Friday, February 5, 2010

Yoga Journal Conference: Day 3, Session 1. Unwinding the Neck with Tias Little

Tias Little
Unwinding the Neck Tias Little - Course ID: M4LITTTherapeutic, Mixed Levels

Sunday, January 31 — 8:00am - 10:00am
Main Conference - Session 4
Neck pain frequently results in headaches, insomnia, jaw strain, and fatigue. We'll address the ways that neck tension is coupled with shoulder restriction and use nonforce techniques to unwind tension in the neck, particularly with spiral movements for the neck and shoulders. Practice and discussion.

Tias began with a brilliant dharma talk.  He translated "citta vritti" as "mind pain" and connected that our "pain in the neck" is really a pain in the mind.  The pressure of the mind gets lodged in our neck.

Referencing Zen Master Hyang's 3 essentials in practice:
1. Great Faith
2. Great Doubt
3. Great Perseverance of Effort

To miss one of the three is to have a stool with 2 legs.

Regarding Doubt.
Hyang means Big Doubt, not little doubt.
Little doubt is the small worry around being fat, or not good enough.

The temptation is to just live our life.
The suggestion is to step out of the routine of the self.
"By doubting, we are more free to be in the present moment."

Focus on what compels Us.
"Positive Doubting"

"When things are too precious, the neck is like china"
"Tyring to control our life, everything becomes brittle, vulnerable to strain"
"Stay loose in approach to the practice of life"

"Build the Witness"

"Nirodhaha is small stopping, not big stopping."

"Empty before we begin"
Expectations mount.

Tias has a wonderful command over the householder's burden and a tender ability to share the common stresses of daily life.

The Practice
We began Supine.
Taking Inventory of the impression our bodies were making in the earth.
Noticing the sides.  This was great.
"24 hour fundraiser" analogy.
I imagine that there are formal names for these movements and patterns, but I do not know ir remember them.

1. Neck Pressing
Gently tucking the chin and pressing the back of head towards floor for 5 seconds and rest.  Continue, repeating the pressing and resting.  Maybe about 10+ times.  Pace was relaxed and easy.

2. Neck Arching
Gently opening the front of neck to create cervical curve and pressing for 5 seconds and rest. Continue, repeating the pressing and resting.  Maybe about 10+ times.  Pace was relaxed and easy.

3. Head Turning
Turn head to side and press for 5 seconds, return to center and rest.  Repeat other side.  Continue side to side.  Maybe about 10+ times.  Pace was relaxed and easy.

4. Tailbone Awareness
Similar to what we do at Lulu's.  Starting with small movements in the tailbone, eventually drawing more attention to and enhancing the movements in the neck.  Slow pace, at least 2 minutes or so.

5. Abdominal Curls
Building off of the Tailbone and Neck Movements, Tias added the addition of the arms.  With hands wrapped behind head,  on the exhale, as the tailbone curls under, enhance the action with an abdominal curling up and elbows wrapping.  On the Inhale, enhance the action with opening of elbows and neck arch.  Repeat 10+ times.

6. Obliques
Same as above, but moving side to side.

Transition onto Backs

7. Bent Elbow Lift
Lying supine with Arms bent at elbows.  Inhale, lift one elbow off floor.  Exhale to lower.  Repeat, alternating sides. 

8. Arm Extension, and Neck Turn 
- Lying supine with Arms bent at elbows.  Bend left knee and keep left right straight.
- Start on Right Side.
- Begin by extending the arm over head on the inhale and bringing it back on the exhale.  Eventually add the turning of the head to look up at the hand on the Inhale and back center on the exhale.  
- Rest and set up and repeat for other side

9. Knee Twist
Still lying supine in the same shape, practice coordinating the drawing of bent knee across the body on the inhale and release back to starting point on exhale.  Do this many times on both sides.

10. Arm Extension, and Neck Turn and Knee Twist
Combine the movements from 8 and 9.  
So, as arm extend up over head, neck turns to look at arm and knee twists over to opposite side.

11. Wrapped Elbow Side Twist
- Lying supine, hold onto elbows and hold elbows in front of body.
- Draw elbows across the body side to side
- Add the turning of the head in the opposite direction, looking under your shoulder "for a small ant"

12. Big Forearm Circles
- Starting in the same position as above, hold gaze steady at the forearms.
- Begin to make circles with the elbows, following them with the eyes.
- Allow circles to get really big, over head and down towards the belly.

We transitioned towards a selection of familiar asanas to apply the neck truing movements.
I chose to sit and write out the above sequence instead.  So I was not paying very close attention.

I joined in at the end for the seated forward fold and final sit.

You can connect more with Tias at:

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