Transform “stiff-neck” with yoga

I recently started to read the Bible with the intention of reading the whole book.  Actually my mom told me to, and the Bible instructs us to “Honor your mother and father, and all will be well with you.” Ephesians 6:23. 

Exodus 32:9

In Exodus, it is clear God does not like a “stiff-necked people.”  “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people.  Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them.  Then I will make you into a great nation.”  Exodus 32:9-10.

I wonder if stiff-necked displeases God because it makes one stubborn.  With a stiff neck, the head cannot be easily turned.  Therefore, it’s difficult to see other points of views, and only one perspective can be seen.

I want to encourage us to be aware of our beautiful necks and send love + gratitude.  Here are two simple yoga positions that will help keep the neck and body flexible.  The triangle and seated twist illustrations are from My Daddy is a Pretzel: Yoga for Parents and Kids by Baron Baptiste.  (A big thank you to Alison E. for gifting us this book!)

Triangle Pose

Triangles are the most stable of the geometric shapes. The triangle pose teaches us to be strong, to build a foundation of support and to relax under pressure. Triangles have three sides and three angles – just as we have three aspects: mind, body and spirit.

1.  Stand at the center of your mat with hands by your sides.  Join your feet and toes together.  Firm your thighs back.  Roll  the shoulders back and trapezium muscles down.  Raise the sternum up.

2.  Bend your knees and step your feet apart (the length of your legs).  Stretch out your arms to a T position at shoulder height.  Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and left foot in slightly.  Keep trunk and hips facing forward.  Roll buttocks downward.  Rotate your right inner thigh outward and draw your right hip in.   Lift the front of the body up.

3.  Elongating the trunk, place your right hand on your right shin and left hand up.  Make sure your right buttock does not stick out.  Hug the right shoulder blade in and back ribs in.  Open up the chest.  Elongate the neck.

4.  Lengthen sides of the legs.  Then turn your head to look up at left thumb.  Stay for 5-20 slow breaths.

5.  Inhale and come up.

6.  Repeat on other side.


Seated Twist

The spine is the center of the spine and the center of the nervous system. Practicing the seated twist helps us to release all kinds of tensions. And just as the body benefits, so too does the mind, letting go of unnecessary thoughts and worries, and becoming confident, open and alert.

1.  Sit up straight (on a block or blanket) with legs out straight in front.  Firmly press down the buttocks, and elongate the spine from tailbone to crown of the head.

2.  Bend the right knee and draw the heel close to the pelvis.  Spread your weight evenly across your right foot, pressing firmly into the big toe mound and inner heel.

3.  With an exhalation, bring left elbow to outside of the right knee and turn abdomen to the right.  Use the right leg to brace upper left arm.  Try not to let the abdomen touch the leg.

4.  Wind your right arm behind you to your left hip.  Turn your head and gaze behind over the right shoulder.  Keep the left leg strong and flexed.

5. Use each inhale to lengthen the spine and each exhale to twist further to the right.  With an inhalation, extend the spine, and as you exhale twist.  Stay for 20 slow breaths and release.  Extend your right leg.

6.  Repeat on the other side.