In part 1 of the anatomy section in Yoga Magazine, yoga teacher Gert van Leeuwen discusses the crooked upper back.
People are often unaware of their posture. When practicing Critical Alignment Yoga, you are confronted with tension that you have unconsciously built up over time, and with how this has influenced your mobility. When your posture is crooked, you push up your shoulders and contract your neck muscles. And once your upper back is crooked, this effect is enhanced by gravity. Your head, which weighs 7 kilos on average, is now worn in front of your body instead of on top of it. As a consequence, your dorsal muscles are constantly tightened. As these muscles are intended for short-term efforts of strength and can’t withstand long-term stress, they start to acidify. They become stiff and harden, which makes them insensitive. If you no longer feel parts of your body, you can also no longer control your movement. This is the core of the problem. You can thus no longer protect your back at any given time. The strip we use in Critical Alignment Yoga helps to relax the acidified tissue between your shoulder blades and restores the blood circulation in your postural muscles. And because these small muscles, which lie close to your vertebrae, are re-activated, your vertebrae can also move again. Your postural muscles are meant for long-term stress and are the strongest muscles in your body.
Props like the roll help you to reach parts of your body that aren’t easy to get to, not by yourself and not in yoga postures. When you use the pressure of your body weight and gravity, combined with proper breathing, to relax the muscles between your shoulder blades, you can restore mobility in your vertebrae.
Are you interested in yoga and would you like to experience the benefits of yoga yourself? You can! Sign up for a trial class at Yoga Ommen and discover what yoga can do for you! The exercises are easy to learn and (with a bit of practice) can also be done at home.
Gert van Leeuwen is the founder of the Critical Alignment Yoga and Therapy Institute. Irene Vos was trained by this institute as a Critical Alignment Yoga teacher and a Critical Alignment Yoga therapist.