Freestanding

Finding the Right Balance

There’s a problem I face when developing a new workshop: I don’t know exactly how much material to put in. Typically, I get excited and create too much. Fortunately I’m experienced enough to calibrate how much I can teach in a workshop as I go along.

Still, I get attached to the sequence of poses I’ve created, to having it flow seamlessly and to being able to include interesting variations.

I ran into this too-much-material problem when I was teaching a new workshop called ‘Yoga: A Lifelong Companion’ at The Yoga Shed in Richmond, NSW this last weekend. There was a great group of yogis in attendance. I felt they were asking questions and pulling information out of me. But, I ran out of time for presenting several therapeutic poses that are good alternatives to doing inverted poses.

How in the Heck Can I Save My Neck?

Luckily I have the opportunity to include these poses here in this post. And, perhaps some of the workshoppers will find their way to them on this blog.

These are variations of poses that I learned from Donald Moyer’s excellent book Awakening the Inner Body.

  1. Setu Bandhasana with a roll under C7 is a bridge pose variation that can serve as an alternative for Sarvangasana (shoulderstand). It’s especially good for people like me who have a flattened cervical curve or even for those who have have a reversed curve. This pose is also a handy preparation for shoulderstand.

Here’s the equipment set up: a blanket folded in three lengthwise, a tightly rolled face cloth and two foam blocks. IMG_2878

 

Simply lie on the folded edge of the blanket with your neck supported on the rolled face cloth which is under C7 and T1-T3. Then, you lift up your hips and place the blocks under your lower sacrum.

Maintain the position for 3-5 minutes. The rolled mat takes the weight off your neck and supports the release of your shoulders.

 

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2. Setu Bandhasana with a neck roll is a therapeutic pose if you have a neck problem or a flattened or reversed cervical curve.

To do this pose, set up your equipment with a long double-folded blanket on top of your mat and a triple-folded blanket placed about 10 cm from the edge of the first blanket. Then, you place a tightly rolled sticky mat right at the very top and cover it with a face cloth so that your skin or hair doesn’t stick to the mat. 

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Lie on your back with your pelvis resting on one end of the lengthwise blanket and your shoulder blades flat on the crosswise blanket. The rolled mat is directly under the middle of your neck and the base of your skull.

Stay for 3-5 minutes. This particular pose helps if you suffer from headaches, asthma, or sinus problems as it releases the muscles and the base of your neck.

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Note: If you are a teacher, you can offer these poses to students who, for whatever reason, can’t do headstand or shoulderstand.