There seems to be an epidemic of poor body awareness, rounded shoulders and spinal slumping taking place. A de-evolution in posture which is not only aesthetically unpleasing but can create serious imbalances in the structures of the body, leading to a loss of mobility and function and ultimately creating pain. Hyper-kyphosis of the thoracic spine seems to be an adjunct of modern sedentary living, put simply the body is designed to move.
Is the kyphosis being caused by genetic, physical or emotional factors? The yogic philosophers and sages tell us that the body and mind are inseparable, what happens in the mind will be reflected in the body and what happens in the body will be reflected in the mind. Just observe a person who is upset, they breath shallowly, become very closed in posture by rounding their shoulders and upper back. They become very protective of the heart and the corresponding ‘anahata’ chakra.
The anahata chakra which is part of the subtle body and is associated with unconditional love, compassion, warmth and joy, it’s literally the energy centre of emotions and reflects how you relate to yourself and others. In Sanskrit ‘anahata’ translates as “unhurt, unstuck and unbeaten”.
A temporary emotional upset isn’t going to close you physically or emotionally but consecutive and prolonged “hurts” will. Conditions such as depression and anxiety will cause both physical and emotional blockages which can manifest physically as closed posture (slumped upper back, forward head position and rounded upper back) as the person attempts to protect their heart. Emotional feelings such as fear of rejection, feeling unworthy of love, paranoia, loving indiscriminately and an inability to support anyone else at an emotional or deep level, basically they become emotionally dysfunctional.
Yoga can help. A properly structured asana practice which emphasises back bending, chest broadening and heart chakra opening poses can help realign posture by addressing the short tight and subsequent long week muscles associated with kyphosis. Certain breathing techniques (pranayama) will help with lung and heart function, developing both physical and subtle energy. Meditation techniques, chanting and relaxation practices combined with visualisation can help open the heart chakra and relax the mind.
If you have a restriction in your physical body, you’ve been practising a certain pose for a long time and it’s just not working, you don’t seem to be improving or you’re not feeling any benefit. It may not necessarily be a physical restriction that you have, it may be an emotional or subtle energy blockage that you’re experiencing.
Remember the body and mind are one.