Whether you slay away in an office or WFH, repeatedly lug around a 25 pound carry-on (read: purse), or are constantly perusing Instagram, many realities of the modern “get ‘er done” lifestyle can unfortunately lead to neck and back pain. In fact, more dollars are spent treating these ailments than almost any other medical condition, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Typically, these result because of too much time crouched over computers or firing away on hand-held devices which encourage the neck to protrude anteriorly and the shoulders to round forward. “The head weighs to ten to twelve pounds, so this position pulls the neck and back into an uncomfortable forward-jutted position. Overtime, this leads to ‘text neck’ and generalized pain,” says yoga instructor, Francesca Valarezo, who’s leading our next Well+Good Retreat in Miami.
Valarezo knows the difficulties firsthand and she’s not alone—roughly 70 percent of people will be afflicted by neck aches at some point in their lives according to research from Harvard Medical Health. And while it’s hard to skip-out on the desk job all together, standing for breaks during the day—or hey, putting in that PTO to join us for a seriously high vibe experience come December—can help. Until then, Valarezo’s got two yoga poses that help stretch things out and, best yet, can be done right from the comfort of your own desk.
1. Diver’s Pose Stretch
“A gentle diver’s stretch helps you strengthen and lengthen the muscles in the neck and eventually realign the head and neck and the shoulders,” says Valarezo.
How to do it: Stand with your feet together, toes and heels touching. With a flat back, hinge forward until you’re parallel to the ground, and extend your arms behind you as if preparing to dive off a diving board (get it?).
Engage your core for stability, then come high onto your tiptoes, encouraging your heels together and your weight into your big toes. Draw your chest out in front of you and pretend that your neck is on a string that’s getting pulled straight. Hold for two to three breaths. Repeat five times.
2. Seated Cat Cow
“You can do seated cat cow literally anywhere! Do it before going to bed. Do it in your home office. Do it in the bathroom. This pose will help you notice where your head is pulling forward and where it is pulling back, which can help with the re-allignment of the neck,” says Valarezo.
How to do it: Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on your knees. On the inhale, tilt your pelvis back, which will cause your belly to round forward. Pull your shoulders down and back and look up towards the ceiling. This is cat.
On the exhale, tuck your pelvis down and pull your bellybutton in, which will cause your spine to to round. Curve your shoulders forward and gaze towards your belly. This is cow. Repeat this sequence for five to ten breaths.