Originally appeared in
Earth Star magazine December 2005/January 2006
Rosemary Gaddum Gordon, D.B.O., M.A.
Most people with vision issues have necks that feel tight or “out”. After a massage, a visit to the chiropractor or yoga class many of us notice we’re seeing better. When the neck is tight less blood and chi can flow up to the brain and eyes. If a vertebra in the neck becomes misaligned it can cause pain, which often reduces vision. When we are sitting for a long time at the computer, or speaking on a cell phone, or driving while talking to a passenger, it is easy to lose our good posture and strain our neck muscles. Bringing our awareness to the neck and developing its flexibility can help us both prevent problems and improve our vision.
There are three basic movements that the neck makes and here are three simple ways to stretch in each of the directions. You can do these stretches while sitting or standing. They do not need to be done in sequence or all at the same time. Feel the muscles stretching but do not push. If you feel pain, back off from the desired position, breathe and wait for your muscles to lengthen at their own pace.
Rotation: The Owl (adapted from Brain Gym)
Place your right hand on your left shoulder, near the neck. Push your fingers into the trapezius muscle _ it’s the one that generally feels tight or sore back there _ and relax both shoulders. Now, inhale as you look straight ahead and as you exhale, turn your head like an owl to the left, aiming your chin so it might be parallel with your shoulder. As you turn, move your eyes so they are looking over that shoulder. Notice, without straining, how much you can see behind you. As you inhale, turn your head to face forward again. Wait for the inhalation to finish and then, as you exhale, turn your head to look over the other shoulder. Look behind you as before. Repeat this sequence three times then on the final exhalation bring your chin towards your chest to end. Now repeat with your left hand on your right shoulder.
Extension and Flexion: The Yes
Make sure your shoulders are down and relaxed. Inhale as you look straight ahead. As you exhale, drop your chin to your chest. As you inhale, bring your chin up towards the sky, but not so far that your shoulders come up or that your nose goes past the zenith. Make sure there is no strain anywhere. As you exhale bring your chin back to your chest. Repeat three times or as needed.
Side Bends: The Ear to Shoulder
Keep the face forwards during this whole stretch. Inhale and as you exhale let your head tilt so your ear is directly above your shoulder. Do not turn your head. Your ear won’t ever touch your shoulder, so don’t push and keep them both down. Just let gravity do the pulling. Rest in that position as you complete a full inhalation and exhalation, relaxing into the gentle stretch. Straighten your head with the next inhalation and then let your head tilt so your other ear goes towards your other shoulder. Wait again for a full breath and then return to the center and repeat three times or more.
Enjoy your freer neck and notice how your shoulders and eyes feel better too.