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These days we all feel the effects of leaning toward computers or scrolling on our phones. Technology use collapses your vertebrae, the body’s main support beam, into an unnatural C curve. This shape smushes your abdomen, impairs your back muscles, and tightens your neck. It drags you down and can lead to an array of problems, from headaches and leg cramping to carpal tunnel syndrome and chronic back pain.
Even as a yoga teacher typing this piece, I had to remember to roll my shoulders back, breathe steadily, lift my chest, and relax my eyes. Counteractive poses practiced weekly—or even one at a time, as needed, throughout the day—are the best way to smooth out the slump.
See also How to Avoid Social Media Blues
I’m a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher and founder of a wellness education and consulting company called Kim Weeks Well. My clients and students—who, like all of us, work, live, and socialize on their devices—use the poses on the following pages to stretch and straighten out their backs and bodies and to restore peace of mind.
In this 45- to 60-minute practice, you’ll confront device-hunching and the mental and emotional effects of screen use head on—which is exactly the goal! You’ll get your head back on top of your spine instead of staying slumped. You’ll do this by reestablishing circulation and integrity in your legs, toning your back and abdomen, and soothing and strengthening your upper back and neck. There are standing poses, abdominal work, twisting, and backbending, which together unwind the tension that develops from the mentally demanding yet physically stagnant use of technology. The beginning and end of the sequence will help to quiet your brain and nervous system, which also become misaligned through chronic device use. You may not be able to unplug as often as you’d like because of work and social commitments, so let this practice be your reset.
Adho Mukha Virasana (Downward-Facing Hero Pose)
Stretch your arms, and press your hands to the mat evenly. Keep your buttocks on your heels. Rest your head on a block. Hold for 10–15 breaths.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
Press your hands evenly to lengthen your arms and trunk. Move your thighs back and stretch your legs. Rest your head on a block. Hold for 10–20 breaths.
Watch this video on Downward-Facing Dog Pose
Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)
Press your feet down firmly, and lift your knees to straighten your legs. Straighten your arms to lift your chest. Relax your neck and face. Hold for 10–20 breaths.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Be a biped. Press your feet down to engage your quads. Lift your knees. Lift your chest. Roll your shoulders back. Stretch your arms. Relax your throat and eyes. Hold for 10–20 breaths.
Watch this video on Mountain Pose
Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
Press your feet into the floor. Lift your ribs to raise and stretch your arms. Hold for 5–10 breaths.
Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)
Stretch your legs with your quads engaged. Your head, shoulders, and hips should be in a line. Lengthen everywhere, but microbend your front knee if it’s locked. Hold for 10–15 breaths on each side.
Watch this video on Extended Triangle Pose
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
Seal your outer back foot to the ground. Stretch your back leg, your top arm, and your whole side. Lift from your abdomen to your chest. Hold for 10–15 breaths on each side.
Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Keep your torso upright instead of leaning forward. Stretch your arms and keep them in line with your ears. Ground your heels. Hold for 5 breaths.
Watch this video on Chair Pose
Paschima Namaskarasana (Reverse Prayer Pose)
Roll your shoulders back. Press your palms together (or clasp your arms or wrists). Lift your chest. Hold for 5 breaths.
Ardha Parsvottanasana (Half Intense Side Stretch)
Press your inner front foot and outer back foot down to help you balance. Lower your shoulder blades. Keep your hips and abdomen even. Hold for 5–10 breaths on each side.
See also Intense Side Stretch Pose
Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand)
Strongly press into your forearms to lift your upper arms, shoulder blades, trunk, and abdomen. Draw your tailbone upward to lift your legs. (You can also practice with your heels on a wall and interlaced fingers within 1 inch of the wall.) Hold for 15–50 breaths. (A great alternate option is Prasarita Padottanasana, Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend).
See also Supported Headstand
Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Leg lifts)
Keep your abdomen long and waist down as you straighten your legs. (If you have back issues, keep your legs bent.) Move on the exhalation and keep your breath steady in each leg position (45 degrees and 90 degrees to and from the floor). Hold for 3–5 breaths.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
Use blocks. Stretch your arms and legs. Press the tops of your feet down. Lift your knees and your chest. Hold for 3–5 breaths.
See also Upward-Facing Dog Pose
Viparita Dandasana (Inverted Staff Pose), variation
Sit on a chair facing backward with your feet on the ground and your hands on the chair back. Lift your chest. Slide your buttocks forward as you lie back. Curl your shoulder blades over the chair front. Lengthen your lower back. Keep your hands on the chair legs. Hold for 10–30 breaths.
Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaja’s Twist), variation
Sit on the side of a chair. Be even on your buttocks. Keep your knees in line. Turn to place your hands on the chair back. Press your shoulder blades into your ribs to lift your chest. Hold for 5–10 breaths on each side.
See also 3 Steps to Get into Bharadvaja’s Twist
Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend)
Press your legs evenly down, and sit tall. (Sit on a blanket if you are rolling backward or struggling to straighten your legs.) Hold for 5–15 breaths.
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
Sit on a block. Press the soles of your feet into each other; stretch from your inner thighs to your knees. Lift your chest. Hold for 5–15 breaths.
See also Hip-Opening Yoga Poses
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
Keep your shoulders and the back of your head on the floor, your neck neutral, and your tailbone lifted. Spread your sacrum. Keep your feet planted and your knees from splaying. Hold for 10–20 breaths.
Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose), variation
Rest your sacrum on a block and plant your feet. Exhale to lift your feet and straighten your legs. (You can rest your heels on a wall.) Hold for 3–5 breaths.
See also Legs-up-the-Wall Pose
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Let your shoulder blades drape to the floor. Stay for at least 5 minutes.
Watch it: Follow this practice whenever you’ve had a lot of screen time. Go to yogajournal.com/kimweeks.
About the author
Kim Weeks’s career began on Wall Street. Long hours and frequent international travel drove her to regular yoga practice. Then 9/11 happened, and she decided to invert her career—just like she does with her body in Headstand—and share yoga’s benefits of steadiness, peace, and freedom. Today she has a wellness education and consulting company called Kim Weeks Well. She is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher, working closely with advanced Iyengar Yoga teacher John Schumacher, and she teaches at YogaWorks in Washington, DC. Learn more at kimweekswell.com.