We all have that tall friend who has his shoulders rounded, chest caved in, and lower back pushed forward. Whether he knows it or not, the tall man syndrome has hit him and it has hit him hard. Not only does this affect your physical experience, it also has an effect on your emotional experience. Many people dealing with self confidence, feeling like they don't belong or also feeling like they stick out too much will have a common tendency to make this shape in the shoulders and spine. It also lowers their levels of energy and mood. So, what do we do about it?
A major misconception amongst tall men is that yoga isn't something that they can do because of their size, joint issues, back problems - we all have at least one of those - but au contraire.
Yoga for tall men is actually tremendously beneficial as, over time, it will eventually correct the hunch in your back and curvature in your spine. Now no one here is doting miracles, but core stregnth is the key to standing TALL!
Here are a few shoulder exercises to help start to create space for you to stand tall and in your true height:
Anahatasana (Inch Worm/Puppy Pose) - This simple shoulder opener helps to create space through the chest, upper lungs, and the line that runs from the triceps to the shoulders themselves. Start by getting into table top position; on your hands and knees pose. Keeping your hips stacked directly on top of your knees, allow you hands to walk forward to the point where your forehead can rest on the earth; like a dog stretching out his front legs.
Urdhva Hasatasana Modification (Upward Facing Mountain Pose) - GIANTS, make sure you have high ceilings for this pose; you can also do it lying on your back if you find your ceilings to be an obstacle. Start out by standing, heels rooting down into your yoga mat or the floor, knees slightly bent, tailbone dropped underneath you, and chest open. Begin to reach your arms up into the air, keeping the shoulders plugged down and back into the back of the body. Spread your fingers wide like you are holding a beach ball up and over your head. Lift your chest and rib cage and as you exhale let the arms come up. At the same time press through the feet. From here, reach your arms out to your sides with slightly bent elbows and feel the shoulders drop down the back. Make sure your ribs don’t jut out - you can do this by focusing on drawing the top of the hip bones and your low ribs closer together.
Standing Camel Pose (Ustrasana)- Start with your feet hip width apart. Place you hands on your low back, wrap the elbows in and lift the chest up towards the ceiling. Try as much as you can to bring the ribcage in line with the hips bones to prevent jutting the ribs out. Lift the sternum and and the heart up at the same time as driving through all four corners of the feet; palms facing each other. As you inhale, breathe into your shoulders and drop them down and back at the same time as pushing through your feet.
Start to take these poses on and see what a difference it will make for you. If you are one of the people out there who is concerned about doing it right or going to a class in your town or city, there are plenty of yoga studios that should provide basic and foundational classes. One on one private yoga sessions are also a posibility to look into if you are at the very beginning of learning. They are a great way to get the most powerful improvements in technique and practices, therefore exponentially deepening your yoga poses.
In closing, Jade Yoga and Lululemon make two excellent extra-long yoga mats. So, no excuses.