Although the spine has a series of normal curves, it should appear generally straight when viewed from the front. When the spine curves to the front, it is referred to as kyphosis. Postural kyphosis is the most common form of this condition and occurs from slouching forward too often, resulting in a hunchback appearance that can lead to stiffness, back pain and an altered walking pattern. Yoga postures are extremely helpful in lessening if not reversing this condition.
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Stretch the thoracic spine by lying on your back with a rolled blanket under the middle of your back. Position it just below the shoulder blades but above the lower ribs. Open your arms to the sides, creating 90-degree angles at the elbows and shoulders. Keep the knees bent and hold this supported back-bend posture for two to five minutes while breathing normally.
Stretch the back part of the of body (erector spinae) by doing a locust pose. Lie facedown on the floor, arms at the sides, and slowly lift your head and breastbone 3 to 4 inches from the floor. Press your pubic bone into the floor to keep the lower back from arching too much. Protect your neck by keeping your gaze on the floor. Hold this for a few seconds, eventually building up to 30 seconds.
Perform the mountain pose. This is done by standing straight with the bases of your big toes touching and keeping the heels slightly apart. Keep your shoulders back, squeezing your shoulder blades. Keep your arms at your sides with palms facing front, and flex your thighs. Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to one minute. Remember to press the feet into the ground, lift the breastbone and lengthen the spine upward.
Practice these poses several times a day for best results.
Tips and warnings
- Use chairs that support your back and will not cause you to slump over.
- Scheuermann's kyphosis and congenital kyphosis are the two other forms of kyphosis. The former is the result of a structural deformity in the vertebrae and is usually first noticed in adolescence. The latter is the least common and is caused by abnormal development in the vertebrae before birth. Other causes of kyphosis include osteoporosis, spinal infections and tumours, degenerative arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
- Check with your doctor or health expert before beginning a yoga regimen for kyphosis.
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