As I’ve mentioned, I’ve suffered a number of stress related illnesses over the years. Still do, to some extent. I don’t think there’s any dispute that yoga helps relieve stress. One of the physical issues that yoga has helped me with, that I didn’t even realize would happen, is a marked improvement in my posture and shoulders.
I don’t come from a family with good posture. I realized I had bad posture but didn’t really know what to do about it. I didn’t realize that my back and shoulder muscles were weak, that my core was weak, or that I could fix it. For a long time I was very concerned about getting rounded or hunched as I aged.
As I followed my path through teacher training, I became aware that my shoulders were not as tired as they used to be. Angel has worked with me consistently to both strengthen and loosen my shoulders. Oh, how I struggled. My shoulders felt encased in concrete. I couldn’t, just couldn’t, bring the tips of my shoulder blades together. I took a workshop in restorative poses for the shoulders and spent quite a bit of time with Gary Kraftsow’s book, Yoga for Wellness. Although I’ve heard it a million times, one day fairly recently I heard my teacher say in class “broaden your collarbone”. For all the times that I’ve been told to slide my shoulder blades down my back, bring the tips of my shoulderblades together, nothing made as much sense as “broaden your collarbone”.
When you broaden your collarbone, you open the heart center and the chest. Your shoulders roll back and down and the shoulderblades slide down the back. All you have to do is lengthen the tailbone down and voila! your posture is improved!
The core: let’s face it, we’re soft in the middle. And that’s what should hold us up. There’s really nothing to be said about this except, get down on the floor and do a little core work. We all need it.
This is not second nature to me at all. Every day I have to think of broadening my collarbones, breathing deeply. And sometimes it’s unavoidable to use bad posture, especially at my desk. My shoulders still ache but it is a much better ache. Importantly, my neck is also looser and as a result, I don’t get that knot on the back of my head that can cause a migraine or tension headache nearly as often.
When you start working on one thing, it all falls into place.