I used to teach a lot of Corporate Yoga (now I teach yogis on lunch break at home), so I commonly hear about neck pain and tight, tense shoulders. Long hours in front of a desk invite the shoulders to creep up towards the ears like earrings, with mental stress yanking them up even higher. Office workers aren't the only people with this concern. In fact, if you have a neck and at least one shoulder (plus a cell phone, computer, or television), chances are you've felt it too.
That's because we live in a "forward-rounded society": We get up in the morning and check our phones (not always in that order), drive to work, sit at a desk, drive home from work, sit on the couch, lie down in bed, repeat, repeat, repeat. The particular details of your day might vary somewhat, but we all share the same common denominator: slouching, slumping, shrugging, stooping, drooping, hunching, hovering, ad infinitum.
Whether it's from surfing the net, watching TV, or tapping away on your phone doesn't matter. But the impact, and the cascading physical consequences that come with it, does.
Chronically tight and contracted pectoral muscles and chronically weakened, “locked-long,” neck, mid-back, and rear deltoid (shoulder) muscles contribute to headaches, backaches, and a stiff neck—and that's only the immediate effect.
Prevent Hunchback at Any Age
Kyphosis is the technical term for what you might recognize as a “hunchback position” and derives from the Greek word for a hump. It refers to an excessively forward-rounded middle to upper back. Many people think this is a natural progression of aging— this is absolutely not true!
While in some cases the malformation is due to osteoporosis, in many other people, it is a postural habit that can be prevented, improved, and sometimes even reversed.
7 Surprising Reasons Poor Posture is Bad for Your Health:
Poor posture inhibits deep breathing. Deep breathing calms the mind and brings feelings of health and well-being.
Deep breathing increases energy; shallow breathing drains you.
The inability to “sit tall” profoundly affects one’s mood and perspective. Try for yourself and see: Right now, shift your posture to sit tall and erect, lifting the chest and dropping your shoulders down away from your ears. Then create an exaggeratedly slouched position. Feel the difference?
Feelings of self-worth and self-confidence can be compromised by a posture that has you always looking down at the floor.
Shallow breathing creates more tension in the neck and shoulders, creating shallow breathing, causing a tight neck, jaw, and shoulders, causing shallow breathing . . .
Muscle imbalances can lead to chronic pain and discomfort, in addition to compromised strength and balance.
Compressed internal organs inhibits optimal circulation and digestion.
Students of all ages, including my 55 + and Seniors, appreciate the sense of freedom and increased mobility that a postural sequence like the one above provides.
The first several poses of this sequence will provide some relief from caused by tension and strain, but more importantly, the spinal extensions (or backbends) provided will help to strengthen your upper back and shoulders, so that you can maintain the lengthening work that you’ve done on the mat, throughout the rest of the day.
Close with some gentle spinal twists to stretch the intercostal muscles between the ribs (their elasticity contributes to a deeper breathing capacity) and, as always, a final relaxation to integrate and absorb the multidimensional benefits of your practice.
It's all about the journey, so you might as well enjoy your exploration along the way!