My brother just celebrated his 51st birthday, and he called me to ask about relieving pain in his shoulders and neck. He’s made a career in technology in Silicon Valley, which means he is constantly in front of his computer – and now, his smart-phone, perusing apps and checking his email.
Even if you don’t work in tech, I’m just going to put it out there that you might be more of a techie than you think. Let me guess: The thought of losing your smart-phone is really, really stressful. You probably freak (even just a little) if you leave your house without it. When was the last time you went more than one hour without checking text, email or Facebook via computer or smart-phone? There is more content than ever before on cable, YouTube, in gaming and more, so I’ll bet you’re addicted to some show or some video game. Am I right?
Yup, I thought so.
Studies over the past two years show that adults spend at least 30 hours online per week, millenials spend 40+ hours a week watching TV, and the number of people playing video games has tripled in the last three years. “Smartphonatics” is a term that now describes people who do everything through their smart phones. One study found that nearly 60% of smart phone owners stress out if they go one hour without checking their phones.
Confession: Yeah, that’s me too. I’m working on it. What do I do? I’m sneaking more yoga into my day to relieve the constant brain stimulation and the bodily stiffness and pain that comes along with hunching over some kind of tech device all the time.
As a yoga teacher and someone whose life was transformed, physically and spiritually, by yoga, I geek-out on yoga as one solution for all of the above. Here are three easy ways to sneak yoga into your tech-obsessed world.
#1. Sync yoga
These days, we’re more likely to do things our phone/computer calendars alert us to do. Schedule five minutes of stretching at the top of the hour, let the appointment sync across all your devices, and be reminded to get out of your chair and away from the computer screen.
Benefit: Eye strain and brain relief from what’s on the screen, plus physical relief from sitting for so long. Long-term, doing this will help break your tech habits and bring you to a healthier place.
#2. Breathe like Darth Vader
Ujjayi (oo-J’EYE) breath, or “Conqueror’s” or “Victorious” Breath, is a staple in yoga to help quiet the brain and slow the breath, which helps calm the mind. Usually we techies get a good laugh out of making the Darth Vader noise, so this is a good, “sneaky” yoga method that also helps release endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals in your body for some good stress relief.
How To Breathe Like DV: Close the mouth and inhale. Hold the palm of one hand in front of the face. Open the mouth and exhale, as if the palm is a mirror and you’re steaming it up. Make a noise like Darth Vader. Repeat, but keep the lips closed. You should hear an ocean-like sound, or the sound of Vader. Practice for 20 breaths to start.
#3. Download an app
If life must be lived through phones and tablets, there are yoga apps for all sorts of yoga practices. I recommend that techies seek out an app for meditation. Tech gives us a lot of stimulus, and we need to bring in balance by breathing and calming the mind.
How to find an app: Search for apps that don’t have “sleep” in the title (those are really more for nodding off.) Opt for guidance to calm the mind, while staying awake and aware. A few of the free apps I like: Buddha Quotes 500 provides words of wisdom, while ZenView gives you serene scenes and spa-like interactivity using the touch-screen.
Try these, or use your own creativity to stretch, breathe and sneak more yoga into your life (or help someone you love). Know that every little bit seeps in, so don’t feel like you can’t do yoga because you can’t get to a class. If you’re making these suggestions to a techie in your life, know that not all techies will be interested in yoga; you have to make your suggestions sound a little less like a yoga practice and more like stress and pain relief for daily living. It’s working with my brother. So far, so good!