A Pain in the Neck

Pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders are common complaints I hear from my colleagues. We teachers sit for long hours either drawing up our lesson plans over the computer or are pouring/marking piles of homework.
After being in this profession for a number of years, I started to develop stiff neck and shoulders as well. I enjoy a good shoulder and neck massage occasionally but will hear the masseur lament, “Oh my, you neck/shoulders are so stiff!’ I cringed when hubby tries to massage away the stiffness as sometimes they simply hurt too much.
At my worst, my neck muscles along the back of my neck have become weak and overstretched.  I wonder whether they can still perform their primary function of maintaining the neck in a neutral position.  The lack of support to the head then resulted in a multitude of negative physical symptoms, like tension headaches.
Worse still, in this tech savvy age, people like me tend to look at our little gadgets at every free moment, still bending forward, our neck is always in a bending forward position, so much so that our chin is almost at our chest.  We all live in a world filled with anxiety. We race through hectic days and fall into bed exhausted; we fret over our bills, our kids, our jobs and the state of the planet, too. It doesn’t help that many of us have lives skewed toward the sedentary, with too many hours spent hunkered down behind a computer or steering wheel. Our stress often winds up stored in clenched necks, shoulders, and backs—which eventually weakens our muscles, strains our joints, and limits our range of motion. The tension hangs heavy on our necks and shoulders.
How Yoga helped me
It hit me as a surprise the other day, when hubby tries massaging my shoulders and I did not feel any pain. He was surprised too. He continued by exerting more pressure and commented, “Hey, the tightness is gone!” I shrugged my shoulders and true enough, I haven’t been plagued by the tension in the shoulders for a long while!
I realised that passive relaxation exercises are beneficial to me. These poses give me a taste of ease and comfort, a touchstone experience that I can refer to again and again as you progress into more active exercises and challenging yoga poses. Relaxing deeply is a sanctuary, yet few of us allow ourselves to enter it. It feels so good that you’d think it would come easily, but many of us are so accustomed to tension that we have to relearn the natural process of letting go.
I guess the backbends, the Salambhasana, Sarvangasana, Upward Facing dog poses have indeed helped me build stronger muscles around my shoulders! I am glad I found a relief in Yoga!
Fiona Lai
200hr Weekends (Jul – Oct)
Yoga Remedies for Everyday Ailments – Yoga Journal