Hatha Yoga Warm-ups – Neck Rolls


Certain warm-ups are essential to my yoga practice. Warming up the joints, waking the muscles with a bit of stretching, “Hello! Time to get busy!”

Neck rolls are one of my favourite warm-up exercises because having a strong neck is essential in performing many of the asanas. Also, regular practice maintains flexibility of the neck muscles and can help prevent/reduce lines and wrinkles in the throat area. Additional benefits include:

  • Maintaining the health of the nerves that run from the neck to the eyes, ears and brain. This can be beneficial in helping prevent problems with sight and hearing;
  • Strengthening major blood vessels for a good flow of blood from the neck to the brain, helping with improved energy and memory;
  • Mini adjustments to the upper spine.
6-13 12 Brigitte (3) - Cropped
That’s it, Brigitte! Nice and easy!

It’s always best to begin slowly with neck exercises. Start slowly and listen to the body. If you have trouble with the rotations, lift your shoulders slightly to help support the neck until it becomes stronger. If you hear “crackling” or “gristly” sounds, it means that ossification has set in to some extent, but regular practice will reverse this problem before you know it. A few weeks of daily practice will make a world of difference to your throat and neck health. Try it! It works! But, always, always respect your body and go at a pace that is comfortable for you.

I begin by sitting in a comfortable position making sure the spine is tall and relaxed. Then, I inhale deeply. With the exhalation, I slowly lower my chin toward my chest, resting there for a few moments and taking in the gentle stretch of the neck. Inhaling, I slowly I rotate my head in one direction moving gently through any obstructions ~ rotating once, twice, several more times. (At this point, I am no longer regulating the rhythm of the breath.) I rest with the head lowered for a few moments and then reverse the rotation.

Other times I may also incorporate a nice side-to-side stretch lowering the head to the left shoulder, then the right, conscious of the gentle lengthening of the muscles.

It’s very important to keep the breath smooth and flowing during the exercise. Breathing in, I am conscious of oxygen flowing to all my organs, muscles and every cell of the body. Exhaling, I consciously relax more deeply into the exercise and the present moment.

As I finish the neck rotations, I rest where I began with the chin toward the chest and then ever….. so….. slowly….. lift the chin parallel to the floor. I relax in this position savoring the moment and the beginning of ever deeper levels of relaxation and, at the same time, increased energy.

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Northern CA Lake, All Rights Reserved

If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment,
live in the breath.
— Amit Ray

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8 thoughts on “Hatha Yoga Warm-ups – Neck Rolls

  1. I used to have physical therapy come in to my home a few times a week and the stretches he made me do felt so good..But we did try some yoga and with other test he did and I have been told this before that I am to flexible that I would benefit from something called palaties how ever you spell that lol sorry lol…So this year I wanted to look on youtube to see if I could find anything to help and of course everything is on youtube so yes I did find videos but..but… I have not lived up to my own goals or outlook so that is on me.. more me times and goals that I have to do on my own and will . in another words I have to take better care of myself and that I shall do …sorry for the rant…I enjoyed your post and did it so I want to thank you for putting it up.. I enjoy reading blogs that help others and this was perfect…thank you …Suzette

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Suzette, There are few things that I have strong views and opinions about and hatha yoga is one of them. When I said in a previous post that I’ve been doing it off and on for a few years I meant, literally, over 30 years. I had fabulous teachers in various ways and know from personal experience what yoga has to offer each of us individually. I’ve never done pilates ( πŸ™‚ ), but it is far from yoga. If you are enjoying yoga and you are very flexible the next step is to hold the posture for a longer period of time. When one is proficient (and that’s different for each individual) holding a pose three to five minutes is a good amount of time. It gives blood time to flow through the body, the muscles a chance to relax more deeply, AND strengthens mental concentration. More than three to five minutes is usually not necessary unless it is a particular pose that you are working with and are gaining something (physically, mentally, or spiritually) by holding it for a longer period of time. If you really feel attuned to yoga I suggest beginner videos by Rodney Yee or Lilias Folan. And then go from there. Also, the book that winged me on my way long, long ago: Yoga, Youth and Reincarnation by Jess Stern.

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      1. wow 30 years..oh i will look up the information you gave me for sure the books and the amazing advice as well…thank you so much.. I just took what the pt said and went from there i didn’t mean any harm…but I understand what you are saying and i will for sure give it a better try with all that you said…so I want to thank you I wrote down the video and book and look forward to my new journey… and with you i thank you so very much… I am thankful for you taking out the time to respond to me.. πŸ™‚

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      2. You are so kind. Yes, 30 years. I was just a youngster πŸ™‚ I think yoga is pretty much for everyone ~ to the degree in which they want it. It could simply be a few neck rolls with yogi-like concentration or a full-on routine 30 minutes three times a week. I will be posting more about yoga, and meditation, in the coming weeks. ALWAYS feel free to comment and/or contact me personally. I’m happy to share what little I know πŸ™‚ Keep me posted on your progress and remember: yogis never judge! So be kind to yourself ❀

        Liked by 1 person

      3. thank you…you still are a kid at heart πŸ˜‰ as i refuse to grow up πŸ˜‰ well I can’t wait for you to start posting about yoga and meditation.. ok I will keep you posted and look forward to your post and I will chime in i am looking forward to this..and I am thankful that you are sharing this with me and well everyone that wants to learn and i am sure you know plenty for doing this 30 years but you don’t age my dear πŸ™‚ I will follow your blog as it looks interesting to me as well…please keep in touch to…and of course i will let you know how i do…that depends a lot on my health this is one reason why i wanted to better myself inside and out mind body and soul….until next time my friend take care and hugs to you…Suzette

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your warm up exercises got my attention as my neck (along with cold fingers) speaks to me, and its not pretty! I don’t practice yoga, but I do work out regularly and the neck stretches and breathing techniques would be a good routine to do before I begin. Or just do! I feel more relaxed already!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Elisa! Yes, the neck can be very telling ~ and the story is not always nice πŸ™‚ The stretches are such a simple way to bring blood and energy to that area. They are a good tool to slow down, and even reverse to a degree, the aging process around the neck and throat.

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