I spend anywhere between 4 to 5 hours sitting in front of a computer… an hour or two, behind the wheel of a car… and admittedly, an hour or so watching a movie or TV. That adds up to about 8 hours of a seated posture, head forward and tilted up.
Kind of like this:
It’s no wonder my yoga postures often mimic this tilted, head forward-and-up position in seated and standing postures alike. Ugh!
I’ve heard teachers ask me to “imagine a string, gently pulling my head towards the ceiling.” Yeah, right. With the amount of time this puppet spends in her head, she needs more like a crane and a cable!
OR as it turns out… a finger.
Ross Rayburn was recently in DC offering a therapeutic training for yoga teachers. He had us do this little exercise: reach back and find that big nob of a vertebrae at the base of our neck (C7?) and work our fingers up the smaller vertebrae/nobs on the back of the neck until we find the one that is noticeably sunken – for me, this is C3. Then we used our finger to give a little pressure on that nob for us to press back into.
The result? The head lifts as opposed to the chin, stacking it magically over the shoulders. Kind of like a string was gently pulling my head towards the ceiling. (That’s sort of a joke!) Of course, no action occurs in a vacuum thus this had a ripple effect down the body. My shoulders relaxed once the weight of my head was evenly balanced and centered and those “floating ribs” began to sink back in towards he spine. I even noticed some relief in the lower back as the belly naturally sucked in a bit not because I was asking it to – it was just a natural “drawing in” prompted by that same “drawing in” I had initiated higher up.
I decided to try this little exercise with my daughter, the photographer. The gal who, between her camera and her computer, spends more time in headforwardtiltedasana than almost anyone I know. She recently went to a chiropractor because of back pain. He told her to try yoga… to which she responded by showing him her best eyerollasana.
Ok, perhaps I’m exaggerating that experience but I promise you that the picture below is no exaggeration. It wasn’t staged for dramatic effect. Just us, sitting in her bedroom, experimenting with this new finger technique introduced by Ross. And she never even had to roll out a mat.
Sure, you could say the postures of yoga help us posture ourselves better in life. And I believe this – but I also believe, given the time proportion, that’s definitely the tortoise approach in more ways than one. So since I’m not getting any younger, I’m not waiting to roll out a mat to give my posture(s) the ol’ one finger salute.