Neck Pain Exercises- The Feldenkrais Way

Simple Neck Pain Exercises – the Feldenkrais Way!

I recently wrote about how working with neck pain with by looking at whole body connections, using Feldenkrais, can be used to accelerate your recovery.

Here, I will just offer a few simple exercises to introduce of how you can work with your neck beyond thinking of just your neck to how your neck shoulders back and spine work together. First, let me say that the number one principle of this approach is to move gently with pleasure so you can listen to yourself, and learn new ways of moving. Pleasure reinforces learning. So, please, remember, you are responsible for your well-being. Ease involves continuing to breathe, stopping before you feel resistance, and improving the quality of movement.

Each of these exercises can be repeated  you could spend for 10-15 minutes, or do them a bit more briefly in sequence.

Find a way you can be comfortable, maybe lying with a flat pad or folded towel that provides just gentle support, on a somewhat firm surface like the ground, rather than a mattress. Let yourself rest.

1) Gentle pelvic tilt, feeling movement through spine to head.

Lying down, with your legs bent so your feet are standing, gently tilt your pelvis to bring the back of your waist to the floor, and let go. Focus not on the end goal but on making it a smooth easy movement. Do this without grabbing your abs, in a small effortless way, several times, then let go to return to neutral. Then tilt your pelvis the other direction. Going very small, feel if you can soften your breathing to allow the movement to go towards your head. As you free your belly to tilt your pelvis, and soften your breathing, you will feel a connection to your head. By coordinating your pelvis with your neck you can begin to relearn support and balance.

2) Eye Movements with Your Pelvis

Still lying on your back, tilt your pelvis to bring your waist to the floor, while looking down towards your belly. Then tilt the other way to lift your waist, so your tailbone goes more towards the floor, looking up. Let your eyes go down as you title your pelvis towards your tailbone. Then explore looking the up when you lower your waist, and looking down as you life your wait. Explore which way is easier.

3) Turn your head to one side, and move eyes opposite.

(this can also be done sitting) Turn your head to one side, and back, only to feel how far it can go WITHOUT ANY STRETCHING. Then leave it turned in a place where it is easy, even if that is the tiniest amount or just an intention. Then take your eyes right and left. Then move your head to turn back and forth to that same side again. Only do one side at a time. Sometimes you will be able to turn further.

4) Gentle slow eye circles.

This is a nice build up from the sequence above, but if your neck is super sensitive, you can start with this. See if you can take about 10-15 minutes to complete a circle, slowly moving your eye (pick your dominant eye) move in a slow circle. Like slowly drawing, going back and forth around one quarter of your eye, until the movements are smooth not jerky, and expand the movements further around the circle as they smooth out. (Most people with neck pain will have jerky eyes!). Make sure you breathing as you do this.

5) Return to pelvis tilts, then try very slow pelvic circles, and maybe try them with your eyes!

Tiny, tiny!

In these examples, I have focused on very basic ways of coordinating the eyes, pelvis and head to support the neck. As I mentioned there are many different connections. Each person is unique, and there are many different ways people end up in pain, and many ways out. The neck is also an energetic transition from mind to body. Working with you I bring a study of so many dimensions. In this way, we find out your needs, and support your body wisdom to be incredibly intelligent when given the tools to change.

Let’s start simple so you can learn to move with more freedom, and ease.

Eveline Wu, MA, is a mind body specialist who offers services for physical and emotional pain relief using Feldenkrais and somatic therapy.