As the pandemic continues to disrupt our lives in many ways, the most privileged among us have been provided with the opportunity to ditch the traditional office and settle for ‘work from home’. While it obviously comes with its own sets of benefits but the lack of an ergonomically designed setup can severely affect posture leading to text neck syndrome or other back and neck issues. If you’re glancing down at a device, the head angles towards the device, and when that happens, the neck is pulled down. Nowadays, it all gets compounded by the fact that most of us physically hold stress as muscle tension in our necks and traps.
Some of the symptoms of Text Neck Syndrome are distressing pain in the neck and shoulders, stiffness/tightness in the shoulders and neck leading to difficulty in moving, intermittent, constant headaches, nerve pain with tingling, and numbness in the upper limbs and eye pain.
A long-time antidote to both stress and muscle mayhem, yoga can actually help with your neck pain. Here are some effective yoga poses to deal with text neck syndrome.
Chakravakasana (Cat-Cow Pose)
It’s a basic yoga pose but it can be enormously beneficial in supporting the back, easing pain, and maintaining a healthy spine, especially if you are spending a lot of time sitting. It can help you improve your balance and posture.
How to do:
• Start on all fours, with wrists under the shoulders and knees under the hips.
• While exhaling, arch the back and round the spine toward the ceiling.
• Hold the pose for 3 breaths, letting the head hang heavy between the arms.
• While inhaling, lift the tailbone and roll the shoulders back. Gaze up and allow the belly to sink toward the floor.
• Repeat 10–12 times.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose)
The standing forward bend pose is extremely beneficial in improving posture and alignment. It is also an effective pose for those who wish to improve the strength of the spine and knees.
How to do:
• Stand erect with your feet hip-width apart.
• While inhaling raise the arms over the head. Keep the arms straight and shoulder-width apart.
• While exhaling, bend forward from the waist and rest the palm on the floor on either side of the feet.
• Move your chest towards your thighs and lift the hip and tail bone.
• Breathe normally, allowing the head to hang toward the floor.
• Hold for 4–6 breaths.
• While inhaling, release the pose.
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Bhujangasana, also known as Cobra Pose, is a backward bending asana that strengthens the vertebral column and brings increased flexibility to the shoulder, abdomen, thorax, and lungs.
How to do:
• Lie flat on the abdomen with the feet together.
• Place the palms on the ground directly under the shoulders. Bend the elbows straight back and hug them into the sides.
• While inhaling, lift the chest off the floor. Roll the shoulders back and keep the navel on the floor. Put equal pressure on the palms.
• Bend the head back and look up.
• Hold the position for 30-45 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor with an exhalation.
AdhoMukhaSvanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
When you practice this pose with the head in neutral alignment, it may counteract the damage caused by the text neck and re-articulate the natural curve of the cervical spine. However you should be careful; if you let your head hang down toward the floor, the pose could actually exacerbate the symptoms of text neck. Aim to keep the head in line with your spine.
How to do:
• Lie down keeping the stomach face down and maintain a distance of one foot between the legs.
• Keep the palms next to the chest.
• Exhale and press the palms down to raise your body up and straighten your knees and arms.
• Now slowly move the head inwards and simultaneously your feet a little forward and push the heels down to bring the body in an inverted “V” shape.
• Ensure the legs are straight and the knees are not bent.
• Retain this pose for 1 minute with deep breathing.
• Bring the head which is inward and slowly lie down and relax.
Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)
Ustrasana is a backbend that stretches the whole front of the body. Practicing Ushtrasana daily can be a great way to relieve neck and back pain caused by slouching in front of a computer or driving.
How to do:
• Kneel on the ground with the legs stretched at the back and put both hands on your hips.
• As you inhale, raise the arms above the head.
• While exhaling, draw the tailbone towards your pubis, bend back to form an arch, and at the same time place the palms on the feet for support.
• Keep the hands erect and do not put pressure on the neck.
• Breathe in and out while holding this pose for 10 to 15 seconds.
Neck pain is very common, with nearly one in three individuals affected by it once a year. With proper lifestyle choices and regular practice of these yoga poses, it is easy to beat neck pain and live a happy, healthy, and pain-free life. Also, if people are mindful of their posture while using phones & laptops they can largely prevent this issue. In the longer run, if avoided, text neck syndrome can result in cervical pain, headaches, and thoracic hyperkyphosis.
(By Dr. Rajeev Rajesh, Chief Yoga Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute)
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