While perusing your Instagram feed, organizing a next-level pool party with your BFFs via text message, or simply plowing through a deluge of work emails on-the-go, you might’ve never noticed that you’re holding your neck at, like, the most awkward angle to keep your eyes glued to the screen. This habit, which physiotherapist and yoga teacher Lara Heimann, calls “text neck,” is a major no-no. In fact, it’s been a buzzy topic among Yoga Girl author Rachel Brathen’s most recent group of yoga-teacher trainees, whom Heimann’s been co-leading at Brathen’s studio Island Yoga Aruba.
In the most recent episode of the podcast From the Heart, Heimann warns that, apart from making people look like giraffes at the watering hole (#yikes), regularly striking this uncomfortable stance can cause neck pain, migraines, and—yes—botched heart-openers.
“[S]o many girls that I’ve been talking to this week, they walk around with kind of chronic neck pain, and it’s really scary,” she says, explaining that jutting our chins forward whilst looking down at our various gadgets causes the cervical spine to misalign with other vertebrae. (Hello, aching neck.) And to make matters worse, the anatomy expert says “text necking” hinders blood flow, which can cause migraines and sparks a fight or flight reaction in the body—meaning your nervous system basically goes haywire.
Everyone can benefit from Heimann’s simple adjustment: Just neutralize your neck by pulling the front of your throat back toward the natural line of your cervical spine.
Since all these symptoms sound about as appealing as a case of yoga butt, everyone can benefit from Heimann’s simple adjustment: Just neutralize your neck by pulling the front of your throat back toward the natural line of your cervical spine. On the mat, she advises double-checking alignment in poses like plank, cobra, and chaturanga. Outside the studio? Simply make sure you bring your device up to your face rather than the other way around.
Eventually, your grade-A posture will become second nature. For now though, just like every other asana, practice makes perfect.
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