The most common area that people hold stress and tension is undoubtedly the neck, shoulders and upper back. If you need some comic relief, just take a look at the way some people drive with their shoulders up around their ears while they hold on to the steering wheel for dear life!
However, it’s not only moments of intense, accute stress that causes this reaction, but all the micro-movements in reaction to minor inconveniences and setbacks while we stare at computer and television screens.
In this how-to video, I demonstrate a trick for releasing tight and tense shoulders, as well as the neck and upper back. When exercising the arms, be sure to let the elbows go back more than to the side. The more they go back, the more you engage the shoulders and thereby open up the tissues (of course staying within two-thirds of your maximum effort). The release can be quite profound and, if practised regularly, can increase your range of motion.
More importantly, over time, the tissues can become so bound that they begin to cause and compound pressure on the vertebrae at the back of the heart. The more free and unristricted your internal organs are, the better they can operate. So it’s not just the obvious physical pain that limited range of motion that bound tissue can cause, but it can diminish your overall health and well-being.
Although I teach energy arts (qi gong, tai chi and bagua), where engaing the shoulder blades is a fundamental principle, you can incorporate it into any exercise programme. Within qi gong, I highly recommend the following exercises for the neck, shoulders and back because of their soft, gentle and repetitive motions:
- Circling Hands–the adjunct, beginners practice to Heaven and Earth Qi Gong, which I call “healing qi gong”.
- Tai Chi Circling Hands, which is particularly good for unwinding the tension in the neck and shoulders, as well as releasing the nerves.
Set the Right Intent: Developing the Four Skills of Meditation
Don’t forget that your mind’s intent is critical to the process. Do your best to tune into the four primary skills of meditation, so you can be more efficient and effective at anything to which you set yout mind!