Now we turn to a variety of exercises and postures that in one way or anoth closely relate to the shoulderstand and plow series. Some of them strength' i the neck and others pamper it; some prepare you for the formal postures a I others counteract their stresses; and often the same exercise confers m< than one of these benefits. The threading-the-needle and knee-to-ear pot ; are good training tools for both the plow and the shoulderstand, limbering t e upper body to prepare you ior the plow, and accustoming you to stress in I' e cervical region. The arch and bridge are also excellent training postures wh i i can either be used in preparation for the shoulderstand find plow or as folk up postures, along with the fish, to provide counterstretches for e back. We'll end with yoga nidrasana, the last posture before embarking n relaxation and meditation poses in chapter 10, and a supremely comfort;, e forward bend for those who can do it without stress and strain.
resistance neck exercises
In chapter J we looked at neck exercises in which you simply take the h< d through its full range of motion, differentiating among the movements t it are possible between the cranium and Ci, between Ci and C2, and betw n
Cz and Ti. In all such exercises minimal muscular activity is needed ui ¡1
you come to the end of the excursion, at which point joint and ligarm it restrictions permit no more than an isometric effort. Such work is use I, but it is even more effective to create some form of resistance to n< k movements from beginning to end, and this is the definition of resistai 'e neck exercises.
9. Till SHOIT DLRSTAM) 529
These exercises can be done at any time during the course of inverted postures. Doing them before the shoulderstand will prepare the neck muscles, joints, and ligaments for the unusual stresses and stretches to follow. They are also helpful after the headstand because that posture places a constant, isometric stress on the muscles of the neck, and the best way we can counteract that static condition is to challenge the muscles throughout their full range of motion. Use moderation, however, especially in the beginning. Although these exercises are safer than ordinary neck movements, it can't hurt to be cautious.
Ten resistance neck exercises will get you started. First press the right hand against the right side of the head and at the same time bring the right ear toward the right shoulder by tightening the muscles on the right side of the neck. Resist this movement with the right arm. Then slowly raise the head, still pushing with the hand and resisting with the neck. As soon as you reach the upright position keep going to the other side by pressing the left ear toward the left shoulder with the right hand, still resisting all the way with the muscles on the right side of the neck (fig. 9.16). Go from side to side as far as possible two or three times. Second, repeat the exercise from the other side with the left hand pushing against the left side of the head as the muscles on the left side of the neck resist. Third, bring both
Figure 9.16. This is the first of ten or more resistance neck exercises. Here the model is resisting lateral flexion of the neck and head to his left with his right hand. That is, he is pushing with his right hand and resisting with the muscles on the right side of his neck. This is followed by slowly pulling his head to his right as far as possible, still resisting all the way with his right hand. The movements should be done slowly enough that they have an isometric character. Number two in the series is done with the left hand, and the rest follow logically.
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