Kyphosis – Combating a rounding of the Upper Spine
In todays world we tend to spend large amounts of time in front of screens, driving cars, and generally stooping forwards which can play havoc with our posture and the spine itself. In a normal adult whom is standing erect the spine should curve naturally in four parts, it begins curving forwards slightly beginning at the head, then slightly backwards sweeping under the shoulders, then again forwards around the mid body and again backwards to the tail bone. However due to lifestyles often it is the case that the curve backward at the top of the back and shoulders becomes exaggerated, giving a forward rounding of the shoulders and even a hunch to the upper back, some rounding is normal but an exaggerated rounding is known as Kyphosis. This condition can be common is such people as teachers who are stooping over children all day or guitar players, drivers and office workers. However the regular practice of certain yogic asana (postures) can help to combat the problem and improve posture and indeed the general health of the whole spine. It is an old Chinese proverb that the healthier the spine the healthier the mind and the younger we become, so if you feel you are beginning to slouch then these three postures practiced regularly and with the right intention will gently help to bring the spine back into alignment.
Dhanurasan - Bow Pose
This posture is a backward bending pose that lifts both halves of the body at the same time, it opens the heart, draws the shoulders back, strengthens the abdominal muscles and gives relief to the upper back. Actually this posture has many benefits including working with the digestive system, the reproductive system in women, it is great for people suffering with diabetes but in the case of kyphosis it keeps the whole spine elastic and that region of the whole spine is expanded, the chest is broadened and the pectorals are stretched. Lie on your tummy with your legs apart, bend your knees and catch hold of your ankles from the outside. On an inhalation push your feet and knees up into the air and at the same time lift your upper body pushing your head back. Hold for as long as is comfortable, then on an exhalation come back down to the mat. Repeat several times. Note this posture should not be practiced by pregnant women.
Matsyasan – Fish Pose
This pose stretches out the shortened muscles in the shoulders and the chest and helps to eradicate the hardened fascia or connective tissues in that area. Also it strengthens the muscles in the upper back and increases the blood supply to these parts. There are also benefits here for people suffering with asthma as it throws the chest open and increase the strength and capacity of the lungs. Lie flat on your back and take the arms underneath your body, palms flat down to the mat and elbows as close together as possible. The feet are together and the legs straight. As you inhale push on your elbows and raise the upper body up, then drop the head back until the crown of the head is connecting with the mat, pushing your chest and heart upward. Breathe deeply whilst in the pose and hold for as long is as comfortable.
Variation of Bhujangasan – Cobra Pose
By bringing the arms behind you in this version of cobra it really helps to strengthen weak upper-back and neck muscles. The connective tissues from the chin to the abdomen are stretched. Lie on your tummy legs and feet together, take your arms behind your back keeping them straight and clasp your hands together. With an inhalation lift your head and chest upward off of the floor and keep the arms parallel with the floor, hold for up to 30 seconds breathing, then on the exhalation come back down and repeat several times. Again this posture shouldn’t be practiced if you are pregnant an alternative is Ustrasan – the camel pose using the support of your hands to your lumber, lower back or if strength is there purvottanasan – the inclined plain, which to soften you can have the knees bent.
Enjoy your practice and feel better and better with beautiful posture.
Let the life shine through you
For now Om Om shanti Om
Mangala / Nicky