Monday, April 30, 2012

Head forward position causes strain on body
One of my Facebook friends posted this image last week, and I figured that I needed to show this to all my yoga classes.   Some of you saw it, and it made quite an impression on a number of you!

This image shows that the further forward we keep our heads, the more it feels like it weighs.  This puts strain on the rest of the body.

This common condition is given its own name, Forward Head Position (FHP).    I'm sure you've seen many people with this condition, and there's a good chance that many of you exhibit this condition too.   It's very common in our society -- many of us sit hunched at a desk in front of computers for hours at a time, or slouched while driving or walking.   We're not taught to stand up straight like many people were taught to 50 - 60 years ago.

The article Forward Head Posture and the Pain it Causes tells us the effects of FHP on the whole body.  The human head weighs between 8 and 12 pounds.  When it's balanced well on top of the rest of our body, it doesn't feel like it weighs too much, but for each inch forward it comes, the "relative weight of the head over the body doubles" due to the effect of gravity.

When the head stays forward of the shoulders, the rest of the body has to compensate:  The upper back rounds out more and the hips tilt forward.   All of this puts stress and strain on the body, and results in all sorts of problems.

Of course there's much more stress on the neck, shoulders, and back from FHP.  The article mentioned above lists a number of health conditions that can be caused or made worse from Forward Head Position including:
  • Headaches, migraines
  • Tempero-mandibular joint pain (TMJ)
  • Asthma and allergies
  • Poor sleep
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Reduces lung capacity and blood flow
  • Spinal degeneration
If all you get out of your yoga classes is improved posture with the head balanced evenly on top of your body, you'll be ahead of the game!

Many of our yoga poses require an upright posture to do the poses well.   We learn a good upright posture first in tadasana (mountain pose).   Chest up, shoulders and head back, shoulder blades in, buttocks down so the low back doesn't over curve. 

See you in class!

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