About two years ago, I woke up with a kinked neck. It was so tight that I couldn’t look to my left or right more than a few inches. I initially thought I’d slept wrong and the problem would fix itself in a day or two. Weeks later, I was still in terrible pain. I tried massage, chiropractic work, and physical therapy, all of which helped some but never fully healed my neck.
Soon after my physical therapy work, I learned the importance of giving my body daily attention in the form of physical exercises to help keep it healthy and limber. Our bodies were not made to sit in front of a computer screen for 4+ hours a day, which many adults do (myself included). So, to make up for the lack of movement, it’s important to make sure we’re clearing out the fuzz (if you don’t know what I mean by that, I highly suggest watching this 5 minute video on fascia and stretching). Our bodies were made to be gathering food, walking lots, and climbing trees, not sitting all. dang. day.
I try and do these yin poses before I go to bed each night. When I do, I feel an incredible improvement in any neck or back pain I’m experiencing and much more all-around mobility.
Let’s get into it!
1. Child’s Pose. Five breaths. Presence.
2. Cat & Cow
Cow – Exaggeratedly arch your back and gaze upward, opening up the abdominal wall.
Cat – Exaggeratedly round back, opening up the shoulder blades, gaze toward mat.
Repeat three times, following your breath.
3. Gentle Hip Swings
Exaggeratedly push hips out to the left side of mat, then circle around to the right side of mat.
Repeat slowly three times. Breathe.
4. Lizard Pose
Place right foot at top right edge of mat. Stay here if this feels like enough on your hip flexor. Option to drop down onto forearms on the inside of right foot. Five breaths.
5. King Pigeon Modification
Bend left knee slowly as you bring it towards body and reach back with your right arm to catch left toes. This is a deep hip flexor and quad stretch, so take it slow. Three breaths.
6. Gentle Calf & Hamstring Stretch
Release left toes. Turn body back towards top of mat. Straighten right leg as you lean over right knee. Lean with your chest. Five breaths.
7. (Repeat Steps 4-6 on Left Side)
8. Child’s Pose Side Stretch
Walk hands out off the right side of your mat. Place your right hand on top of your left. Relax into your left side body. Breathe.
Switch sides and repeat.
9. Hip Flexor Release
Lay on tummy with right cheek on the mat and arms out in cactus shape. Bend knees and gently drop feet over to the right, then gently over to the left. Repeat this slowly for ten breaths. Lift your head and place your left cheek on the mat. Repeat slowly for ten breaths.
10. From tummy, bend right knee and slowly bring right foot towards the ground near the outside of the left hip. If comfortable, place right foot flat on the floor. 5 breaths.
Switch sides. 5 breaths.
11. Plow Pose / Halasana
(If you have neck problems, skip this pose)
Roll onto your back gently and softly hug each of your knees into chest to release lower back.
From your back, begin to lift both legs into the air while curling lower back off the mat. Bring elbows by sides and place heel of hands on lower back for support. You should be creating a shelf support for your body with the weight on your arms and upper back/neck. The full posture is to have your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your toes (you’ll see I’m not all the way straight, so listen to your body and only go as feels good).
Slowly begin to hinge at the hips as toes release towards the top of mat. If toes touch the top of the mat – great! If not, great! Just hold and breathe for five breaths.
Slowwwwly bring legs back up and, with control, lower all the way down to the mat.
12. Bridge Pose
Walk heels in slightly towards your butt and, with knees pointing straight forward, lift hips towards sky. This opposing pose counteracts what we just did in Plow pose, and should feel releasing and relaxing.
Lower your hips down slowly.
Option to repeat steps 11 and 12 once more.
13. Hug Knees to Chest
Rock from side to side, massaging lower back.
14. Supta Baddha Konasana (laying down butterfly)
Lie down onto back and place bottoms of feet together. Five breaths.
Lie down on back with all limbs completely relaxed, palms facing slightly upward. This is the final resting pose.
Enjoy a restful night of sleep 🙂
If you try this out, I’d love to hear from you (feedback, thoughts, comments, questions)! Feel free to drop a comment below.