Twisting in the neck could hardly be more natural, and can be safely t. .en to its limit, at least by anyone who is practicing hatha yoga regn rly. Possibilities for minor variations abound. If you twist as though you ere looking for a pencil in a drawer at waist level and to your right, yoi «-ill notice that this twisting movement includes lateral flexion to the right Yiid if you twist as though you were looking for an object on a shelf to your u'ht at shoulder level, the movement includes lateral flexion to the left. Fin. y, if you twist as though you were looking for an object above you and tc iur right, the movement includes? lateral flexion to the left, extension, and tw mg.
Now, minimizing flexion, extension, and lateral flexion, try a pure vist of the head to the right and then to the left. In other words keep your ¡ead level and envision an axis of rotation that runs from the top of the icad straight down through the spine. A moderate twist is a fine exercise, tt if you continue until you come to your limit and then keep pulling, y<> come in touch with a clear sense of axial compression. And if you iove slowly you can also feel tension gather in the various structures of tin ieck that finally stop the twist—first muscles, then restraining ligament and finally skeletal stops. If you can twist a total of 90° in each directioi the first 450 of the movement is the rotation at the synovial joint betwe 1 C1 and C2, and the rest is between C2 and Ti. Pay attention to all the sent ioruS that accompany the full twist, and explore new limits as you become con I lent that you will not hurt yourself. You will be startled to find how robu the neck is and how vigorously you can pull into a fuller twist if you inc ase your capacity gradually. And if you keep pulling isometric-ally whei y°u
7. n\ istikg poslimns iys reach the limit of the twist, you will increase both muscular strength and the hardiness of the ligamentous and skeletal structures. After working with each side separately, go sequentially from side to side.
other movements in the neck
Many other neck movements can be explored. One of the best is to twist the head 30", 450, or 6o° to one side, and from that position, to swing it back and forth linearly—right front to left rear, and left front to right rear. A less natural movement, and one that should be approached more respectfully, is to take the head and neck through the same linear movements without first twisting. Going forward at an angle feels safe enough, but going backward you will encounter the same sort of unusual restrictions that you experienced going to the extremes of lateral flexion.
Neck rolls, in which you swing the head around slowly in a motion that is similar to circumduction of the thigh or arm, are questionable exercises, and this is easy to demonst rate. Let's say you are looking down in your lap and suddenly your attention is called to a bat in the upper right corner of the room. You don't have to think. Your head will move quickly and safely in a straight line to face the object of your concern, and muscles and restraining ligaments will protect you from going too far. By contrast, if vou connect the two points with a fast neck roll instead of a linear motion, you will iinmediately see why such movements deserve to be treated with caution. Instead of moving linearly from a neutral position, you are circling your head around in a highly artificial movement. Even though most people are unconsciously wary of going anywhere close to their limit, these movements can still cause injuries in those who are doing them for the first time, and it is for this reason that many hatha yoga teachers say they should not be taught at all. In any event,, if you are determined to do them, at least move slowly and well short of your limits.
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