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.