take a few moments to enjoy when it feels really amazing. Okay, okay, and we'll do one more thing together but as a little thing in between, we'll again, we'll interlace the fingers, and we'll reach the arms up, release the arms wide, rotate the shoulders forward, hands come behind, interlace with the funny knuckle on top, if you remember (lightly chuckles) bend the knees, chest finds the thighs, head drops, arms reach up out and over, hands come back to the hips, release the hands towards the earth, and I like to keep my knees bent and then just roll it on back up, feel the belly and feel the heart, and then pause, like really press into the feet and really feel the heart brighten and the more you drag out this opening of the throat, the more pleasant it usually is.

So it's just like this vulnerable, soft, blossoming, and then the head just kinda like, boop! Finds herself. Okay, I'd like to do one more thing together in this lesson, just to again, tune to the magic of what we can't see. So now you've done all this opening in the throat, and down through the shoulders, and around the arms, and what the yogis say is that our hands are the extensions of the heart. And so just to kinda help know this magic in the hands. We've done this before in other segments, let's do it here.

So you're gonna reach your arms out, now soften the elbows, soften the elbows so those shoulders again roll back and down, and then reach, and really reach, pinky, ring, middle, index, thumb lengthen. Okay, then flex the hands, and as I flex the hands, I like to let my elbows bend again and I like to soften the shoulders back and down, and then I like to re-reach. For a long time, I kept using the word Repress. Not repress, re-reach, stretch out the pinky, ring, middle, index, thumb, pull the fingertips back. It might feel a little unnerving, it's okay.

Okay, curl the fingertips in, swan head stretch, like stretch through the wrists. Nice, okay, now release the fingertips back out, now turn the fingertips behind you, and then turn the fingertips down towards the earth and pull the fingertips in and extend. Gooey in the back of the neck, keep that sense of opening in the throat, pull the fingertips in, feel each finger. Okay, now curl the fingertips in, swan head stretch. Okay, now release the fingers back up towards the sky.

Last part now, soften the elbows a little bit, and then re-extend, and now let your eyes close or just focus softly in front of you, let the elbows bend, and now turn the palms to face towards each other, and now do your best here to let the hands feel soft, tender, sensitive, and as the hands start to come closer together, sometimes you can sense this sweet, gentle force. And as you might be able t sense this sweet, gentle force, the play is to know that this is you, soft, a part of you that isn't so obvious, and if you're not quite feeling it, what sometimes helps is if you essentially, like, fluff, fluff the prana a little bit, or tease the prana, let your hands come together and pull apart a little bit, and sometimes that helps. And as you're focused on this, if you're focused on this, just be aware of the resulting quality of the mind and of the breath. Yeah. Beautiful.

Okay, maintain this connection as you let your arms come down along your side. And with your arms down along your side, let the palms still feelful, feel that heart bright, feel your throat open, mind light. Feel the result of the result of opening up spots that are usually not touched. This is part of the practice, is like, how do we touch these parts of ourselves that we so often neglect, and how do we touch them with tenderness, sensitivity, and care? And we're finding that out together because this is a relationship.

Thank you for being here, thank you for your willingness to play along. Love.


Diane M
3 people like this.
Love this, so helpful to slow down and explore!
Kira Sloane
Diane, Love. Sweet to see you here. xok
Sherrie L
3 people like this.
Thank you for such a playful :) and fun approach with releasing stress from these areas.

Alexandra Kambler
Love it!! Neck and shoulder bliss. : )
Kate Smith
2 people like this.
Lovely cueing, Kira. L-O-V-E
Misty Eve Hannah
slow, tender continuous openings... loving this, thank you kira x
Kira Sloane
1 person likes this.
Misty! So happy to be together here.
Linda D
1 person likes this.
Really nice. My neck is happy:)
Tesa Urbonaite Dunn
Anna Perino
I can feel your tenderness right through the screen! lucky me!
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