Three Techniques To Beat Computer Hunch
Counter Physical Damage Caused by Screens
I have a “thing” about screens. Computer screens, tv screens, cell phone screens…it seems like living in front of a screen is an epidemic of modern society. By far the most common physical imbalances I see as a yoga teacher are those caused by screens. Or more specifically, hours and hours spent hunched over, watching, or typing into a screen.
The repetitive strain of such behaviour wreaks havoc on the human body. Problematic shoulders, necks, arms, wrists, elbows, lower back, etc...none are safe from the cumulative effects of hunching over a screen for extended periods of time. Even our energy levels and organs are affected, as our bodies hunch forward, impeding the capacity of the lungs, and preventing healthy organ alignment and function.
The good news is that with some simple techniques, we can dramatically lessen some of the harsh effects of living in front of a screen.
Lie flat on the floor, long enough to simply notice how your shoulders and chest connect with the ground.
Roll a yoga mat tightly (standard size mat, please, or a tightly rolled towel or blanket to simulate the size of a rolled mat) and sit down with your knees bent and feet planted. Place the bottom of the mat at your bra strap (sorry gentlemen, but you get the idea!), and lie down so it’s aligned along the spine and supporting the head. Extend the legs straight out in front of you (knees bent with feet planted if the lower back isn’t 100% happy) and relax. Just breathe and relax for a few minutes. Then, remove the mat and notice again how your shoulders and chest connect with the ground.
Grab your tightly rolled mat again, but now you’re going to lie in a "t" position: legs straight out in front of you, arms straight out at shoulder height with the palms facing up. The mat should be placed in the same orientation as the arms, an inch or two below your underarms (slightly higher than bra strap level), and should be aligned evenly from left to right. The arms should be extended above the mat, on the floor; not on the mat or below it. Extend the legs straight out in front of you (knees bent with feet planted if the lower back isn’t happy) and relax. Just breathe and relax for a few minutes. Then, remove the mat and notice again how your shoulders and chest connect with the ground.
Remember, yoga should never hurt! If you experience pain in either of these pose,s they either aren’t a good option for you or may require further adaptation. Stretching is great, but please, please, please don’t practice in pain!
This little series should help to diminish some of the detrimental effects of living a screen-filled life. It helps to relax the shoulders, soften the chest, and best of all, naturally enhances our energy and sense of well-being. The best solution for hunching forward is simply doing the opposite...open your heart!
Leo Mowry is the host of A Brand New Day on Rogers TV, and owns Village Yoga in Toronto. For more information, visit www.villageyoga.ca Follow Leo on Twitter @evolvingleo