Stretching 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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shopping for your baby
As new parents awaiting your baby’s arrival, it can be a very nerve-wracking experience with all the medical aspects and decisions surrounding the birth itself. That should be all you have to worry about…but it isn’t… now it’s time to hit those mega baby stores and embrace your little bundle of joy with lots and lots of stuff!
The amount of manufactured products around the whole baby business is so overwhelming, it can make your head spin. I walked in and out of a mega-baby product store four times before I bought anything. The amount of choices alone paralyzed my decision making process. Add to that being pregnant with “baby-brain”. I felt extremely overwhelmed. Finally on our fourth trip, we bought a bathtub. My husband had such a headache from the noise and lack of oxygen in those places I promised him we would do the rest online! Soon,we became masters at finding great baby products online with free shipping! A simple Google search along with the keyword free shipping will save you time, money and headaches. There are also many sites that offer free coupons to most if not all baby product companies.
At a very personal and special time in one’s life, it is normal to feel overwhelmed by all this materialism. As the due date was approaches, you are suddenly thrust into a world of shopping that you probably never new existed. Sometimes there are certain feelings of guilt in not being overjoyed by the shopping experience. Fortunately, you are not the only one who might feel this way.
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The practice of Yoga has gained an immense popularity over the last few decades. There are classes in gyms everywhere in small rural areas to cosmopolitan centers. Among the benefits of participating consistently in a well instructed class are good alignment, improved breathing and more spiritual connection (alignment through the Chakra system). This last part is often forgotten or completely overlooked because yoga is often represented as simply another form of exercise. Yoga means path or way. The practice of the Asanas (poses in yoga) are meant as a way to connect to one’s center, to source energy and spirit. Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice that effects your body, mind and spirit by practicing balance, strength and focus as we connect to the chakra system. The words Yoga and Chakra were taken over by a flighty new age perspective at one point -it is important to reclaim them as they are refreshingly structured and grounded. They are concepts that have been around for thousands of years and for good reasons.
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It is important to be in tune with our bodies. They send us important messages constantly that let us know our inner truth and can also help prevent illnesses. Ever feel “butterflies” in your belly? Perhaps you feel a “lump in your throat” at certain times. You may think of a particular person as a real “pain in your neck.” These sensations are real and when listened to can help us tune into our true wisdom and instincts about many situations. These physical sensations can help in listening to your inner voice.
A great way to really be present with ourselves and others is simply to be grateful. Gratitude helps us acknowledge what we have instead of constantly focusing on what we want. Being grateful can feel incredibly full and truly content. It is one of our most blessed feelings and is often overlooked. How can we ever enjoy what we achieve and have if we cannot know what it is to feel grateful? Without gratitude there is greed. Feeling gratitude helps us connect to the present moment and this in turn helps in listening to your inner voice.
Here is an exercise in acknowledging your feet! Why should we acknowledge our feet? There are a multitude of reasons: our feet have been with us since before we are born and so has the rest of our body including our organs, our circulatory systems and every other system of our body (all the reflex points for the body are on the feet). They have been your comrades since before birth through grade school until now. Hold one of your feet and say, “Hello foot and thank you.” Try it! It sounds very silly- I know. I mean it…look down and say, “Hello feet-thank you for carrying me around all these years!”* “Hello feet and thank you!” Now, don’t you feel more present with them and in general? The simple silliness of it helps us feel good. Even if you felt uncomfortable with your body-it has been there with you. By thanking it you are acknowledging your body and yourself, flaws and all. Forgiving our bodies imperfections and cradling it by sending it positive messages goes a long way in strengthening the body-mind connection. How can we truly feel connected in body-mind and spirit without love and acknowledgment of all three? They are all a part of listening to your inner voice.
Practicing gratitude on a regular basis will strengthen one’s connection to one’s inner wisdom. A great meditation to practice as you are falling asleep (or anytime) is to go through the whole body from feet to your scalp, acknowledge and thank it for helping you. If there is a place that needs extra attention say for example lower back or neck and shoulders ask if they need something. Using your imagination you can help facilitate your bodies own healing wisdom. Our bodies are sending us messages all the time. We need to listen and then take action. Please see my article, Dynamic Stillness for more information on how to achieve this.
So, go ahead, say “hello” to your feet and thank them! Sometimes silly things are the most sensible of all.
*If one does not have the use of one’s feet this is a positive tool for connecting to the feet or any part of the body.
These meditations above will help in listening to your inner voice.