All of that modern technology that you eyeball 18 hours a day could be the reason your back is “killing” you. In fact, if you own a smartphone, chances are you already suffer from “text neck,” and could wind up with long-term damage—such as arthritis—to your spine from looking down at your phone too much. To counteract this potentially harmful position, try these five delicious neck stretching/chest opening poses demonstrated by our guest yogi, Donna Sorce. “It’s important to cultivate the natural curve of your spine and neck,” she advises. “And these five poses address that very thing.” Now turn off your phone, close your eyes, and enjoy these revitalizing poses. They are the perfect antidote to tech hunching.
What you’ll need
A mat and two blocks
For the Pose
• Hold each pose for five to ten deep breaths, inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
• Keep your eyes closed or your gaze soft.
• Smile, relax, and enjoy the process.
1 Extended Puppy Pose
Benefits: Stretches the spine and shoulders, opens the chest, and shuts out the world.
Instructions: Begin in tabletop position, your hips over your knees, then walk your hands as far forward as you can, pushing your chest down toward the mat. Press your palms into the floor, spreading your fingers, and reach your hips back so you can feel the openness in your armpits and shoulders. Hold for two minutes and you’ll feel as if your mind is on reset. Release by walking your hands back to tabletop.
Remember: Pressing your forehead into the mat is like giving yourself a massage, unfurrowing the brow. Almost like natural Botox!
To go deeper: Push your hips back as far as you can reach and lower your chest onto the mat for a bigger stretch.
2 Supported Bridge Pose
Benefits: Relieves fatigue, reverses gravity to your legs and feet, calms your soul.
Instructions: Lie down on your mat, bend your knees and bring your feet as close to the sit bones as possible. Raise your hips off the floor and place your block in the lower back area—adjust the block’s position to get comfortable. Clasp your hands around the block. Hold for as long as is comfortable, the longer the better. Remove block, lower your hips, straighten your legs, and rest in corpse pose.
To go deeper: Once you’ve found your balance on the block, slowly raise your legs one at a time until they’re straight above your hips, and point your toes to the ceiling. Rest and breathe. To come out of the pose, lower one foot at a time, remove the block, and rest in corpse pose.
To make it easier: You can place a pillow or bolster under your hips and do this pose against a wall. It’s more passive but still very restorative.
3 Fish Pose
Benefits: Opens shoulders and chest, counteracts tech hunch.
Instructions: Lie on your back with your straight arms directly underneath your torso, so you’re lying on top of your arms, with thumbs touching or as close as possible. Start lifting your chest toward the ceiling while resting on your forearms and elbows, arching your back. Drop your head backward but keep it off the ground. Close your eyes and breathe.
Remember: This isn’t a very energetic pose, so keep your feet flexed to increase the dynamism.
To go deeper: For an extra stretch, try to get your elbows to touch behind your back. The closer they are the more you’ll open your chest and heart.
4 Heart Opener Pose with blocks
Benefits: Revitalizes your energy, reverses tech hunching, and is excellent for posture.
Instructions: It’s a little tricky to get into this pose but so worth it! Blocks have three heights, the tallest will go under your head, the second tallest sits at the bottom of the shoulder blades, and your hips are on the floor. You want to create a nice diagonal line from your head to your hips. Again, make adjustments for comfort, as it should feel like they’re not even there. Start in a sitting pose, bring the soles of your feet together, and lower your knees to the ground. Lean back, resting on the properly placed blocks. Let your arms rest across the floor. Relax.
Remember: Once you’ve done this a couple of times, you will have muscle memory and know exactly where the blocks should be placed.
To make it easier: Put pillows or blankets under your knees if your hips start to cramp and to support your knees.
5 Standing Side Stretch (or Mountain Pose Taken to the Side)
Benefits: An easy but very potent pose, improves posture and balance, and is a lovely stretch for the neck and upper body.
Instructions: Stand with feet together, big toes touching. Straighten your arms and clasp your hands above your head, keeping your arms next to your ears. Maintaining soft shoulders, neck, and jaw, lean left making sure your navel is coming into the spine. Hold for five breaths. Repeat on right side.
Remember: Don’t arch your back. Keep a long lower back.
To go deeper: Try it with your eyes closed to challenge your balance.
To make it easier: For more secure balance, stand with your feet hip-width apart.