The cervical portion of the human spine is comprised of seven bony segments, typically referred to as C1 to C7, with cartilaginous discs between each vertebral body. This is our neck and it supports the weight of our head while also protecting the nerves which carry sensory and motor information from the brain down to the rest of the body. The neck is highly flexible and allows the head to turn and flex in all directions.
Let’s look a little more closely at the first two vertebrae, C1 and C2 respectively. These two vertebrae have the very important task of connecting our skull to our spine. It is interesting to note that C1, otherwise known as the “atlas” that holds up the head (the “globe” for the atlas), has no body. It is doughnut-shaped with two arches that allow for the second vertebra, C2, also known as the “axis,” to create the pivot upon which it nods and rotates.
These two vertebra are important because of their connection to the brainstem. Trillions of nerve fibers from the brainstem travel through the opening in the atlas and flow down into the spinal column. Because the opening through the atlas is so small, any movement out of position, even a fraction of a degree, can restrict the nerves and distort the messages traveling from the brain to the different parts of the body. What results is body imbalance, improper nerve function, disease, and pain.
When the atlas is out of whack it is like driving a car that is misaligned. You can replace the tires but they will wear out at a faster rate — the same thing is true with the human body. You can take medication but unless the alignment of the atlas is corrected, the condition will not go away. In order for the organs and cells of the body to function well they must receive uninterrupted signals from the brain. The pathway of the nervous system within the spine is critical to your well-being and it starts from the top, from that little fellow holding up your brain.
Is there a way of naturally realigning our atlas and axis? Yes, there is! It’s called “saying yes with your head.” Nodding the head up and down to indicate “yes” is a sign in most cultures of agreement, acceptance and acknowledgment.
In seeking an origin for this movement we need look no further than babies who, when hungry, search for their mother’s milk by moving their heads vertically. When babies grow into older children and can find nutrition outside of their mother, this movement becomes less frequent.
However, the restorative function of nodding does not go away. Not only does it correct and stimulate energy flow from the brain through the spine all through the body, it particularly addresses certain organs, like the eyes, for instance.
Try this out as an exercise. Shake your head side to side (“no”) and sense whether you can see clearly. Can you? It’s difficult, isn’t it? Now, nod your head up and down (“yes”). How do you see? It’s different, right? You can focus at times and see clearly.
Did you know that research has found when you nod your head up and down at least 100 times a day, looking up at the ceiling and down at your toes, your vision can improve? You are strengthening the muscles in your neck and increasing blood circulation to your head and eyes.
The stimulation from your neck also travels down your spine — awakening each vertebra in its journey. Better vision, energized spine, happier human — all from nodding up and down and saying “yes.”
We hope you will say “yes” with your head at least 100 times a day — and reap the rewards that come along with this simple action. Have a happy, healthy, and peaceful day — and be on the lookout for opportunities to use your head (and brain) well!