Smartphones have taken over not only our lives, but also our physical bodies. We spend many minutes or even hours during the day looking down, whether sitting, standing, or walking. If you’re feeling a bit stiff, here are a few simple yoga poses that take no longer than the time needed to send off a couple of texts.
- Neck Stretch and Roll
You can do this pose either sitting or standing. Start by interlocking your fingers behind your skull with your pinkies right at the bottom of the cranium. Keep your elbows close together as you press your hands up against your skull. Slowly look up, keeping the back of your neck long. Count to five. Then, keeping your hands clasped, slowly rotate your head first in a clockwise circle, and then in a counterclockwise circle. Come back to look straight ahead, and release your hands.
- Seated Backbend
Sit in a chair and hold on to the base of the backrest. Push down on the chair as you draw your shoulder blades together and lift your chest. Slowly look up at the ceiling, bending in your upper back. Inhale deeply. Count five breaths, then exhale and release.
- Hands over the Head Pose
Stand with your legs two to three feet apart. Interlace your fingers behind you and fold forward. Slowly lift your hands up behind you, keeping the fingers interlaced. When you’ve reached your maximum, breathe for five counts and then come back to standing, releasing your hands.
- Seated Twist
With your feet placed solidly on the floor, chair’s width apart, place your right arm across the top of the backrest. Place your left hand on your right knee. Lift your spine up as you pull yourself into a twist, by pushing on your right knee with your left hand. Help turn your right shoulder back behind you by pulling on the backrest. After five breaths, gently release the twist and do the other side.
- Table Pose
Place your hands on a table or counter, or on a wall at about hip height. Step back until you’re folded over with your feet under your hips and your back relatively parallel to the floor. If this causes a strong stretch in your hamstrings, take your hands higher on the wall or onto a higher surface. Keep your arms straight and look straight down at the floor. Turn your head to look at your right arm, then your left. Step forward to come out of the pose.
After doing these simple poses, shake the tension out of your body and stand tall. Our bodies have evolved to stand this way. Since we spend so much time looking down and hunching over, it’s only healthy to balance ourselves out once in a while. It’s unlikely we’ll stop using our smartphones and computers so much, so give your body a break.
Rebecca Taggart has been an Iyengar yoga teacher in San Francisco for the past 20 years. She enjoys writing about yoga, but finds that she looks down at her iPhone and computer too much.