The average millennial in the U.S. spends more than three hours a day on their phone, texting, watching media, or surfing the net. If this doesn’t sound like you, consider how long you spend in a similar shape: watching TV, driving, reading, or doing your desk job. Shoulders rolling forward, head extended past your shoulders, and a general disengagement of your core. Sounds familiar?
If so, don’t feel bad, it’s a side-effect of much of the modern technology we interact with every day. You’re probably so focused on getting important things done that you can be forgiven for overlooking your posture once in a while!
Of course, adopting the correct posture in the first place can help avoid tension in our bodies and a general ‘closing’ of our front bodies – we’re all working on this – but, for those times when we overlook our posture, what can be done to an openness in our bodies and release tension caused by the day-to-day?
Here are three specific problems and techniques to leave you feeling more mobile and freer within your own body! *
Problem 1: Tightness in the front of the shoulders and chest
This could be caused by slouching over your phone, reaching too far for a keyboard or even feeling stressed and closed.
A great way to open your shoulders is to hold a belt behind your back, with your palms facing forward a little wider than hip distance. If you’re feeling really tight in your shoulders, separate your hands slightly. Then, holding your grip firmly and maintaining relatively straight arms, slowly reach the belt up over your head and down the front of your body. Now move in the opposite direction to return back to the starting point. Repeat this a few times with your breath.
Problem 2: Tension headaches and pain around the front of our necks
This could be caused by frequently shifting your chin forward as you strain to see your phone, the road, or the TV.
A lot of tension headaches and neck pain is caused by tightness in and around the sternocleidomastoid. The what!? This is the muscle that runs from just below your ear to your collarbone. It’s about the thickness of a board marker. You can massage it with your hand but to get a deeper release, place a tennis ball against the wall and then, in a gentle squat, lean your neck (just below the ear) against the ball. Relax. Slowly straighten your legs to allow the ball to roll down the length of the sternocleidomastoid to the collarbone. Feel free to pause at any points of tension. Repeat on the other side.
Problem 3: Lower back pain
One cause of this could be from leaning our shoulders (and neck) forward for prolonged periods of time.
Lie on your back, with both knees bent. Place your right ankle on your left thigh, just below your knee. Interlace your hands behind your left thigh, gently pulling your left knee towards your chest. Work on keeping your shoulders and lower back on the ground. Stay here for five long breaths. Repeat on the other side.
One of the most wonderful benefits of creating space in our bodies is that we are able to access a better posture more often without feeling like we’re working really hard to get there. So enjoy working together with technology but remember to maintain awareness of your body as you conquer the world!
*Disclaimer: If you choose to try these techniques, please do so at your own risk, and move mindfully with your breath.
Article by Steve Roberts
Steve Roberts is a passionate yogi, teacher/trainer, nature lover and adventure seeker from South Africa. Yoga brings him strength and flexibility in body, mind and heart.