Patient Daily Living

Dump The (Dowager’s) Hump

If you have a Dowager’s Hump and thought there was nothing you could do about it, take heart…and take yoga. According to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society by Dr. Gail Greendale of the University of California at Los Angeles, yoga can help. The study found that among a group of elderly study participants, those who did yoga for six months saw their upper spine curve lowered by about 5 percent compared to those who did no yoga.

Reducing Dowager’s hump will improve your appearance, but it also has important health benefits as well. If your chest is continuously caved in, you do not breathe properly because the lungs are unable to expand to their full capacity. The intestines and other organs are also compressed, which interferes with their optimum functioning. Not only that, poor posture can lead to pain. Improve your posture with yoga.

Here are 5 easily accomplished poses—they are all done sitting in a chair—that can help you straighten your spine.

  • Seated Mountain - Sit tall at the very front edge of a chair with a firm flat bottom. Place your feet securely on the floor. Inhale and lengthen the spine upward. Place the head directly over the spine, and bring the shoulders down. Breathe evenly, maintaining the posture for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Henpecking - Sit in Seated Mountain pose above. Now pull your head back as though making a double chin. Repeat 6 to 10 times. Keep the head level; do not jut the chin forward or lift it up. Emphasize the backward movement. Do not come forward. Shoulder Rolls Sit tall as above. Lift your shoulders up as you inhale, and squeeze your shoulder blades together in the back as you exhale; bring them down and roll forward, inhaling as you lift up again. Do 6 to 10 full circles.
  • Seated Superman - Sit tall as above. Inhale, and clasp your hands behind your back. Exhale as you hold your arms away from your body. If you can’t reach your hands, hold a strap. Repeat 3 to 6 times. You can also stay in the pose longer by breathing continuously.
  • Rocking Horse - Sit tall in Seated Mountain pose. Place your feet firmly on the floor and draw your head back as though making a double chin. Maintain this head posture and lean forward without rounding the spine. Keep the abdominal muscles firmly engaged, and the shoulders square. Lean back as far as you can, keeping the feet planted on the floor (you probably won’t touch the back of the chair). Repeat 10 to 20 times.

- Written By

Deborah Quilter

Deborah Quilter, writer, certified Yoga teacher and Feldenkrais® practitioner, is the Director of Yoga at the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City and the president of Beyond Ergonomics, LLC. She is a partner at The Balance Center in New York City and presents regularly at the International Yoga Therapy Conference and the Rocky Mountain Institute of Yoga and Ayurveda. She is the author of The Repetitive Strain Injury Recovery Book and Repetitive Strain Injury: A Computer User's Guide and is currently working on a book about balance. Her website is