Know Your Neck
The NECK 'Roll the head side to side, notice the freedom, feel any restriction. Is it even as you move right to left?'
Compression and restriction in the neck can have a global effect on the body. Sensors in the neck link to an area in the brain stem called the Locus Coeruleus which is responsible for detecting and responding to stress. When it's detected it signals the neck muscles to tighten ready to look for the threat. When the neck muscles are tight it tells the brain we're stressed or in danger. We can get stuck in this cycle of mis-information and tight muscles.
Neck tension can lead to reduced blood flow to the brain, aggravation and compression of nerves, migraines and headaches, it may cause whole body skeletal and muscular imbalances and misalignments, hormone imbalances, dysfunction of organs and physical and emotional pain.
The occiput (skull) and the sacrum (base of the spine) have a strong connection 'Craniopelvic resonance' meaning that what happens at one end may be experienced at the other. So a bang to the back of the head may be felt in lower back or a fall on the sacrum may cause neck discomfort. Sitting, sleeping and bad posture can contribute to these issues.
As well as many other nerves the Vagus nerve passes through the neck. The vagus nerve assists us in relaxation and is stimulated by deep exhalations...YOGA...and is why you always feel super relaxed at the end of class! If the vagus nerve is compressed it is unable to perform efficiently. When we are stressed we tend to live in a world of shorter breaths resulting in us not having the opportunities to stimulate the vagus nerve and the chance for the nervous system to restore balance.
Being mindful of this in and out of the studio, regular breaks, stretching and some deep breathing is a great way to relieve stress.