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Break out of your computer body while there’s still time

Do you ever find yourself hunched over your keyboard, shoulders up around your ears and a dull ache taking hold in your upper back?

Yeah, me too.

That’s why this simple chest opening is one of my favorite five-minute yoga breaks, and also one of my favorite ways to ease into a practice.

The older you are, the more important it is to put yourself, every day, into a position that reverses your computer posture. But it’s never too soon to start. If you work at a computer, you’re plenty old enough.

For those of you who would rather read than watch a video, here are my instructions in brief:

Sit with your buttocks at one end of your mat, and a wood or dense foam brick to the side, within arms reach, in line with your shoulders.

Then lie back with the massage balls on either side of your upper spine, as close to your neck as possible, and lift your pelvis to roll back so the balls come an inch or two lower.

I like to take a moment here, rolling my upper back on the massage balls, looking for a little instant relief.

When that’s done, it’s time for the one tricky part: to get the lift and opening of your front chest, you need to have your weight on your shoulder blades as you roll further.

The way to get that weight is to lift your pelvis and push into your feet.

Make sure your shoulders are being dragged away from your ears as you continue to roll back. By the time your shoulders are resting on the floor, the balls will come to the very bottom of your shoulder blades.

With your elbows bent, palms facing and upper arms close to your sides, press your upper arms down into the floor to lift your chest more.

Keep your pelvis lifted, your knees bent, your feet hip distance apart, and slightly toed in.

Now, mentally divide your hamstrings in two, crosswise, then from that line, pull your upper hamstrings toward your buttocks. That action will help you lift your pelvis higher.

When you’re ready for a more restful pose, put the brick, on its medium height, under your pelvis.
Then relax, keeping just enough of the action in your arms to hold your chest in a broad and open position.

Stay here for as long as you like, enjoying the freedom of breathing into an open ribcage.

Don’t have massage balls?
You can also do this chest opening over a rolled blanket.

Start with your neck on the rolled blanket, and roll backwards, keeping enough pressure on your shoulder blades to drag them away from your ears. You’ll miss the joy of all those little massage-ball fingers in your upper back, but you’ll get the most important part of the chest opening.

Regular readers of this blog will note that this is my second video post. (Many thanks to Diane Park for shooting, editing, and hand-holding.)

No, I’m not going to start posting a new video every week – from my experience so far, that could be a full-time job. Still, I’m having fun exploring a new medium of expression.

I’m curious, do you like the video format? Would you rather read than watch? Or watch than read?
Let me know what you think.

And if you do like this video, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social site you like to use.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • lisa t September 16, 2012, 3:51 pm

    hi. i thought i wasn’t going to like the videos, being a somewhat ‘old timer’ myself and a big reader, but it was very nice for this purpose. i have been a very long distance admirer for a long time. fabulous presentation of information and i thank you.

    i was curious about this video and what size massage balls you use?

    • Eve September 20, 2012, 11:18 am

      Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad to hear you like the videos. The massage balls are about four inches in diameter, perhaps twice the size of tennis balls, and a little softer.

  • Loura Y September 15, 2012, 8:10 am

    Hi Eve,
    I love the videos! I am a visual learner, the video is very helpful and I feel it very much like in the class with you. Thank you for sharing your bottomless knowledge and resources. Namaste

    • Eve September 15, 2012, 3:38 pm

      Hey Loura,
      Thanks for this. See you on Sunday, when we really will be in class together.

  • Terra September 14, 2012, 5:03 pm

    The video is super. It inspired me to try this last night . I am going for a 2nd round right now.

    • Eve September 15, 2012, 3:36 pm

      Hey Terra,
      Well, that’s encouraging – it’s supposed to get you practicing. . . . I hope it becomes a daily event.

  • grant richards September 14, 2012, 12:11 pm

    Maybe it’s from force of habit, being an oldster – my preference is the written word. I find reading draws from an inner kinesthetic self – the words transmuting into image-inary movement – seems to have stronger ‘staying power’ than a video image. But as you say, nothing can substitute for the real thing – a live, in-class experience with an Iyengar teacher – by showing, the verbal instructions, the refining of subtler adjustments that a video can’t really do justice (to).
    Maybe you need to become a hologram, Eve, and step into all our living rooms!
    Thanks for the fine instructions – AND video.

    • Eve September 14, 2012, 1:14 pm

      Ah, Grant, new technological frontiers. . . . I think the hologram is going to be beyond me for a very long time.
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. As a fellow “oldster” I’ve resisted video for a long time. For one thing, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t already spend enough time looking at a computer screen.
      But I also know that we all learn in different ways, and that for many people, seeing the moving video image makes things a lot more clear than reading – especially when it’s physical instructions.
      Agreed, nothing replaces the experience of being in a class – being seen, I suspect, might be even more important than seeing.

  • Judy Russell PT September 14, 2012, 11:46 am

    Love, love, love this video demonstration. Can’t tell you how many people that I see will benefit from this. Thanks again Eve. Cheers, Judy

    • Eve September 14, 2012, 1:17 pm

      Hey Judy,
      Thanks so much. Really, it’s true, yoga for a broad and open chest is something we can all use.
      Hey, since I haven’t seen you, congratulations on the Canadian women’s soccer team’s Olympic medal. I know your excellent care helped get them onto the podium.

  • Katja September 14, 2012, 5:55 am

    Dear Eve,

    thank you so much for your very helpful yoga tips. I will definitely try this
    method —the video post is very helpful!
    Namaste, KH

    • Eve September 14, 2012, 1:18 pm

      Hi Katja,
      I’m glad you found the video helpful. Just remember that, as simple as it looks, there’s some skill in rolling down the massage balls, and a bit more in rolling on the blanket. So stick with it – let me know how it goes.

  • Irene hassard September 13, 2012, 8:32 pm

    I can really identify with upper back challenges – I am going to try this pose for a while and look forward to the changes. I like your video posting – visual learning is great

    • Eve September 14, 2012, 1:21 pm

      Hi Irene,
      Thanks for commenting. Best of luck with your work on your upper back. Keeping the thoracic spine long and flexible is such an important part of aging well. I’d love to hear how it goes – keep me posted.

  • Barbara Kuhne September 13, 2012, 7:54 pm

    I love the videos!


    • Eve September 14, 2012, 1:21 pm

      Ah, Barbara,
      Thanks for the vote of confidence. That’s encouraging.

  • ilona September 13, 2012, 6:02 pm

    I appreciate the videos! It’s helpful to see proper alignment and positioning so that the poses heal rather than hurt. Thank you so much for posting.

    • Eve September 14, 2012, 1:22 pm

      Hi Ilona,
      Thanks for responding, and for your appreciation of the video. I hope it proves very useful to you.