Shall I let you in about a bugbear of mine? Perpetual hunching in ‘Forward head posture’ or ‘tech neck’.
It pains me to see people looking down at the ground or at a screen instead of at the world around them! It’s rife right now as people spend more and more time craning at laptops and devices.
It’s a protective, guarded posture rather than a heart-open one.
We need an upright connection of the spine. When it comes too far forward, not only does it load the spine and put pressure on the discs, ligaments and muscles, it also affects fluid flow throughout the body. Headaches, neck pain and upper back tension are common symptoms that you might finding yourself suffering from. In many cases, they can be easily prevented and treated.
The contents of the chest are precious: the heart, lungs, liver, stomach and diaphragm are all housed here. And because they are so precious, they are protected by the dome-shaped thoracic cage: ribs, sternum and vertebrae. Despite the word, ‘cage’, this structure needs to be fluidic and malleable rather than fixed and rigid.
The contents of the chest are precious (…) The way that we carry our bodies has an impact on the function of these organs
For meditators, it’s noticeable that an upright spine helps to feel more connection between the pelvis and the skull. This is important for the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, for greater calm and rest, via the cranial and sacral nerves.
In osteopathy, the clavicles (collar-bones) hold great importance, especially in relation to the shoulder girdles. Once they become tight and restricted, there’s a noticeable loss of ease and movement of the arms, scapulae (shoulder-blades) and thorax. The apex of the lungs reach a little higher than the clavicles, so for those that adopt a ‘tech-neck’ posture, the breath isn’t optimal.
The way that we carry our bodies has an impact on the function of these organs. And it’s not just about physical function.
Have you noticed that when you feel down, your chest sinks inwards? Heartsink is a literal and not just descriptive term. The sternum drops inwards and the shoulder girdles curl in. Compare this feeling with imagining yourself on holiday in a warm destination. Your shoulders will quickly drop down and your chest will open!
The fourth energy centre or heart chakra, ‘Anahata’ is located in the chest.
It mediates between the body and spirit. Emotionally the heart centre is about compassion, giving and receiving. This area of our bodies relates to how we perceive beauty, express ourselves, create and make. When the heart centre is closed, it makes it hard to be in intimate connection with others. Fears of loneliness and commitment are often held in this area of the body. Goodness knows the world needs more open-hearted, compassionate people right now.
It’s never too late to start opening your heart and chest
It takes awareness, repetition and practice to change posture and open the chest. It’s never too late to start opening your heart and chest. Here are some simple suggestions:
Tips and an exercise to open the chest:
Imagine you’re a prince or princess wearing a crown on your head. You’ll instantly adopt a more regal, upright posture.
- Lie on the floor with your arms outstretched as if you’re making ‘snow angels’. This can also be done over a foam roller, bolster or pilates ball to accentuate the opening in the chest. Or stand against a wall with your heels, shoulders and back of the head in a vertical line. This helps to correct a forward-head posture.
- Drop your awareness into your heart-space when you make a decision – listen to your heart and it will serve you well.
- Wear comfortable, tactile fabrics on your skin to encourage your posture to open up.
Avni is a Women’s health osteopath from our Camden centre. A keen meditator and interested in yoga, ayurveda and anything to do with the mind, body, energy, emotions and spirit. Avni has an intuitive and practical style that can be both strong and gentle. Also trained in zero balancing, family constellations, NLP, medical acupuncture, cranial osteopathy, reiki and shiatsu, she offers osteopathy for babies, children and adults on Tuesdays 12.30-4.30 and Thursdays 8am-12pm. See her full schedule at triyoga here.