Restore your shoulders, strengthen your wrists and ease neck and back pain.
I have been teaching yoga now for nine years, six years full-time, where I did not have to deal with consistent office work. For the past 3 years, yoga is still my practice and lifestyle, but I now work daily in an office chair, on the computer, if not sending a multitude of What's App messages, social media bursts and phone calls for my company. Consistent computer and smartphone use has created regular habits in our posture, and specific to these devices, issues in our wrists, neck and shoulders.
What if I told you that this did not have to be the end all be all? In the yoga tradition, "asana" means posture. It can be the pose you practice, or how you hold your body in any movement. Do you want to fix your constant "slouch-asana"? It's time for some easy tips and exercises to help you get there.
MOUSE WORK WITH THE WHOLE ARM: Look at how you use your mouse. We tend to naturally just use the hand and fingers in moving and clicking on the mouse. But guess what's connected to that hand? Your arm, your shoulder, your whole body! Try more connected movement, meaning hold the mouse with your hand, and feel the strength of your hand muscles pull up into your arm all the way to your shoulder. This will naturally draw your shoulder back. Imagine your shoulder blade placed strongly on your back. From here, move your mouse. A more whole movement, initiated from your shoulder, not your wrist.
SHOULDER STRETCH AT YOUR DESK: "Gomukhasana" (pictured above) is a powerful shoulder stretch to bring ease from regular computer use. Notice how hunched your shoulder can get when you are thinking hard of what to write in an email or a text. Naturally our shoulders want to relax downwards away from the neck, with a slight external rotation of the arms. Start this pose by raising your right arm up to the sky with your thumb pointing outwards to assit in external rotation. Bend your elbow and place your hand behind your head, aiming to touch the top of your back. This may be enough of a stretch for you, if so, just hold your right elbow with your left hand, and press your head into the left forearm. Breathe here. If you wish to take it deeper, stretch your left arm out to the side, thumb pointing downwards. Bend your left elbow to draw your left hand to the mid-back. Work with a ruler, a scarf, or something to connect both hands. As you inhale, feel your spine lengthen, and your head press up. As you exhale, work on drawing back your shoulders and pulling your navel inwards as you press down into your seat. Slowly release and repeat on the other side.
RELEASE WRIST TENSION REGULARLY: It is recommended to change any repetitive movement every hour. Meaning if you sit for an hour, get up and walk around. Meaning if you are typing a lot, take a break to release your wrists. Wrap your left hand around your right wrist bones. Tighten your grasp, squeezing tightly. In this grasp, stretch your fingers outwards and then draw into a fist. Do this five times, then on the other side. If you wish to go deeper, slowly make small circles with your hands in both directions as you keep the squeeze.
MAKE SLOUCHASANA A THING OF THE PAST: Take a moment and see your perfected slouch. How your back rounds, shoulders draw forward, chest caves in and head hunches forward. Now, work on doing the exact opposite! Inhale and expand your chest as you breathe. Draw your head back in line with your spine. Take your hands behind you, place them on your lower back, keeping your elbows bent. Inhale and roll your shoulders back, exhale squeeze your elbows towards the centre of your spine - don't worry, they won't get there! Work as you open your chest and shoulders, to continue pressing your head back, as if there is a ruler on your spine that you can press the back of your head onto. Work on this for 1 minute, then release. See how your posture has changed.
STRETCH YOUR SPINE: Get up from your seat, and stand, feet hip-distance apart. Focus on pressing your heels into the ground to stabilize your stance. Inhale and raise your arms overhead. Bend your right arm and hold just below your left elbow. This will make your right forearm come behind your head. Press your head into the right forearm, as you continue to stretch the left arm straight upwards. Each inhale, imagine a string in your spine, lengthening your spine upwards with each breath. Each exhale, press down into your heels, as you stretch the left arm over to the right side. See if you are twisting to any side, and work on keeping your chest and ribs facing forward as you stretch your left side. Inhale back up, and exhale as you release your arms. Repeat on the other side, with right arm extended upwards and left arm bent behind your head.
These are just five tips to bring with you to work, and anytime you find yourself in front of a computer screen. If you wish to commit to an hour for yourself, where you can learn more intelligent asana, come join me on the yoga mat at Studio RCT, a functional movement studio in Bahrain. Launching April 2016, I will be teaching 4-times per workweek evening classes to assist in strengthening body connection that will assist you in easing your slouchasana, and having the ability to do all that you have to do in life from a place of balance and ease with less pain.
My name is Josie, I have been a student of yoga since childhood, and a teacher of yoga for almost a decade. Check me out on your computer utilizing these 5 tips at www.josiehoupt.com. If you have more questions on my Yoga Classes, or these tips, feel free to connect with me.