First, a confession…forgive me, it has been over 2 months since I last blogged. I have had the “too busy to blog blues”. This has been due to some very good things. I was in the UK for 2 weeks over Christmas visiting family. And a few weeks after that I spent 11 glorious days in Bocas del Toro, Panama at the best yoga retreat ever at Bluff Beach Retreat, hosted by the irrespressible Christine Dennis of Prashanta Yoga (my “local”). And throughout I’ve had the pleasure of doing custom consultations with some incredible women, creating plans to optimize their health and well-being. Nothing gives me greater joy; it is why I became a holistic nutritionist. But being too busy to blog has had its downsides too. One is that Google is not very happy with me. The other is that researching, creating educational handouts and designing diet, supplement and lifestyle protocols and custom meal plans requires me to spend a lot of time at my computer. Enter “Slouch Asana”, as Christine so aptly named this poor posture. We spent a lot of time at Bluff Beach working to counteract the effects of this pose.
We are all intimately familiar with that slouchy, hunched-over-the-computer pose, are we not? When we spend hours like this, the fascia of our body tends to form adhesions (think velcro) that help mold and keep us in this posture. Fascia is simply connective tissue that forms a network throughout the body. It envelops and forms a protective sheath over all our organs and muscles (think of that clear film over skinless chicken breasts…that is fascia). When we stay in motion and are well-hydrated, that film can slide freely over our organs and muscles. But if we stay in one position for too long or don’t drink enough water, the fascia begins to become tight and adhere to our muscles. And that’s why we tend to stay slouched even when we are no longer in front of our computers (or cellphones or tablets).
Improve your posture with these tips to prevent and counteract Slouch Asana
For those of you who also suffer from too much time in Slouch Asana, here are some tips:
If you don’t stay in one position for too long, the fascia doesn’t have time to create those velcro-like adhesions. Set a timer on your watch to remind you to get up and move at least every 60 minutes. Every 30 is even better. Even a few minutes of walking around and/or stretching will prevent Slouch Asana from becoming entrenched. Moving hourly has the added benefit of keeping one our our main fat burning enzymes, lipoprotein lipase, active. If you sit too long and that baby shuts down, you’ll be sitting back and watching the pounds creep on too! Personally, I’m saving up for a standing desk.
Aim for half to one ounce of quality water (or herbal tea) per pound of body weight per day. Where in the range you need to be depends on how active (and sweaty) you are, how hot and humid the temperature is, the altitude you are at and more. You’ll know you are sufficiently hydrated if your urine is colourless or light yellow.
Try Contra Slouch Asana
Try this posture-preserving yoga asana, beautifully demonstrated in the picture below by my guru, Christine Dennis. I call it Contra Slouch Asana but really it is a variation on Restorative Fish Pose. I like to do a 5 to 7 minute meditation while in this pose (good for both mind and body). A fantastic back bend and chest opener, the butterfly position of the legs in this pose also allows for an expansive abdominal breath and a great groin stretch (which is my Contra Crossed-Legs-All-Day Asana). If you don’t have blocks or bolsters, you could use a rolled blanket or yoga mat for under your bra line (or bro-line, if you are a man) and then prop your head as necessary with more blankets or a pillow. You want your neck to stay soft and neutral. If the pose bothers your low back, place a blanket under your bum or bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor.
Put on a Posture Medic
Another handy “device” I have to combat Slouch Asana is my Posture Medic. This ingenious invention is a posture reminding resistance band that helps you stretch, strengthen and stabilize your back. It comes with several exercises but simply wearing it gently reminds you to keep your shoulders back and back upright. Think of it as a bit of mindfulness meditation for posture.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Now get up, drink up and get your fish on!
And if you’d like to learn more about holistic nutrition and how we consider not just diet, but also lifestyle modifications to enhance health and wellness, feel free to reach out and contact me – I would love to hear from you!