Yoga is the best all-round movement that resists gravity and helps prevent or heal most age-associated degenerative conditions.
~ Dr Joan Vernikos, former NASA life scientist
Years ago, I saw an old woman at the supermarket who stooped so badly she could hardly see where she was going.
It looked painful.
It looked scary.
It was the dreaded Dowager’s Hump, a condition brought on by a combination of bad posture and brittle bones.
Its official name is kyphosis — an exaggerated rounding of the back that worsens as we get older.
It’s true that unpleasant things happen as we age, but they don’t have to. Not if we work to keep our bones and muscles strong.
And yoga does both.
Beware forward head posture
An insidious precursor to kyphosis is forward head posture. Don’t stress (yet) because most of us have it to a certain degree from years of hunching over steering wheels, computers and mobile phones.
Forward head posture occurs when the ears are forward of the shoulders rather than perching directly over them.
It might sound harmless, but it’s not.
Forward head posture is like having a bowling ball around your neck. This means that for every 2 centimeters your head sits forward, it’s equivalent to the head gaining 4.5 kilograms in weight.
Your neck and upper back muscles become increasingly stressed because they are forced to work harder to keep your chin from falling onto your chest.
It also weakens the respiratory muscles. This affects your ability to breathe and reduces your lung capacity by as much as 30 per cent.
Reduced lung capacity is associated with heart attacks and strokes, decreased stamina, low energy levels, and reduced immunity.
How can you tell if you have forward head posture?
Stand against a wall and let your heels, buttocks, shoulder blades and the back of your head touch the wall. If you have to move your head back to touch the wall, you have forward head posture.
The farther back you need to take your head before it contacts the wall, the more severe your forward head posture is and the sooner you need to take action.
Join a yoga class.
Full blown kyphosis
Years of unchecked forward head posture will make you look like this:
Well, maybe not this bad. But give it time.
Once kyphosis starts, it must be stopped. This means you need to strengthen your upper back and shoulder muscles.
Yoga’s perfect for this because it uses the body’s own resistance to build up these areas.
And strong upper body muscles hold your vertebrae in place and prevent forward slumping.
Do not become Quasimodo.
Join a yoga class.