Transforming Fear to Joy

Freeing Your Neck & Throat with Yoga Actions (Part 1)

Last week, we looked at a yoga sequence and yoga actions focused on freeing the physical and emotional tension (holding patterns) in our heart space. Within our body, the physical element of air is concentrated in the heart region. Air connects us internally with our conditioned habits and externally to people and things, thereby yoking us to all that is.    Strengthening and opening the heart space cultivates healthy loving relationships with ourselves and with others. 

The ability to express loving-kindness in all our relations is further enhanced by strengthening and opening the throat and neck. Simply put, to think, speak and act lovingly requires us to find and free our authentic voice. In order to do so, our focus this week is on the throat diaphragm (TD), which is located behind the collar bones in the front body and in front of the upper shoulder blades (top edges) in the back body. Think of the TD as a circle which you are trying to fill with space — front to back and side to side.

In yoga philosophy, the TD is where the physical element of space is concentrated and where most of us have lost both our awareness and our capacity to create space.  In other words, if you feel pressed in by your life right now, this is the place where that pressure resides.  Often this pressure manifests as either a closing of the throat (not voicing what we think and feel) or an explosion of too-big emotions and hurtful words. In either case, we are reacting impulsively rather than responding from our authentic intuitive wisdom.

Thus, strengthening our TD creates the container for greater inner space, which then expands our capacity to hold space for clear seeing and calm abiding in our inner and outer world.  Here then is where we feel the freedom to respond authentically and to release our potential. To assess your own capacity for free authentic expression, sit quietly in Virasana for 1 to 2 minutes and ask yourself —

  • Who do I feel disconnected from?
  • Where do I feel crowded internally or too busy externally?

VIRASANA (Hero Pose) 2 minutes (await your answers)

For the remaining sequence illustrated below, practise these yoga actions to free your throat.


  1. EXPAND the circumference of the Throat Diaphragm (TD) from the size of a thimble to a grapefruit; first with your breath, then with your awareness.
  2. Sense the back edges of your TD, soften and expand it outward along the top edges of your shoulder blades.

VIPARITA KARANI KAIUT variation (Legs up wall)
– Head on bolster; sit bones 12-18 inches from wall: 

  1. Hands clasped under bolster 3 minutes each clasp
    Reverse clasp
  2. Arms extended over head under bolster 3 minutes

URDHVA MUKHA SVANASANA (Upward-facing Dog) 5-10 Breaths
– Block under upper thighs
EXPAND circumference of TD, first with breath, then with awareness.
In Backbends (BBs):  roll front edge of TD down toward heart — opens throat

PINCHA DOG 10 breaths
In Inversions: roll front edge of TD up toward head — releases back of neck

UTTANASANA (Standing Forward Fold) 5 breaths
In Inversions: roll front edge of TD up toward head — releases back of neck

EXPAND circumference of TD, first with your breath, then with your awareness
In BBs:  roll front edge down toward the heart

BALASANA (Child) 1 minute
– arms back or extended 
In Forward Folds (FFs):  roll front edge up toward head — releases neck                                  

SAVASANA (Corpse) 5-10 minutes
– head suspended using belt & chair

May all beings feel the freedom of authenticity. Namaste.

Author: Helen Maupin

Author: Helen Maupin

Helen is passionate about transforming fear into love — from her, for her, for all. She expresses her commitment to transformation through writing poetry, self-awareness and yoga books, co-designing organizations into adaptive enterprises and deepening her daily meditation and yoga practices.


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