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Improving Your Neck Placement: a New Metaphor

July, 2019

Note the forward head and neck placement of both these High Street pedestrians. This usually results from tucking the pelvis (see the man (right)), but can also become a habit independent of pelvic position (see woman (left)).


Here our Bristol teacher Clare Chapman has digitally edited the photo to demonstrate how different healthier posture can look. Compare these subjects’ edited neck placement and spinal curvature with that in the original picture.

Metaphors can be powerful tools for learning new kinesthetic pathways. A metaphor packages a picture (which, we all know, can be worth 1000 words!) as well as some helpful verbiage. The Gokhale Method uses metaphors liberally, and it often takes a metaphor to help a student understand, execute, and remember a desired action.

A new metaphor for cueing the neck
Our Bristol teacher Clare Chapman recently introduced a useful metaphor to direct students in improving their neck architecture. Visualize the head as a car that is parked in the driveway (protruded forward) or even out on the street (very protruded forward). Now, while keeping the neck long, back your “car” into its “garage.” That is, you want to glide your head gently and smoothly back into its place. 

This seated Bamana male figure from Mali shows an ideal neck alignment.

I've begun using this metaphor in my teaching and see students smiling — perhaps because it's funny to think of the head as a car parked out in the driveway or on the street, or because backing a car into a garage is a comfortingly familiar process, or perhaps because it's pleasant to understand what's being taught! Whatever the reason, I see my students learning faster and better.

My husband, Brian, with an elephant in Thailand. This particular elephant’s primary job was transporting logs as well as people in the forest. There are not enough tourists in this area to have tourism be the elephants' main activity. The Karen tribal people have a very intimate (and seemingly joyous) relationship with their elephants, riding them bare-backed, swimming with them, and also using them in a similar way to how draft horses might be used.

Brian enjoying a moment with the family cats (not pictured).

It's very striking how an apt metaphor can change the learning curve dramatically. Does this metaphor work for you? Are there other metaphors that help you align your neck?

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Pictures are worth a thousand words - thank you Esther!  I do like the car metaphor too.  BTW, I am currently reading your "8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back" for the 1st time .... so very interesting.

It's good to read to get a broad overview and then come back and focus on one little bite-size morsel at a time. Good luck!

Another handy tool for my "Posture Improvement" tool box!  Thank you, Esther.


You're most welcome!

The metaphor I like to use is a momma cat picking up a kitten by the nap of its neck. Pretend your the kitten being picked up and then relax. 

Oh that's a nice one!! Thank you!

Thank you, James, as a cat lover I like that a lot!

Yes, a great metaphor.  Goes along with my learning where my rhomboids are and getting them to pitch in and work!  Thank you Esther!

Be careful about not making your rhomboids work in a sustained way, or you risk getting the places there they attach on the thoracic spine sore. Lats could be a good addition to this effort.

I find that if I lift my upper chest a little, my head slides into a more correct position (like the statue in your picture).

That pic with the straightened postures is an eye opener. Your book and workshop have me walking better, driving relaxed, and continuing to improve overall. I can send this URL to my bodywork clients who are working on their neck posture. I am coming from deeper in my pelvis whenever I bend, and I'm hoping my neck is straightening out too. Thanks, Esther.