Kyphosis refers to excessive rounding of the thoracic spine, located in the middle to upper back. Structural causes -- such as degenerative diseases, bone abnormalities and osteoporosis -- or postural causes are responsible for kyphosis. Everyday habits such as sitting in chairs, driving in cars and hunching over a computer cause an exaggeration of the natural curve in the upper spine. A mild case of kyphosis affects the appearance of your posture and causes back and shoulder inflexibility. If you don't counteract these positions of daily life, kyphosis may worsen over time. Though structural causes and some severe postural cases require medical attention, exercises in yoga that strengthen the spine and open the front of the chest and shoulders can help you correct kyphosis.
Thoracic Spine Stretch
Simply stretching the thoracic spine can help bring awareness to the region so you can learn to sit and stand taller during regular daily activity. Recline on the floor and place a rolled-up blanket under your back in the space below the shoulder blades and above the lower ribs. With your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, bring your arms to the sides and let them relax toward the floor to stretch the chest muscles.
A beginning backbend, bridge pose helps strengthen the legs and hips, opens the chest and provides relief for the spine. Begin on your back and place your feet hip-width apart with knees bent. Place the soles of the feet about 10 to 12 inches from your buttocks. Reach your arms alongside your ribcage with the palms face up to help release the fronts of the shoulders and chest. Gently lift your hips and torso out of the mat so you're resting on your upper back and feet. For extra support, place a block underneath your sacrum at the lower portion of your spine. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute.
Locust is a forward lying position that strengthens the muscle along the spine -- the erector spinae. Lie face-first on a mat and reach your arms alongside your torso. As you inhale, lift your nose and chest, arms and legs a few inches from the floor. Draw your buttocks together and attempt to reach your legs to the back of the room. Reach your fingertips backward and lift your upper arms up to the ceiling. Keep your eyes on the floor, rather than straight ahead, to keep the neck aligned with the spine. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to one minute.