Text Neck Yoga: Asanas for Countering the Effects of Your Smartphone
by Debby Siegel, MSA, RYT, DoYouYoga.com Ambassador
According to Pew Research Center, 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone and 95% own cell phones. We are increasingly hunching our head forward over these dandy little modern tools and our cervical spine is responding. By supporting your 12-pound noggin while clicking those tiny keys you add up to up to 60 pounds of strain on your spine, especially the top 7 vertebrae. And your mom was right, you need to stand up straight. Poor posture can cause significant health problems, including reduced lung capacity by as much as 30 percent, headaches, neurological issues, and even heart disease. (Did you just sit up straighter?)
Well, yoga to the rescue. Let’s undo some of the overuse of the cervical spine and get those shoulders living where they should in our anatomy too. Here are some basic moves to help:
Head into Hands
Begin in Seated Sukhasana (criss cross apple sauce) with the bottom of your pelvic bones rooted evenly into the floor and the crown of your head stretching toward the ceiling. Reach your arms up overhead, clasp your hands together by interlacing your fingers with your thumbs free. Bend at your elbows and place the palms of your hands on the back of your head, resting your thumbs where your hairline meets your neck in the occipital area. Inhale and gently press the back of your head into your hands while keeping the sensation of your tailbone lengthening into the floor and the crown of your head up toward the sky while drawing the chin in. Breathe here several breaths. Enter a state of being, and away from doing. Text neck is result of our always doing, checking status, likes, messaging people back, etc etc. Let’s step away from this state and into a resting state of being.
Ear to Shoulder Pose
Sitting in sukhasana looking forward with shoulders and hips aligned, inhale as you lengthen the crown of your head toward the sky; then exhale and release your right ear down toward your right shoulder, trying not to lift the shoulder toward the ear. Inhale, lift your right arm out to the side, bend at your elbow and exhale place your palm of your right hand on the left side of your head (careful not to press your head with your hand) as you plant your left hand on the ground behind your left leg and drop your left shoulder down away from your ear while continuing to breathe slow, deep breaths.
Tabletop to Thread the Needle
From all fours, in a neutral tabletop position with your fingers spread wide and knees hip width on your mat, inhale as you begin to lift your right hand up and toward the ceiling, opening your chest to the right side of the mat/space/room. Exhale as you lower your right arm, bending into the left elbow and left shoulder and lowering your head and neck toward the mat while threading the right arm under the body landing it palm up on the mat on the left side of your body. Allow the right side of your skull to rest on the floor. Hold this posture and breathe as any tension in your neck and shoulder releases. To exit, push with your left hand into the mat and lift yourself back to a neutral tabletop. Repeat on the other side.
Shoulder Opener on Blocks
Start kneeling. Place one or two blocks in front of you on the medium height or tallest height and place your elbows on the block(s). Inhale to lengthen and exhale as you lower your chest, dropping your head between your forearms.
Inhale, press your hands together in a prayer position, then exhale as you bend at your elbows and reverse the prayer down your back. Hold for as many deep, cleansing breaths as feels right in your body.
Half Locust Pose
Lie face down with both arms parallel and stretched straight above your head, palms facing down. Keep the legs extended long with the tops of your feet and your forehead resting on the floor.
Inhale as you press your hips and pelvis into the floor lifting your head, upper chest, left arm and right leg off the ground. Then exhale and release everything to the floor, lowering your forehead gently while keeping the chin tucked. Switch sides to lift the right arm and left leg. Do this several times on each side.
(It is not necessary to lift arms and legs high, just stretching them from your torso and lifting your head using the neck muscles in the back of the neck.)
Reverse Table Top
Sit on floor with knees bent, feet flat on floor hip width apart, palms slightly behind your hips by your sides with fingers facing toward your feet. Inhale, pressing through heels and hands and lifting hips until spine is perpendicular with floor, allowing head to fall back. Continue lifting hips as you breathe deeply, holding for 3 to 5 deep breaths. Repeat.
Debby Siegel, RYT, MSA: Her childhood spent barefoot in the Arizona desert, Debby has a developed connection to the great outdoors. Find her roaming the streets on a bicycle, monkeying up tall rocks or skiing down them, swimming and paddling along in waters and practicing yoga on any surface available. Debby connects. She spends her days connecting businesses to their markets through digital media; and some of her nights and weekends connecting to yoga students online through YoGoGirls and DoYouYoga.com, and in person at Four Seasons and a south city community center. Debby highly values community, creativity, adventure, and the healing power that only wild places can provide. She helps others come home to themselves through self-love and the growth that comes from discomfort coupled with a bit of challenge.