clock neck exerciseStretching the neck muscles can be challenging and confusing.  Here is a simple, centering neck exercise that can help alleviate neck pain.  It is called “The Clock.”  This is the same pattern of movement as used in the article entitled, Computer Eye Strain Exercises.

Lay on the floor in supine position (face up) on a yoga mat or towel.  You want the surface to be firm but not too hard.  First, feel the muscles of your head on the ground beneath you.  The floor will be your guide as you move through the exercise, so maintain contact with it without too much effort.  Also,  you will be gently massaging these muscles via the pressure on the floor as you move through this neck exercise.  Make sure your head is in good alignment.  Your neck should not be flat on the floor and your chin should not jut out.
Look up and imagine a large clock above you. Now move your head up towards the twelve and then down to the six slowly three times. This will mimic the “yes” movement.  Now, move your head from the three to the nine three times slowly. This will mimic the “no” movement. You can use your  nose as a guide. Remember to maintain contact with the floor beneath you. Now you can hopefully sense your neck in a more centered alignment. Maintain this centered feeling for the rest of the exercise because you will want to return to it as your reference point for these next steps.
Next you will do the opposite diagonal movements of the clock. Look up at the one and down at the seven three times slowly. Place the one right next to the twelve and the seven right next to the six. This will be a more specific stretch. Next do eleven and five o’clock again, imagining them right next to the twelve and the six on your clock. Pause in the center as mentioned before.

Read More →

On the virtue of slownessThe creation of the Slow Movement is refreshing.  It’s great to hear it told from the perspective of a self-proclaimed recovered “speedster!”  In this video, Carl Honore explores the concept of slowness and the many virtues of slowing our pace and connecting with our own inner-tortoise!

Journalist Carl Honore believes the Western world’s emphasis on speed erodes health, productivity and quality of life. But there’s a backlash brewing, as everyday people start putting the brakes on their all-too-modern lives.

source: http://www.ted.com

In this new age of computer screens and Blackberries, our eyes are forced to undergo a whole new adaptation to decipher and process digital information. The nature of computer screens themselves present a vision challenge. Computer images are not solid characters since they’re made up of pixels, which makes focusing on them difficult for the human eye.

Here are two exercises that can help relieve tired, sedentary or strained eyes. There are six external muscles of the eyes. They are: Superior, Inferior, Medial and Lateral Rectus, and the Superior and Inferior Oblique muscles. Just as we need to stretch our hamstrings or our gastric muscles, it is equally important and worthwhile to stretch our eye muscles. It feels good too. You will probably want to do this one alone or with people that know you really well-since you might look pretty crazy while doing it!

Procedure one: Counterbalancing eye strain for the external muscles of the eye:

Imagine a large clock in front of you. Look up to the TWELVE. Now down to the SIX. Do this movement three times slowly. Now look to the THREE and then over to NINE. Repeat three times slowly. Next, do ONE and SEVEN. Three times slowly. Now, ELEVEN and FIVE. Yes, three times slowly. TWO and EIGHT. Three times slowly. Lastly, do TEN and FOUR. Three times slowly. When you have completed the whole cycle move your eyes in a clockwise circle three times slowly and then counterclockwise three times. Now, rub your hands together fast to warm them up and cup them gently over your eyelids.

Notice the interesting sensation when you do the diagonal movements. These muscles are not used as often(unless you are a frequent eye-roller:-) and its good to activate and get circulation to these areas of the eyes. You may notice more of your periphery (side vision) as this is a good way to enhance it.

Procedure two: Counterbalancing eye strain for the internal muscle (the Ciliary) which controls near and far vision.

The constant close proximity to our computer screens does not give our eyes the chance to use the long distance focus as often as we probably should. Get outside and look at a far distant point and give this muscle a chance to shift into far focus.

This heightening and care of your senses leads to a more tactile awareness overall. Our eyes receive and are at times even bombarded with so many images. These exercises should help in giving them some much needed relief. As with all of these exercises they are meant to promote good health. Please see your eye doctor for regular checkups and any issues.

dynamic stillness

Many people say “I can’t meditate!  “I get too antsy” or on the other hand “I fall asleep!”  It is very challenging to sync up our bodies and our minds so we can simply BE and then Feel and Listen.  Once, when I wanted to describe this blissful feeling I felt during a Cranial Sacral therapy session so I could describe it,  the term Dynamic Stillness came to me as a perfect way to describe that feeling.  When we can put words to feelings and emotions there is a great relief that resonates within our being-to simply be perceived and heard.  I quickly Googled Dynamic Stillness and amazingly another Cranial Sacral therapist came up with the same name for the feeling achieved.  I felt glad and annoyed that my original epiphany had already been conceived!  Being in a dynamically still state is as I said  very blissful.  It is where the greatest healing takes place and where a space for clarity is/lives on many levels-body, mind, spirit

Many people experience this feeling after yoga while laying  in Tadasana “corpse pose.’  They are feeling the circulation of all their channels while laying still.  It is restful and replenishing.

Many of us lost the skill (if we ever had it) of truly listening.  Often we re-frame things/situations to understand them from our minute experience of how it relates to us.  Have you ever been in conversation with someone and  they are constantly saying “oh, that’s just like the time I…”; or “that’s like me I….”  While they may be trying to connect to you and what you are saying to their frame of reference, it often feels like they are just pulling everything back to themselves and their experience rather than engaging in the present moment with you in your current relationship together.

Being in this state opens us up to truly listening to others.  If we are able to give this gift to ourselves we are then better able to hold a healing presence for others.  Presence is just that, pre sence.  We feel each other all the time even before words are spoken or if they ever are.

When we get still and inside our bodies and listen to what messages it is sending us, we may hear “my lower back aches”  then we stretch it-preventing a myriad of back issues in the future.  Our neck may ache-maybe it is telling us “I need a new chair at work” or “I have some unresolved issues to communicate to a co-worker”.  Sometimes we don’t want to hear the message, but it is better to face it than to deny its existence.  You will avoid bigger issues later and clear the way for new openings and opportunities that will have more conscious and harmonious realities for you!

So, how do we become Dynamically still?  There are many different ways and no one way is best.  As it is said, “the paths are many-the truth is one.”  As I mentioned certain forms of yoga can certainly get you there.  Not all classes and teachers are equal.  I have even found some videos that work amazingly.  I use the Silva method of mind techniques.  Their workshops are very reasonably priced and have been around a long time.  Jose Silva was a pioneer in positive thinking techniques.  His is a very practical and sensible method.  You can find classes at Silvamethod.com.  Again, some teachers are better than others so you may want to speak to the instructor before signing up to make sure you are in some kind of synchronicity with them.  This technique helps to quiet the mind and calm the body so you are more able to focus on mentally imaging your goals ranging from financial to health concerns and other beneficial things we all desire in life.  I have personally known people who have benefited from this technique with issues ranging from quitting smoking to insomnia.  It is stated very clearly that “one’s increasing mental faculties are for serving humanity better…”

Another way is to have some body work done be it massage, Cranial sacral therapy etc.  It is helpful to have a form of meditation to calm your mind while receiving the work so that it doesn’t start making lists of things you need to do! Simply counting down from 100-1 or focus on a color or a beautiful landscape can get you there.  I like to focus on the body part the therapist is working on so I can put good intention to it.  You can also imagine the ocean tide coming in as you gently breath in and flowing out as you exhale, gently bringing renewable energy and washing away any negativity or stagnation.  Just make sure you’ve gone to the restroom before you use this image as imagining any form of water can definitely make you want to go!

When you feel “Still” ask your body if there is any area where it needs some attention or where it is holding tension.  Ask what it needs and if it has a message for you.  Maybe your feet just don’t want to be in those heels anymore!  Listen to them-they may be saving you a lot of heartache in the long run.

Dynamic Stillness is calm and present.  Relaxed yet able to respond.  Think of it as sitting in honey (but able to breath)  you would feel supported and slowed down.  Gravity would be less weighing you down because you are lifted by the viscose sensation of the honey.  It is a bit dreamy.  we are so tough on our bodies for a great part of our lives that it is so vital to be able to treat them with kindness and empathy to balance out any ill effects that are lingering there.

For example,  a good way to communicate with many systems of the body is by closing your eyes and tuning into a particular system.  Imagine the blood flow circulating back to the heart as you breath in oxygen imagine that flow bringing healthy oxygenated blood to all the cells of your body.  You can do the same for your nervous, digestive and endocrine systems.  It helps your visualization to know a basic amount of anatomy which you can easily look up on line or for great drawings view Netter’s Anatomy.  He was a Doctor and illustrator who gave us all a gift with his illustrations of the human anatomy.

By tuning in to the body’s dynamic stillness you are acknowledging one of the most incredibly and fascinating traits imaginable-HOMEOSTASIS.  Homeostasis is our bodiy’s ability to constantly monitor and make adjustments to our needs, be it sweating, crying, enzymes for digestion and on and on!  Imagine how many constant exchanges are going on in your body at every moment.  As you are reading this in a somewhat still state your body’s systems are very active.  It is defined in Webster Dictionary as “a relatively stable state of equilibrium or a tendency toward such a state between the different but interdependent elements or groups of elements of an organism, population, or group.”  Our goal in maintaining good health, I believe, is to support homeostasis at its optimal level.