One of the things yogis can congratulate themselves on is good posture. I’ve been singled out in crowds because of my straight back – a good signature for a yoga teacher….
No matter how hard you’ve worked your forward and backward bends, there comes a time when you have to work that much harder just because of advancing years. Gravity has a unfortunate effect on so many body parts over time, and one of them is the spinal column.
The results of long computer sessions, especially if your ergonimic environment is not suitable, will also have a deleterious impact.
I have a piece of equipment in the Yoga Shed which we affectionately call The Rack. Actually, it looks like a beached whale formed out of timber. People are attracted to the backbender like bees to pollen; lying over it releases copious sighs of letting go and endorphins, causing any incipient kyphotic tendencies t0 evaporate. Everyone should have a backbender, but then, everyone should have a yoga studio, too.
In the absence of studio and bender, here’s a few poses for you to try when you’re finding it’s hard to square your shoulders and open your chest:
• Shoulder girdle press – Lying on your back, bent legs, feet hip width apart. Inhale and open your chest, exhale and press your shoulders and backs of your arms into the floor. Repeat 5 times.
• Pelvic Tilts – Lying down on your back with bent legs, feet hipwidth apart, press your arms down by your sides, and lift your hips. Repeat 5 times.
• Locust – Lie on your belly, legs straight back, head straight forward. Stretch your arms forward, making a v-shape of them. Exhale draw your shoulder blades down, inhale raise up head, neck, chest, and arms, exhale down. Rest. Take a complete breath, and then repeat 5 times. Rest. With the same breathing rhythm and this time with your arms out to the sides from your shoulders, raise and lower for 5 times.
• Jatara Parivartanasana – Lie on your back, knees bent, feet hip width apart, arms out the side. Tuck your knees in towards your chest and then take them to the right, turning your neck to the left. Take a few breaths feeling for a gentle twist in your back and hips. Come back to centre and repeat on the other side.
• Savasana with a chair – Lie down with your lower legs on the seat of a chair, your head resting on a folded blanket, and your arms out to the side. Your thighs will be almost vertical. Close your eyes and rest for 5 – 10 minutes.
Make sure, as always, that you allow for enough time in savasana as it is not only relaxing and restorative, but it gives you time to integrate the sequence.