Tai Chi-Qigong & Fascial Fitness: Correct Computer Slouch! (Includes YouTube Link)

Everyone who uses a computer--who doesn't these days!--is a candidate for "computer slouch," a postural habit that can cause pain, deformation and dysfunction. This blog will describe the consequences of computer slouch, discuss fascial lines involved and show how postural elements of Tai Chi & Qigong can give longterm help.

This graphic from Roy Pumphrey's website stimulates questions about how our computer posture behaviors could prognosticate a disturbing future for humankind.

Computer slouch shortens what Thomas Myers* calls the Superficial Front Line (SFL) of the body's fascia, the lines of which are depicted in this photo.

The shortening of the SFL results in the following:

  • The Quasimodo profile (Hunchback of Notre Dame)--note evolutionary photo above.
  • Forward head posture can become chronic, affecting head turning and gait.
  • Forward tilted pelvis, creating back and hip pain
  • Neck, shoulder and back pain.
  • Restricted breathing due to shortening of the SFL and collapsing of the lung cavity.
  • Restricted circulation to the major organs of the body, (heart, liver, lungs, spleen) due to collapsed SFL.

So how can Tai Chi and Qigong help?

Posture training and body awareness

Tai Chi and Qigong movements are based on principles of correct posture because efficient, powerful, healthy movement cannot occur without being grounded in good posture. Therefore, Tai Chi-Qigong teachers constantly place emphasis on awareness of body position and correction of any imbalances and misalignments. It's really great to attend a class because during our daily work and stress we develop bad habits that escape our awareness and tend to become  ingrained. A good Tai Chi teacher will offer an objective eye and model appropriate positions. Tai Chi classes provide companionship in raising our awareness of how we position and move our bodies. As we see other people straightening out and see the resulting healing and energy improvement, we get ideas about how we can improve our own habits and relieve accompanying pain. Regular attendance and continuing practice increases our awareness of what we are doing throughout the day that is causing physical stress and pain. Awareness empowers us to make change--and that is a great thing!

Heaven or Preparation Posture--Video Version from Tai Chi-Qigong 7-...

Text version is below:

Here are some key elements of Tai Chi posture as exemplified in the basic, beginning posture for Tai Chi and Qigong :

Standing and sitting (feet together)

  1. Stand or sit in a relaxed manner with the feet together or about a shoulder's width apart.
  2. If you are seated, move out to the edge of your chair.  
  3. Stand with your back straight, shoulders relaxed and knees slightly bent.
  4. The crown of the head should be up as though suspended from a string.

Feet together

  1. First, focus attention on your feet.
  2. Put your feet together.
  3. If standing, balance the weight on the point just behind the ball of the feet (the Kidney One point).
  4. Focus on getting a strong connection between the feet and the earth, feeling the energy and sensation through the feet.

Straight spine

  1. Now focus your attention on your lower back
  2. Place your hands on your back below the waist and gently rock the hips up and back and then gently forward so that the hips are tucked under.
  3. Notice now that your back will be flat. Your knees will be slightly bent. In all of our exercises the knees should never be locked out but should always have a slight curve. The hips should be tucked under. 

Shoulders and chest open

  1. Now, focus your attention on your shoulders.
  2. Roll them forward, inhaling, then roll them back on the exhale so they open up your chest, allowing more breathing room. Allow the shoulders to relax downward.
  3. Repeat three times. 

Shoulders down

  1. Now inhale and draw your shoulders up toward your ears as far as you can, and hold them there for a moment. Squeeze . . . Then exhale and let them slowly drop down and relax. Take a breath and relax the shoulders downward even more, perhaps releasing an “Ah” breath. One more time, squeeze up toward the ears, and then let them come down, relaxed.
  2. Repeat three times.

Crown up, chin tucked

  1. Now focus your attention on the crown of the head.
  2. Tuck your chin in and extend the crown of your head upward toward the sky so that your back and neck are in a straight line. 
  3. Think of your body as being suspended from a string at the crown of your head. The body is in perfect alignment and balance.
  4. The eyes should look softly into infinity.

In summary:

  • Feet are together
  • Knees are slightly bent
  • Hips are tucked
  • Back is flat
  • Shoulders are relaxed and open
  • Chin is tucked
  • Crown of head is up as though head and spine are suspended from a string.

 This is the Preparation or Heaven posture that is the foundational position. This position, along with breathing, constitutes the most fundamental exercise of Qigong and is often practiced for long periods of time. 

For a video version, CLICK HERE!

Correct computer slouch! Improve the future evolution of the human race! 

Anna York

Copyright by Anna York, 2010

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