people postureAn Aha Moment…

I just had this crazy idea that traveling would be good for one’s posture. It came right after I had a major “Aha” moment while doing yoga.

Have you ever had one of those? They just come out of nowhere in response to some seemingly benign comment or scene. And then it is like…bam! Everything makes sense.

Sometimes I don’t even really remember the exact words that were said, just the general mind-blowing energy of it.

So here is what happened:

I was moving along with an online yoga set to help alleviate neck pain. My neck had really be hurting lately on account of a dumb idea I had to walk the Oceanside Pier last week with a 20 pound backpack slung over my shoulders  (yes, my laptop was in the backpack).

I was pinched and achy and boy was I willing to try anything…

Then came the words (paraphrased) that sparked a mini revolution inside: “The little muscles in your neck naturally want to curve child slouchingup. They will attempt to do this when you slouch until they become fatigued.”

farm workers posture

photo credit: Flickr AU-ZUT

Suddenly I saw my entire life of being hunched in front of a computer flash before me. I saw my mom and my brother hunched over their computers too. I saw my dad hunched over a skill saw. I saw my partner hunched over a broken pipe at The Texan Resort. I saw migrant workers hunched over row after row of strawberries waiting to be picked. I saw teachers hunched over papers that needed to be graded. I saw moms hunched over their kids. I saw those kids a little later on in life hunched over papers and pencils, slouching at their desks…

fast-food-438659_1920I saw people on the street hunched over smart phones. I saw folks at restaurants slouched over their food.person hunching smartphone

I realized that probably 99% of the things we do these days from about age 5 on has a good deal of hunching to it.

And so what? We all have back problems and neck problems. We are a world of slouchers.

Tell us something we don’t already know.

Here is where the AHA came in for me:

classroom-467730_1920All that hunching and slouching literally prevents the heart from opening! And when the heart is not open, that means it is closed. And when the heart is closed, that means YOU and I are closed off from life!

Wow.

Now On To the Point…

So what the heck does this have to do with traveling being good for your posture?

This might sound like a crazy idea but just hear me out:

Travel can be an excellent (and super fun) way to PRACTICE rolling your shoulders back, opening girl travel postureup your chest, holding your chin up and LOOKING THE WORLD DIRECTLY IN THE EYE.

The amazing thing about doing this when you travel is that what you see will be all new to you.

You will be amazed, shocked, tantalized and inspired by your travel sights like never before.

And when you get back to the normalcy of your day-to-day life, you will see things in a different way there too because you will have been practicing the subtle yet extremely powerful practice of looking the world smack dab in the eye.

travel perspectiveYour posture will be better. Your breathing will be better. Your perspective will be better. Heck, if you have neck and shoulder pain on a regular basis like I do, maybe that will be better too.

I guess my Aha moment had a lot to do with the profound way slouching has affected me in my life as well as the fact that we have an epidemic of “slouchedness” in our society today:

It is an epidemic of floor-gazing.

It is an epidemic of downward momentum.

It is an epidemic of fear that prevents us from looking up at the beautiful vistas all around us.

It is an epidemic that keeps us focused on the past, not on what is happening now.

It is an epidemic of not being willing to look up at a future that could be filled breath, space, freedom, love and heart-centered abundance.

It is an epidemic that has closed our hearts as a society, both physically and energetically.

But my little AHA moment also had a Part Two:

That part was about how simple it could be to fix it.  

 

TRY THIS:

(Inspired by Ashleigh Sargeant’s “Anusara for Head, Neck, and-Shoulders” yoga class on Gaia.com)

Stand in front of a full-length mirror if you have one. If not, that is okay. Your feet should be a little less than shoulder-width a part.

mountain pose

photo credit: gaia.com

Put your arms out straight by your sides with your palms facing front and your fingers energized. This stance is called Mountain Pose in yoga and will automatically cause your shoulders to move gently back, opening up your chest and exposing your heart.

Consciously lift your chin so that your gaze is straight ahead and a little upwards. This may feel awkward at first but keep in mind that doing this is actually relieving the strain on the little muscles in the back of your neck that get stressed when the chin is down.

Take a slow, full breath. Imagine that that breath is moving from your hips all the way up through your ribs to your heart and chest. Imagine that the breath is opening up your rib cage so that there is space in between every single rib and that the breath is elongating your sidebody while it energizes and brightens your core. Imagine that the breath is opening up your chest and your heart too. Actually feel this taking place as you take in a slow, full breath.

As you slowly exhale, imagine that your heart is softening.

Practice breathing in and out this way at least three times.

Take a moment afterwards to feel what has happened inside and out.

Then smile with your chin held high. 🙂

You can do this whenever you are feeling strain in your neck or when you are feeling “strained” by anything that is happening in your life in general. If you are working on a computer, set an alarm to get up and stretch (by doing this or another neck and shoulder lengthening exercise) at least every half hour. A great online timer I use is at http://www.e.ggtimer.com/

 

If you have neck and shoulder issues or if you decide to try the above exercise, I would love to hear any insights you would like to share in the Comments section below!