Necks deserve much more credit—and attention—than they're typically given. Oft ignored in beauty regimens in favor of the face, or in fitness regimens because they're less obvious choices for toning muscle, a healthy neck can be the key to long-term beauty and longevity. From ensuring balanced hormones (most glands are located in the neck region), to preventing debilitating aches (even some migraines can be traced back to muscular problems in the neck), your future will thank you for starting early on neck care.
Yoga & meditation
Yoga poses can be especially beneficial in strengthening neck muscles and preventing injury and aches: try camel, locust, spinal twists, cat and cow, forward bends, and fish. Breathing meditation—"humming" meditation in particular—can be a powerful ally in keeping your glands functioning optimally (especially in relation to thyroid function—responsible for everything from strong hair and skin to energy and maintaining a healthy weight!).
Humming meditation is exactly as it sounds—inhale deeply and exhale fully, making a throaty, humming sound. Do 12 to 15 breaths in each cycle. Repeat for three cycles daily. This yoga/breathing meditation combination helps maintain muscle health and strong circulation to the neck—delivering great benefits to health and beauty.
If you're already experiencing some muscular discomfort or aches in the neck region—try a natural muscle relaxant such as valerian at bedtime. Hot baths with ginger powder and baking soda can help relieve pain, as can rubbing a ginger-eucalyptus paste (grate ginger and add two to three drops of eucalyptus essential oil) on the affected area. Vata imbalance is often the cause of neck—and back-related pain, so avoid the cold and try a vata-pacifying diet for added relief.
Within anti-aging care for the neck, you want to focus on stimulating collagen and wrinkle prevention. Gentle oil massages, especially with the right oil, can help you accomplish both! Massaging action stimulates muscle firmness. Try pomegranate oil—rich in punicic acid (beloved for its collagen-boosting properties), as well as antioxidants, as a great ultra-absorbent choice for a daily massage. For a boost of wrinkle-fighting goodness, add in some essential oils such as frankincense, geranium, or rose—known for their anti-aging properties.
Speaking of toning facial muscles, these are my favorite facial yoga exercises for the neck!
Define the jowls:
- Put two fingers to your closed lips to prevent air from escaping and then fill your cheeks with air so they puff out.
- Hold for a few seconds, then release with a soft exhale. This will raise everything in your face, preventing the sagging in that area that comes with age.
Firm neck skin:
- Use the four fingers to massage upward, starting at the collarbone and ending at the chin.
- Massage the neck alternatively with each hand using firm upward strokes. Repeat for about 20 quick strokes.
An all-over facelift:
- Place the index and middle finger of each hand firmly under the lower lip, and the thumb under the chin. (Your fingertips should be touching and creating a slight V that your chin can rest in).
- Move each hand up toward the ear with a firm sweeping motion along your cheeks. End with your thumbs on the dip just behind your ear—where the jawbone meets the bony part of your skull).
- Press the point gently but firmly with your thumb, applying even pressure for about 30 seconds. This stimulates the marma point attached to facial muscles and nerves, helping tone skin fight the appearance of wrinkles. Repeat 5 to 10 times.