Yoga Poses for Writing (or Reading) Breaks: Part I
We’re all growing horns on the backs of our heads (or maybe not), but the struggle of “text neck” is nothing new for bookworms, who have always had to get creative with their reading positions to keep their posture from suffering.
Whether you’re hunched over your good ol’ notebook or typing away at a laptop, the literary lifestyle isn’t great for your spine, so be sure to take frequent breaks to keep your body in alignment.
Here are the essentials I like to incorporate on long days of writing, reading, and editing. (Disclaimer: Though I practice yoga regularly, I am neither a certified instructor nor health professional. Be sure to consult with an expert to ensure proper form and prevent injury.)
Start off with an easy pose that will make you feel powerful. You did it! You wrote a thing, or read a thing, and even if you still have more to do, take a few moments to appreciate your body. Stand up tall, roll your shoulders back, and lift your head high. Your arms should be loose-ish, slightly away from your sides. Imagine a string pulling the top of your head up, and try to lengthen your whole body as much as you can. Take a few deep breaths here.
Reach your arms up beside your ears so they’re both parallel, palms facing in toward each other but with space in between. Before you settle into the pose, maybe even circle your arms a few times, or sway them gently toward one side or the other like a tall tree, to loosen up your shoulders. When you’re ready, bend your knees and hinge at the hips to sink back into the pose. Your body should form a chair shape (hence the name “chair pose”). Be sure to keep your weight pulled back to avoid straining your knee joints. Reach forward to elongate the back, neck, shoulders, and arms, while working your core and lower body to keep you stabilized.
This is a great, active pose to warm up your whole spine. Get down on your hands and knees, keeping your spine neutral at first. As you inhale, arch your back into a “U” shape, bringing your belly toward the floor while lifting your chin and pelvis. This is “cow” pose. As you exhale, reverse the pose, rounding your shoulders, curling your tailbone in, and raising your back like a stretching cat. Move through the poses several times as you breathe in and out, feeling the stretch from your shoulders all the way through your spine.
Sphinx Pose or Cobra Pose
Lie on the floor on your stomach (maybe just lie here for a minute, stretching into all four limbs to get your body feeling nice and energized). When you’re ready, bend your elbows and place your forearms flat on the floor on either side of your body. Engage your lower body (legs, glutes, and core), press down on your forearms, and raise your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground. Your back should be slightly arched. This is sphinx pose. If you’re ready for a bigger backbend, you can transfer from your forearms to your palms and straighten your arms to raise your chest further away from the ground in cobra pose.
If you still have a few more chapters left to finish, consider grabbing a book while you stay in Sphinx Pose. It’s a great way to switch up the usual curve of your spine and catch up on your reading—talk about a win-win!
Don't miss Part II!