Correct slouching with yoga! (an anatomical perspective)

Slouching is common in city dwellers, especially when most of us work long hours in front of a computer. It leads to a tight upper back and chest which exerts unnecessary stress on our vertebrae and neck. As a result, an individual falls prey to stiffness, muscle tension and even headache.

When we slouch, our head is not in line with our spine but juts forward and tilts down. At the back it keeps our trapezius, splenius, longissimus, and rhomboideus in a perpetually stretched position. On the anterior side, the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, subclavius, and sternalis muscles become is held in a strongly contracted state and pull on the shoulder. This brings our upper arm in a slight forward rotation.

Besides showing a lack of confidence, slouching also implicates the circulation in our body as the forward collapse compresses on our vessels, nerves and windpipe. It is important for us to put in time everyday to undo the effects of our postural mistakes so that we do not suffer the long term consequences.

Simple exercises to consider:

Stretches

Gomukhasana arms (pulling elbows in opposite direction): Beneficial for stretching the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, subclavius, and sternalis muscles more at the lower arm

Recline with a block between shoulder blades (at its highest height): Stretches the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, subclavius, and sternalis muscles at both sides in this relaxing pose.

Muscle strengthening

Cobra pose: Beneficial in contracting and strengthening the trapezius, splenius, longissimus, and rhomboideus.

Bow pose: Strengthens the trapezius, splenius, longissimus, and rhomboideus while the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, subclavius, and sternalis muscles get a good lengthening from the backward pull.

 

Jo-an Ng (200hr weekend) – yoga anatomy