A sedentary lifestyle can be harmful for a person’s overall health, but it’s the consistent craning of the neck, with eyes glued to phones and tablets, that threatens more subtle damage to the neck and spine over time.
A downward gaze puts an enormous load on the neck and spine, according to a 2014 study examining the effects of poor posture. When an individual tilts their head forward, the weight borne by the spine dramatically increases, which can lead to early degeneration and possible surgeries.
But for sufferers seeking pain relief and peace of mind, yoga may be the answer. Lower Greenville’s Plum Yoga and Dallas Yoga Center have incorporated classes to their rotations that help alleviate chronic pain caused by incessant technology use. For Dallas Yoga Center, the classes manifested from common complaints of discomfort in the low-back and neck region from students.
Plum Yoga offers stress reduction and restorative yoga classes, and Dallas Yoga Center recently created a one-hour yoga for neck and shoulders class and a two-hour “tech neck” therapeutic yoga workshop.
“We decided to go deeper into some of those complaints with two-hour workshop offerings,” says Jyl Kutsche, an instructor at the Dallas Yoga Center who created the center’s class and workshop. “That’s how tech neck began–as a workshop concept. Because of its popularity, a weekly class was soon added to the schedule. It all evolved very organically, out of need.”
Time and effort put into yoga practice can pay off, as the body’s overall health leads to better results at the office.
“Our bodies are designed to move,” and muscles and joints become stiff after eight to 10 hours a day at a desk, says Charry Morris, co-founder of Plum Yoga. Although yoga is a remedy for joint pain, “it’s not quite like a pill you can take and instantly feel better.”
“When [the back and neck area are] more open, there’s more room for blood, breath, and energy to move up into our brain.”
Plum Yoga’s stress reduction classes focus on having participants slowing down, breathing fully, lengthening muscles, straightening the spine, and resting their minds, Morris says. Plum Yoga also offers restorative yoga and meditation classes, catered to yogis who want to let go of tension and fatigue.
“Utilizing yoga blocks, blankets, and straps, people enter a supported position and stay for up to 20 minutes relaxing and releasing,” Morris says. But she warns that the slow pace of restorative yoga classes can be challenging for people who feel they need to release energy through movement.
Dallas Yoga Center’s classes focus on unwinding tension in the neck and shoulders. Created by Kutsche, the classes offer students a break from technology and target common back and neck complaints.
Kutsche says therapeutic yoga classes have an added bonus. “When [the back and neck area are] more open, there’s more room for blood, breath, and energy to move up into our brain,” she says.
A yoga membership isn’t the only way to treat muscle and joint pain. Morris advises building in breaks at work to take a quick walk or get outside for fresh air.
For yogis and non-yogis alike, making a habit of unplugging for an hour or two each day can feel like a luxury and become “an act of self-care and self-love,” Kutsche says. Setting boundaries in an era of constant communication allows for relaxation. In life, just as in yoga, finding balance is the key.