The neck and throat as conduit of breath and voice represent a literal and metaphoric connection between how we move through the world and how we imagine it. Put a hand on your throat, over your voice box, or larynx. On an exhale sing a long “Hummmmm.” That vibration, power and energy is transmitted through your entire body not only when you sing and talk but even as you breathe.
The cervical nerve plexus, to which Vishuddha corresponds is closely associated with a neck muscle called the sternocleidomastoid, or the “SCM.” The SCM runs from the jaw, down to your collarbone and into your sternum. We’ll begin with two specific stretches to bring sensation and relaxation to this muscle. Remain aware of how you express your truth and creativity as you engage this practice. Sense how it feels to give voice to your thoughts, sensations and emotions.
During this practice, imagine an ice blue light suffusing the area around your voice box. On exhalation audibly, softly or silently repeat the syllable “ham,” pronounced /hum/. Ham is the seed syllable associated with the Throat Chakra; feel its vibration.
It is recommended to perform the warm-up before starting this routine.
Step 1: Neck Rolls
Duration: 5 repetitions
Pose Review: Easy Pose
Sitting with your legs crossed and your hips elevated on one or more blankets, first look from right to left and back, slowly, with your eyes open several times. Now, lower your right ear to your right shoulder without pressing or straining at all. Slowly as you exhale lower your chin to your chest, inhaling as you slowly draw your left ear to your left shoulder. Exhale your chin down toward your chest, inhale to the right.
Step 2: Side of Neck Stretch
Duration: 3-12 breaths on each side
Still sitting in Easy Pose, reach both hands out at shoulder height, then turn your palms out like you are pressing the walls away. Spread your straight fingers as you draw your shoulder blades together on your back. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Stay here for 12 breaths.
Exhale and lower your left hand and your left ear to your left shoulder, leaving your right arm extended and engaged. Stay here and breathe for 3-12 breaths.
Inhale both arms up, head to neutral. Exhale, repeat on the right.
Step 3: Downward Facing Dog
Pose Review: Downward Facing Dog
Reach your hands forward and bring your feet behind your knees. Turn your toes under and lift your hips. Allow your head to release toward the ground and draw your shoulders away from your ears. Lift the outsides of your armpits.
Step 4: Cobra or Up Dog
Pose Review: Cobra or Upward Facing Dog
Inhale and lower your hips as you draw your shoulders over wrists and lower your ribcage. Roll over your toes to the tops of your feet. If you can maintain core engagement with a happy back and remain with your hips elevated, take Up Dog. If you want to lower your hips to the ground, bend your elbows gently and take Cobra.
Step 5: Child’s Pose
Duration: 3-5 breaths
Pose Review: Child’s Pose
From Down Dog, lower your knees. Rest your forehead on the floor. Relax your neck and throat. Allow your mouth to fall gently open and your jaw to relax.
Step 6: Camel Pose
Duration: 3-5 breaths
Pose Review: Camel Pose
Walk your hands back and lift your hips above your knees. Join your hands behind back and lift your sternum as you draw up through your center. Reach your hands down behind and arch back through your upper back more than from your mid-low back as you press your legs and hips forward. If your hands reach your heels, take your heels. Lift your chin and open your throat to the degree you are comfortable.
Repeat steps 5-6 for another 5-12 repetitions, focusing on relaxing sensations in your throat and neck.
Step 7: Bridge
Duration: 3-12 breaths
Pose Review: Bridge Pose
Recline on your back and begin by drawing your knees into your chest and rocking back and forth a few times.
Place your feet on the floor, knees pointed to the ceiling. Exhale and lift your hips. Inhale, inflate your chest. Be mindful of keeping your natural curve in your neck and not flattening it at all, or tucking your chin, as well as not lifting your chin or exaggerating the curve.
On an exhale, join your hands behind your back and roll first one shoulder, then the other, under and away from your sternum. Maintain your knees over ankles and hips pressing up.
Step 8: Shoulder Stand
Duration: 5-25 breaths
Pose Review: Should Stand
From a supine position, press your elbows into the ground, draw your knees in and extend your legs up and overhead. Bring your hands to your low back and support it until your breath stabilizes.
Be mindful of keeping your natural curve in your neck and not flattening it at all, or tucking your chin, as well as not lifting your chin or exaggerating the curve.
Reaching up through your toes, slowly bring your hips over your shoulders until your shoulders, hips and toes are in a line perpendicular to the ground. Breathe with your chest, keeping your core muscles fully engaged.
Step 9: Plow
Duration: 5-25 breaths
Pose Review: Plow Pose
Lower your feet behind your head without lowering your hips toward your chest. Maintain long side bodies. Reach your hands behind you and bring your hand together with straight arms.
Step 10: Fish
Duration 5 breaths
Pose ReviewL Fish Pose
Unfurl through your core until your hips are on the ground. Bend your knees and bring your toes to the ground. Pressing your elbows into the ground, lift your heart up until you are balanced on your sitting bones and sacrum and reach the top of your head back to the ground. Reach your arms up.
Perform the relaxation sequence to complete this routine.