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.

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band aidOn the playground there can unfortunately be many accidents both big and small.  Often there is no ice or first aid immediately available.  This is a simple first aid visualization one can use to help soothe a child until (you) can get home.  Of course for major injuries call 911 or go to the hospital or call your pediatrician.  This is for minor injuries that require TLC (Tender loving care) and a band aid (aka boo-boo’s and ouchies:)

When there is an accident often for moments long after the actual incident took place, people are coming up to you with concern asking what happened?  Then you are forced along with your child to go over it again and again for them.  This keeps the child returning to that painful or scary incident and not moving forward into the healing.  I have personally observed this and actually heard one dad shout out ‘hey, call a plastic surgeon”.  He was of course using humor to alleviate the situation but it was a little brash for a three year old and her mom.

For an excellent explanation of why we instinctively rub on an injury(not an open wound) see below:

“In 1965 the “Gate Control Theory” was proposed by Melzack and Wall.  It explained the relationship between pain and emotion.  According to this theory, there is a hypothetical gating mechanism occurring at the level of the spinal chord- a “gate” through which pain impulses reach the lateral spinothalmic system.  Painful impulses are transmitted by large-diameter and small diameter nerve fibers.  Stimulation of large-diameter fibers prevents the small-diameter fibers from transmitting signals.  Stimulating (rubbing, massaging) these fibers helps to suppress the sensation of pain, especially sharp pain.  Many parents and small children seem to know this instinctively.  They rub the injured spot, thus activating large-diameter fibers.  These fibers also carry a faster signal.  In essence, massage sensations win the race to the brain, and the pain sensations are blocked out because the gate is closed.” Source:  Mosby’s Fundamentals of Therapeutic Massage by Sandy Fritz

Here’s a technique to use when you want to help your child move past the accident and feel empowered that they are on their way to feeling better.  Explain to them that they have teeny tiny microscopic helpers inside their bodies that are working right now to help them feel better.  Explain ‘microscopic” as so tiny that you can’t see them (it is very cute to hear them pronounce microscopic).  There are thousands even millions of them.  This gives them a positive image to hang on to if they are still replaying the initial injury and pain in their minds over and over.  This constant replaying of the accident can also be a reaction from well meaning people asking what happened and then having to explain it as your child relives “the spill”.  Now they can respond how they have microscopic helpers and feel more empowered.  It also gives them something positive to focus on rather than the accident itself.

Using our imagination to call upon imagery for healing is very powerful.  Remember that this is scientific.  Leukocytes (white blood cells) rush to an injured area to help heal it.  These microscopic helpers are in fact helping us on a consistent basis (unless there is a pathology wherein they are compromised).  In healthy functioning blood they are essential in recovering from injury.  This is a great first Biology lesson and may help them in connecting scientific principles to every day life.  Using this knowledge empowers the child by being able to answer back to concerned adults-“I have microscopic helpers helping me and I am feeling better and better.”  “Better and better” is a phrase used in the Silva Method of Mind Techniques.  This technique is extremely useful in helping to have tools to use our minds in positive and powerful ways.  See website for more info www.silvamethod.com.

Staying in the present moment is useful for anyone recovering from injury and replacing a negative experience with a positive image is very useful in returning to a stronger , more well-functioning place both physically and mentally.

Spine curveHow many times have you thought…I wish I had better posture? Maybe at one time you did have good posture, but with years of being slumped over a computer, gravity has pulled you forward. Maybe you noticed your reflection accidentally and gasped ” What happened to me!”…Or like me you may have suffered from scoliosis since birth and always had difficulty feeling comfortable and aligned. We feel guarded and are protecting our hearts when we roll our shoulders forward. Life’s trials and tribulations understandably can do this to all of us. This makes us give-in to low self-esteem, leading our physicality to display any anxiousness we may feel inside.

Well, after many years of searching I can honestly say I have solved a good deal of my discomfort and found ways to sort out my posture. I’d like to share with you one simple seated technique you can do in a chair that will help. You can practice this even at work-no one has to know what you’re up to!

Good posture should feel Good! Not stiff or uncomfortable. Dismiss the saying you may have heard in grade school: “SIT UP STRAIGHT!.” It is incorrect. The truth is the spine has curves (Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar and Sacral) Therefore, it only makes sense that we should align our posture in accordance with those curves.

Here’s the technique, which I call seated posture with coccyx bones pointed backward. (catchy title-I know). If you have Lordosis (sway back) posture this may not be the most effective technique for you. Feel your coccyx bones on the chair-they are the two bony parts under your bum! Most of us will sit on them pointing forward. Try arching your lower back a bit and have your coccyx bones pointing diagonally towards the back. Now feel how your spine stacks itself up on top of itself. Do you feel how your neck is in a better position? Try the old way with the coccyx pointing forward-you feel how your whole torso collapses onto itself and your neck jets forward? It is also more difficult to breath. Now try the new way-pointing those bones towards the back. There should not be too exaggerated of an arch of the spine. Feel your muscles support the spine. Now gently raise your chest up about an inch. This is referred to as “Heart to the sky.” Try it. Lift your heart to the sky. Now your chest is open and you have a better ability to breath. This position also feels great for the spirit! Gently look up to the ceiling, move your neck around a bit. This looking up will counterbalance constantly looking down.

Try this discretely next time you are in a meeting or an interview- you will feel so grounded and present because you are! It is very pleasant to be around someone in this state and you will probably get the job or the loan because you are solidly in your body not pretending to be confident. To pretend confidence is generally a turn off and a sure sign that you’re not secure. True confidence is presence and awareness-ability to roll with the punches/take what comes your way with dignity.

The position should feel relaxed and natural. This will probably happen more as you get used to it. Eventually you will be able to use it in standing and than in walking. Remember, Heart to the sky (and feet on the ground).  Most importantly, this technique can greatly improve your posture.

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.