ZEN COVE by DINI YOGA 

 Mindful and balanced practice for everyone

YIN POSES FOR NECK RELEASE
by Dini Maharani Suskandi


The neck is the gateway to the mind and body. When our neck becomes tense, this will disrupt the flow of energy between mind and body, in this case the body and head. We may not realize that some of the tension are carried unintentionally throughout our daily life. Headaches and migraine are common amongst us. As the gateway between mind and body, it is important to bring awareness of spaciousness on our neck, so that we can support the integrity of mind and body to function in our life. 


Before getting into the practice here is a reference of muscles and their functions anatomically. 

 
 

NECK MUSCLES 


STERNOCLEIDOMASTOID

 

This muscle is also known for short as SCM. It runs  from Clavicle to the base of the skull. SCM is a superficial muscle. Its function is to help support the rotation, extension and flexion, and also lateral flexion of the neck. SCM works together with Scalene in supporting the respiration process.


SCALENE


Scalene originates from the mastoid ( the base of the skull) to the Clavicular. There are three parts muscles of SCALENE. First one is Anterior part, and its function is to aid in rotation, flexion and lateral flexion. Second to Anterior is Middle part, its function is similar to Anterior, except it helps rotation from the bottom of the neck. The last part is Posterior, and its function is to assist flexion of the spinal column. This last one does not contribute in respiration process. When chin is up, Posterior muscles helps the extension of the cervical.


LEVATOR SCAPULAE


This muscle is positioned at the back of the neck. Levator Scapulae connects the head to the top of the Scapulae. Its functions are to assist elevation of shoulders, flexion and extension of the  cervical, and also lateral flexion of the cervical. When compressed, this muscles coming creates tension around the neck.


SPLENIUS


Splenius is located at the back of the neck. It  connects the base of the skull to the upper part of the mid spine. This muscle supports the neck in keeping the head upright. Its functions is to assist in rotation, flexion/extension as well as lateral bends. Splenius often time contribute in headaches and migraines.


TRAPEZIUS


Trapezius is a wide and big muscles across the back of the spine. It is located at  the bottom part of Cervical to the lower part of Thoracic (mid spine). Its functions are to assist stabilizing, rotating and moving the Scapulae, as well as  supporting in extension of the neck. This muscle is also common for neck pain that started across the top of the shoulder to the base of the neck. When the shoulders elevates without other supporting muscles to stabilize, there is a chance the muscles of the neck can get injured.

 

YOGA POSES


These poses are my favorite Yin stretches to bring space around the neck. Having a sturdy block also helps to create tension on the pressure points around the neck, in order to release muscular tension. With this practice, try to close and relax the eyes  so you can bring more awareness to what is going on with the body. This practice is best done in the morning to invigorate your day or at the end of the day to release tension. Start the practice with seated meditation for around 5 minutes to bring the awareness to the breath. 



  1. JANU SIRSASANA TWIST

Let the body face the bent knee. One hand next to the hip pressing onto the floor, other hand wrap the knee on the bent leg. Turn the head towards the shoulder of hand that is on the ground. Keep all side of neck on the same length. Keep spine lifted and top of head lengthen up. Collarbones stays open.  

This pose stretches the upper Traps, Sternocleidomastoid and Scalene.

 

  1. JANU SIRSASANA SIDE BENDS

Wrap the hand of the bent leg behind, start leaning towards the straight leg while keeping the body facing to the side (bent knee). Turn the head down facing the floor and let it heavy. 

This pose stretches Sternocleidomastoid, Splenius, Levator Scapulae and also Trapezius.

 

  1. GOMUKHASANA SIDE BENDS WITH ARM REACH or MODIFIED SEATED SIDE BENDS 

Depending on the hip, choose one that feels right on the seated position. If you are in Gomukhasana, lean to the opposite side of the leg that is being pinned down, . Drop the ear to the side where the body is leaned but keep the space between shoulder and ear. Reach one free arm up then lower it to shoulder height. Keep arm reaching to the side, then lower it half way down. Keep head heavy towards the leaned body. This is a great stretch for the Trapezius, Sternocleidomastoid and Splenius.


 

  1. BLOCK TRIGGER POINTS

Place block on a medium height right across the hairline behind head. Turn head to the right, then turn up 25% to hold around 1 minute. Gradually turn again 25% to hold another minute. Last turn another 25% for the last one minute. This block practice helps compress the trigger points of the Splenius, in order to release blockage on the connective tissue of the neck.

 

Most of the poses are held for 3-5 minutes, depending on yogi needs on finding space. I sometimes hold one side longer when I feel tightness on that particular one. 

 

HOW YOGA WORKS
by Dini Maharani Suskandi

Being flexible is what most people expect in becoming when they are in a yoga class. However, yoga is not about being flexible where you can twist and bend like a contortionist or gymnast. Yoga offers more than being flexible. It has lots of benefits more than we know. 


How yoga works for every body may varies, but the benefits are probably the same to all body type. Here are some of the reasons of yoga will do to your body:


1.   Flexible means going to the full range of motion in every pose. Flexibility will improve if we often move our muscles, bones and joints. Yoga stretches the tight muscles as we progress from poses to poses. The lengthening of the muscles will deepen our range of movement to the max. Gradually, the tight muscle will be loosened when we practice more yoga and our body will become more flexible. 


2. Yoga will also strengthen the bones. The stronger our muscles become, the stronger the bones will be and the lesser chances diseases like arthritis and Osteoporosis. Strength  builds up through muscles to help fortify bones. It will also keeps us away from having back pain or sciatica, and certainly will help our with our posture. With regular practice, yoga can correct or ail scoliosis and other spinal problems.


3.  Yoga is also good for our joints and connective tissues. Most athletes often get injured in these areas. Through proper stretches as in yoga, joints get nutrients in each movements. Joints also crave for movement to recycle the fluid inside the cartilage. More often the joints are being moved, the less chance it develops degenerative arthritis. Yoga practice like Yin, will help to lengthen the joints and ligaments as well as connective tissue. 


4. Yoga circulates the flow of blood in the body. Every time we move in each yoga poses, bloods circulate through the targeted areas. The flow oxygen in blood also get circulated through the integrating of breath and movement. This will decrease the chance of getting a heart attack and stroke. As we regularly move through poses, yoga can also get the heart rate going. Some vigorous yoga will level up the heart rate, while gentle yoga conditions the heart.


5. Yoga is good for the immune system. By increasing the metabolism in the body,  we boost the immune system. With lots of movement in the body and how the blood and oxygen circulate through the body, metabolism will increase automatically. A regular yoga practice will increase the metabolism rate and boost the immune system. As we move through the poses by stretching and contracting the muscles, the body will increase the drainage of lymph fluid, that usually absorb infections and diseases, and helps to waste the toxin in the body.


6.  Yoga helps fight stress and depression. With breath and being presence in yoga practice, it helps to alter the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) into parasympathetic nervous system which calms the body down. By managing to stay focus in present, we develop mental awareness, mental clarity and insight.


7.  Yoga is good for digestive system, respiratory systems and endocrine systems. Through wasting the toxin out of the body, we automatically increase the work on our digestive systems. By breathing calmly and staying focus on the breath work will increase the capacity of our respiratory systems. Yoga helps to improve the immune level in the body and assist the regulation of hormonal system.


There are numerous benefits we can find in yoga, in which you can find this out as soon as you start practicing. Stop looking at the result of the benefit, but experience it, so you can sow what you reap. Let the body and mind tell you what is good for your body and keep your yoga practice regular to maintain the benefits.


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