As a yoga teacher, I see a lot of my students face the same problems – stiff neck, hunched back, and chronic lower back pain. These problems are extremely common today as we spend much of our day staring at a computer screen, often sitting in a position that is harmful to our body. Even as we log off our computers, we pick up another gadget that requires us to slouch – our phones.
1. Downward Facing Dog
Perhaps the most commonly seen pose in yoga, the downward dog (or Adho Mukha Savasana) is great to relieve back pain. It also helps strengthens the wrist and alleviate wrist pains. In downward dog, concentrate on working from ground up, pressing the mounts of your feet and heels down. Check that your toes are relaxed and not grasping the floor. Focus also on lengthening your spine and opening the chest up.
The cobra or Bhujangasana helps lengthen the front muscles of the neck – a part of our body often neglected and shortened as we hunch over a screen or a keyboard at work. The cobra requires the practitioner to rotate the shoulders out and opening the chest, which will help correct a hunched back problem and restoring the natural curve in the spine. In cobra, take extra care to ensure that you don’t arch your lower back. Tilt your pelvis towards the mat and tuck your lower abdominals in to help keep the lower back long.
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Who knew standing upright could be so beneficial? The mountain pose improves posture as well as strengthens the thighs, knees and ankles – something we hardly do as we sit at our desks day in and day out. Tadasana also helps firms the abdominal muscles and the buttocks. In mountain, press the ball of your big toe, little toe and heel down while lifting the inner arches of your feet up at the same time. Lengthen your tailbone towards the mat. Stay in the pose between 30 seconds to a minute, making sure that you breathe deeply. For more of a challenge, fold forward and bring your hands down to the mat in Utannasana!
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4. Crescent Moon
The crescent moon pose is a great pose for the upper body as it deeply stretches and opens the sides of our body. It helps releases any discomfort felt as a result of seating too long. It releases any tension felt at the neck as well as shoulders. In this pose, keep your feet firmly grounded on the mat as you extend towards each side. Keep your shoulders away from your ears, which will help lengthen your neck. You can also do this pose while sitting!
The fish pose or Matsyasana is a wonderful way to open the chest as it stretches the front part of your body including the throat, chest and abdomens. Like many chest opening poses, the fish pose will correct our modern day problems of poor posture and slouching, In this pose, try not to shorten the back of your neck. Instead, keep it extended and comfortable. Take care to not place too much weight on your head. Press down on your thighs and activate your back muscles to stay in the pose.
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