By Angela Travaglini, owner of Sol Yoga Studio in Conshochocken, PA
The inspiration behind this blog? Just last week my 3 yr old niece asked my sister and I if we could massage her neck. When we did we noticed a little knot there that made her wiggle every time we touched it. She just like other kids her age, love the iPad. They know how to use it better than most adults! HA!
Anyway, we’ve all seen it and or felt it at any age. Tension in the back of the neck, shoulders tight, knots everywhere. Looking up seems to be more of an effort and feels awkward.
There is actually a name for it these days: Text Neck! What is it? It’s called attachment to our devices, where we look down more than up. They are our everything, our all in one device: radio, camera, tv, GPS, clock, notepad, calculator etc. We can’t function without these devices! We see kids sitting on a bus, with headphones on, slouched over staring down at their phones. We see people at the gym, mid workout who are looking down texting away. People cross the street without even looking because they are glued to their screen. And texting drivers….. they are the worst ones! That is a whole other topic in and of itself!
Looking down more than up has also affected our social skills. Looking around the waiting room in a service center or at the doctor’s office, everyone is on their phones not making eye contact and totally oblivious as to what is going on. Standing in line at Target or Giant, same thing. No one smiling or saying hi. Just glued to the screen multi-tasking. What are we teaching our kids?
I actually was walking thru Whole Foods recently and saw an elderly man standing near the cheese section. Now, while my list of things to get at the store is on a notepad on my phone, I am still mindful of the space around me. I looked him right in the eye, smiled big and said hello. He smiled back, looking stunned. I go on my way and I hear him say, “Excuse me, ma’am?!” I turned around and he said, “Can I ask you something?” I nod yes and he says “Are you a spiritual person?” I smiled and said “Yes, I’d like to think so as I work on my spirituality every day. I teach and practice yoga. And I meditate every day.” He said “I knew it. I have been standing here waiting for my wife just watching people walk by. You were the only one not looking at your phone and on top of it made eye contact, smiled and said hi. It made me feel good. Thank you for that. I knew you had to be spiritual. Your light was contagious.” Seriously, that man made my day.
Yoga Poses that Alleviate Tension in the Neck
If you’re one of the 64% of American adults who owns a smartphone, start looking up now. Staring down at your phone can put incredible pressure on your neck and spine. Tilting your head forward 15 degrees places an additional 27 pounds of stress on the cervical spine. A 60-degree angle — the angle at which most of us view our phones — increases that stress to 60 pounds. That’s like carrying around a seven-year-old on your neck! Tablets also encourage you to flex your head forward. And, with bigger screens, you’re more likely to stay in that position for longer periods of time. Here are some poses you can do to alleviate the tension in the neck.
Downward Facing Dog
Instead of looking forward, keep the gaze between the knees to help the neck relax.
Standing Forward fold
Too many times students are looking at the top of their mats in a standing forward fold. Be mindful to tuck the chin and let the gaze be at the legs. Maybe shake your head a gentle yes and/or no to release any more tension that you may be feeling.
While slouching results in overstretched and feeble upper back muscles, it also leads to short and weak pecs. Stand in a doorway and place your forearms against the frame of the door, with your elbows at shoulder height. With one foot forward, draw your shoulder blades together on your back and gently lean into the door. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat once more. Do this stretch three to four times a day.
I feel any pose such as this one that helps us look up and stretch out the front of the neck, shoulders, chest and throat is really helpful. Start on your knees with your hands on your hips, elbows facing back. You can always bring your hands to heart center too, as pictured here. Knees are hip width apart. Keeping your hips aligned over your knees, just start to take the gaze slowly upward, just
enough to feel the stretch. Keep the hips pressing forward and maybe bring the elbows a little closer behind you to help open the chest more. Take 5 breaths and come out slowly, taking a down dog to rinse it out.
Notice your surroundings. Put your phone down. You will live, I promise. Smile and make eye contact. It could change someone’s day. And when you do use your device, keep it at eye level.
Related Power Yoga Blog – Finding the Balance in the Busy! By a Conshohocken Yoga Studio Instructor