6 Yoga Poses for Better Posture
Being afraid I’ll end up looking like the humpback of Notre Dame when I’m older is a reasonable fear. Either osteoporosis or poor posture may be my fate, unless I take some steps in the right direction. Overall health and wellness has become much more of a priority now that I’m in my thirties. Good posture was something I may have only heard about from my mom when she told me to straighten up (or when I was acting out, more likely).
As a yoga teacher I find myself more conscientious about the way I’m sitting or standing. Sometimes at my day job I find myself slumping over in my chair and then it suddenly dawns on me how I’m sitting. I have been practicing poor posture for so long that I now have to practice good posture. Especially as a yoga teacher, I should lead by example and should not be sitting hunched over. So, even I have to remind myself about good posture once in a while.
Recent studies have shown yoga to improve posture, and it’s not surprising that this is true. In addition to increasing body awareness, yoga strengthens the core and lengthens the spine. The spine is the thing that holds up our body all day long, so it’s important to keep it in tip-top condition. Not to mention it has to support that heavy bowling ball of a head we carry around all day long!
Try these simple poses during your day to improve your posture:
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Yes, this is a yoga pose. It doesn’t feel like it at first, but it’s a very active pose. Stand tall, feel your feet on the ground, open your chest with arms at your sides, slightly tuck your tailbone, engage your thighs, roll your shoulders back and down to lower your shoulder blades, and bring your chin back so your ears are above your shoulders. It’s all in the chin and you want to align your body from feet to head.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
This is probably one of my favorite poses because I can literally feel my spine lengthen as I fold over towards my feet. Just hang there, grab your elbows with your opposite hands, and breathe. After you release your arms, try looking up by opening the chest and flattening your back on an inhale. Then exhale and fold again. This pose saves me on visits to the chiropractor!
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
This is an ideal pose for strengthening the back and opening the chest. Place your hands on the mat in front of you in a sphinx position and then slowly straighten your arms into your full extension of cobra. Bring your shoulders away from your ears, while keeping your pelvis and toes on the mat.
Hero Pose (Virasana)
This is a seated yoga pose that makes it difficult to slouch. Sit on your heels and sit up straight with the crown of your head towards the sky. If you have knee issues, this will not be your pose. If you can’t sit on your heels, get an ergonomic chair that mimics this pose or use a pillow for cushion.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This is also known as resting pose in yoga. Sit back on your heels and reach your arms out in front of you or bring them alongside the body towards your feet into a tiny little yoga ball.
Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
This is another great pose for strengthening the back. Open your chest lifting your arms and legs off the mat while keeping the pelvis on the mat. If necessary, you can lift just your chest and aim your arms towards your feet. A more advanced yoga pose would be to go into bow pose, but proceed with caution until you’re ready.
Remember, just like our bad habits developed over time, our good habits take time to build back up as well. Try practicing these poses and see which ones resonate with you. Give yourself reminders in your calendar or on your desk to be present to your posture. In the end you will breathe, move, and feel better.
Watch my video to work through Mountain, Hero, and Cobra with me:
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.