My Neck and Shoulders...! An Interview with Josephine Ashford
Are your motivations in taking a yoga class ever fueled by a need to relieve tension? Or quite possibly to relieve stress? Do you often find your stress creeping in as tension, rising up to the neck and shoulders? I learned in the interview below with Josephine Ashford, yoga instructor and massage therapist, that the experience of tension and stress usually go hand in hand. And that most of us are caught in a cycle of stress leading to tension and poor posture, which then leads to self-shaming and stress about our poor posture, which leads to worse posture which leads to....catch my drift? However, Josephine’s holistic, yogic perspective around healthy posture strips away the shame and helps us work towards a pain-free life with self-compassion. The upcoming workshop, titled My Neck and Shoulders…!, gave me the opportunity to interview Josephine and dive deeper. Be sure to check out the interview below, and then snag your spot by signing up HERE. Join Josephine on Sunday, March 3rd from 3:00-4:30PM at our main location, Soul Strong Yoga, in downtown Round Rock.
What are some of the biggest benefits of taking time out to focus on your neck and shoulder health?
--Learning to actively prioritize your own well-being—this is self-love and compassion. You’re taking care of an issue that is causing you distress.
--Alleviating physical discomfort and range of motion limitations. Staying more comfortable and mobile in your body on the whole.
--Prevention and slowing or stopping the progression of postural dysfunction. The impact of shoulder and neck problems is not isolated, but concurrent with, or predictive of, future issues in other parts of the body.
What inspired you to teach this neck & shoulders workshop?
Along with yoga teaching, I have also been a massage therapist for nearly 12 years. Between the two, I can tell you what I hear most frequently is:
“my problem area is my neck and shoulders”
“my shoulders are really tight”
“my upper back between my shoulder blades is really tight”
“the tops of my shoulders and neck hurt…they just stay tight”
“I feel hunched in my shoulders all the time”
These statements are usually accompanied by an acknowledgment that this is a common issue. Most of us are all too familiar with this type of tension and even pain, but many people don’t know exactly what can be done about it.
I often hear clients and students berating themselves for not having better posture, which is not psychically helpful or kind to self. And I hear that they try to “sit up straight,” but know they fail all the time. I see people needing to better understand what is happening in their bodies and why on a deeper level. I see them needing some concrete and accessible ways of starting to change their thinking about postural health (starting with not calling it “bad” or “good”), physical and daily living practices that can start them on a path to a healthier, easy posture, and more body awareness and presence—this is also strongly related to stress management, habit change, and a great use of mindfulness.
What should students expect when signing up? How will yoga be tied in?
Students can expect to gain a deeper understanding of their postural health, learn simple exercises and stretches (to do during the workday, for example) that will start to move them into having a more natural posture (and thus feeling so much better). They will learn how to go about different activities of daily living (particularly use of screen devices and sleeping positions) in ways that promote healthy posture and movement.
We will do an asana practice of some key poses for the neck, shoulder girdle, and back (and what to focus on while in them, posturally) that help to develop the balance of soft tissue strength and functional flexibility, as well promote maintenance of optimal joint movement (ie: the vertebral joints). The asana in this workshop will be accessible to beginners, and modified as needed.
We will also share a conversation about habit change, stress manifestations in the body, and a somewhat guided mindfulness meditation.
I am very excited to teach this workshop, and grateful for the opportunity to spend purposeful time with everyone there. One of my greatest passions is to help people learn how to live easier in their bodies. Namaste!
Want to learn more about Yoga for the Neck and Shoulders?
Check out the links below!