Yoga for Arthritis : Healthy Alignment for Sitting and Standing : Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center

Yoga for Arthritis : Healthy Alignment for Sitting and Standing : Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center


(peaceful music) – We spend a lot of time standing and don’t necessarily pay
attention to the alignment of our bodies while we’re doing so, so I’m gonna demonstrate a way to find a healthy alignment in your body that you can use when
you’re standing in line or when you’re waiting,
when you’re standing around, and when you’re talking on the phone, so that you can build an awareness of how your body is aligned and move toward having a healthier
alignment more of the time. So we’ll start at the feet. Oftentimes we don’t have our weight evenly distributed on our
feet, so what you want to do is find an even distribution
where the balls of your feet and the heels are taking
an even amount of weight so that your weight is really
in the center of your foot. You can lift the toes, spread them wide, and sort of press them down into the floor to widen your base of support so that you’re not gripping or holding in the arch or the sole of the foot, but let your feet relax as if they’re sort of melting into the floor. Then bring your awareness
up to your knees. Sometimes we tend to lock in the knees and put a lot of pressure in the knee. You want a little bit
of softness in the knee. For those of you who are used to locking, it might feel like a bend,
and that’s actually okay. It’s okay to have a little
micro bend in the knees, and actually you’ll
find that as you do that you’re engaging some muscles that you might not be used to using. And then we bring our
awareness to the pelvis. So again, this is a place where we might tend to tip forward or back,
and so you want to think about letting the pelvis
drop down into the legs, and if you think about
the pelvis as a bowl that has soup in it, you want to make sure that it’s not tipping the soup forward or tipping the soup back,
but the soup is staying in the bowl, is one way to think about it. Then bring your awareness
up to the shoulders, which instead of being forward or back should be lined up right over the hips. And you have this little bump, this bone at the top of the hip,
and you also have a bone at the top of the shoulder. So you can think about these two bones being lined up right on top of each other. If your shoulders are
forward of your hips, that’s not a healthy alignment. If your shoulders are
back behind your hips, that’s not a healthy alignment. And if you’re feeling any
compression in your low back, imagine that you’re lifting the ribs so that you’re creating space between the low ribs and the
hips, and you can even use your fingers here. Put a finger on the hip and
a finger on the low ribs and imagine that those
fingers are spreading apart from each other. When you lengthen the
spine, you’re actually decompressing those spongy layers that are between every vertebra. So if we sink into the spine and collapse, then we’re putting a lot
of pressure on the spine, but if we use all of those core muscles to create length, then we’re actually taking the compression out of the spine. And then from here,
notice what’s happening with the head and neck. Is the chin forward or back? Is it tilted up or down? Especially as people
spend more time on devices they tend to have their head forward, and sort of like this,
so you want to think about the shoulders coming back, but also the chin coming
back parallel to the floor so that the head is aligned
with the rest of the spine. This is a whole lot to think about, but it’s a good practice
to find an awareness of the body, bring yourself
into a healthy alignment that’s gonna serve you for years to come. If you spend a lot of
time sitting in a chair, it’s important to notice your alignment while you’re sitting. A lot of the principles of standing with healthy alignment also apply to sitting with healthy alignment, and there are two main ways to sit with healthy alignment in a chair. One is sitting away from the chair, and the other is sitting
with the back supported by the chair. So we’ll talk through both of those. If you’re sitting away
from the back of the chair, one of the benefits is that you’re able to engage all of your core muscles and maintain the strength of your torso. However, that can get tiring, and if you find that you’re slouching and unable to hold yourself upright, then you want to take a break from that and sit back and allow
the back of the chair to support you. It’s important that when you’re sitting against the back of the chair that you not sink into the chair, but find out the alignment of the spine and let the back of the chair take a little bit of the weight. So it’s important to have a chair that has a firm enough
back that it can help you to sit upright in the chair. When you’re sitting away from the chair, you have to find that healthy
alignment on your own. And again, we can start with the feet. So here you want to
think about your ankles being lined up right underneath the knees, so the feet shouldn’t be too far together or too far apart. And again, making sure that the weight is sort of evenly
distributed through the feet, that you’re not leaning back or forward, it’s less critical while you’re sitting because there’s a lot
less weight in the feet, but it’s still a good practice to notice how your weight is
distributed on the feet, and again, you can lift the toes, spread them wide, sort of
press them down into the floor. Feel that connection of
your feet with the floor. Lining the knees up over the ankles and also the hips lined up with the knees. So you might otherwise
have the knees splayed out or knocked in, but thinking
about that right angle so that it goes from
the ankles to the knees, and then from the knees to the hips. Depending on your leg
length, you might need to adjust the height of the chair seat if you have a chair that’s adjustable. Otherwise, you might want to put something underneath your feet if
you’re a little bit shorter, or you might want to put
something underneath your seat if you’re a little bit taller, so that the knees aren’t
higher than the hips or a lot lower than the hips. From here, being sure
that the pelvis is aligned so that you’re not
rolling back on the pelvis or rolling too far forward. Drawing the shoulders back and down instead of hunching
forward, and you can do that by rolling the shoulders back and down, and imagine the shoulder
blades are sliding in and down the spine instead of
holding the shoulders up like you’re wearing them as earrings. So drop the shoulders away from the ears, bring the shoulder blades
in toward each other, and if you’re using a
keyboard you want to think about letting the forearms relax, so having some support
so that the shoulders don’t end up being held all of
the time that you’re typing. Even a little bit of support underneath the hands is helpful. From here notice the alignment of the head so that it’s not jutting
forward or too far back, not down or up, but aligned
with the rest of the spine, and find the length in the spine so that you’re not
experiencing compression of the vertebrae, and you
can even move with the breath and as you inhale think
about finding that length and as you exhale letting any
tension in the body soften. This is something nice to
think about a few times a day while you’re at your desk, and even get up from the desk so that you’re not sitting for incredibly long stretches of time. So you can practice standing and sitting with healthy alignment.

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