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The Basic Principles: Head and Cervical Placement


The cervical spine should hold its natural curve with the skull balancing directly above the shoulders when sitting in neutral. This position should also be maintained when lying on the back. If there is a kyphosis or forward head posture, pads or pillows under the head may be necessary to support the head, and prevent overextension and unnecessary tension in the cervical spine.

In most instances, the cervical spine should continue the line created by the thoracic spine in neutral, or during flexion, extension, lateral flexion and rotation.

Cervical flexion should begin with a slight head nod, referred to as craniovertebral flexion. Avoid jamming the chin into the chest. There should be enough room between chin and chest to fit a small fist. Once cranio-vertebral flexion and scapular stabilization are established, the upper torso can be flexed by contracting the abdominals to slide the rib cage toward the pelvis. When flexing the upper torso, focus on creating an even flexion through the thoracic and cervical spine.

When extending the upper torso, focus on creating an even extension through the thoracic and cervical spine. Avoid creating overextension and compression in the cervical area.

Experimenting with head and cervical placement

Start supine, with pelvis and spine neutral. Knees flexed, feet abducted hip-distance apart on the Mat. Arms long by sides, palms down.

Cranio-Vertebral Flexion (also known as Head Nods)

Inhale Drop eye focus slightly, tipping head forward. Leave head on the Mat.
Exhale Return to neutral.

Modified Abdominal Preparation

Inhale Lengthen back of neck.
Exhale While maintaining length through back of neck, stabilize scapulae, then flex thoracic spine.
Maintain neutral pelvis throughout the exercise, ensuring engagement of transversus abdominis.
Inhale Hold flexion by maintaining abdominal contraction while back and sides of rib cage expand. Maintain length in back of neck.
Exhale Return upper body to the Mat, allowing cervical spine to return to neutral once head is on the Mat.
Neutral cervical alignment
Cranio vertebral flexion
Cervical too extended
Cervical too flexed
Correct upper body flexion
Overflexion of cervial
Overextension of cervical
Correct upper body extension