Improve your posture and relieve neck and back pain with these posture-correcting yoga poses.
Americans are suffering from a posture crisis, and it’s more serious than you may think… Bad posture does more than just affect your appearance; over time, it can lead to changes in bone structure, chronic pain, and other long-term health issues.
Unfortunately, certain functions that we do a lot, like a long-drive commute or sitting in front a computer for extended periods of time, can raise havoc with our posture over time. If you find your posture has deteriorated and you tend to slouch when standing or sitting upright, it’s time to take action before it’s too late.
Fortunately, yoga is a great way to correct postural issues before they become irreversible!
Here are 6 yoga poses that can help improve your posture.
The purpose of the mountain pose is to get your body to realize when your back is in perfect alignment with your head, neck and shoulders, called the neutral position. If you have difficulty with this pose when first trying it, doing it with your back against a flat vertical wall can help you find your neutral position. Once you know what neutral feels like, you can then do it without using the wall as a prop.
This pose, called Navasana, strengthens your lower abdominal muscles, which support your lower back and pelvis. While breathing deep, hold the pose for at least 30 seconds.
Salabhasana is an upper body pose that focuses on strengthening the muscles that hold the shoulder blades in alignment. As the muscles become stronger, they shorten thus pulling your shoulder blades down and back, increasing your vertical posture and alignment.
This is one of the best poses to correct for poor posture. It works by strengthening your spine and increasing its flexibility.
With your hands interlaced behind your back, this pose stretches out the shoulders and hamstrings. To get the maximum benefit from doing this pose, pull your shoulders up by tightening up your shoulder blades as you bend over in half. Once in the bent position, release the pressure on your shoulder blades letting them slide back into place.
While most of the other poses have been done from the standing position, the starting position for this pose in on all fours. By moving your spine through flexion (back down/head up) and extension (back up/head down) you’ll find the ideal neutral position of your spine.
Also keep in mind that yoga doesn’t have to be done in a studio or at home; there are also some modified poses that you can do while seated at your desk that will help mitigate the impacts of sitting, even while you are still at the office.
Seated Forward Bend – Push your chair back from your desk. While still seated, place both feet flat on the floor. Now interlace your fingers behind your back. Straighten your arms back while folding at the waist, bringing your interlaced hands up and over your back. Rest your chest on your thighs and release your neck. Hold for 15-20 seconds.
Seated Cat-Cow Stretch – While seated, place both feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your knees. Now the breathing; on the inhale, arch your back and look up toward the ceiling; on the exhale, round your spine and look down. Repeat for 3-5 breaths.
While yoga doesn’t actually make you taller, when you improve your posture, you may appear that way as you become more erect and place your spine in its proper neutral position. Improving your posture can also help alleviate and prevent neck and lower back pain, so it’s a win-win!