These 6 poses help to stretch, strengthen, and lengthen your muscles to improve your posture and reduce the ill health effects of poor posture.
As you probably already know if you’re reading this blog, yoga has tons of benefits for both your physical and your mental health. Yoga is a very unique form of exercise because of its combination of strength-building, flexibility-improving, and stress-relieving properties. Yoga also is great for helping to improve your posture, as it stretches tight muscles that may make you tend to slump forward, while also strengthening the muscles that help you stay erect.
The 6 poses below are best done in sequence, and for a longer posture-improving sequence, you may wish to check out this article.
The static stretches should be held for at least 90 seconds in order to make a real difference with stretching and lengthening your muscles and fascia, which can help to improve your posture.
1. Dynamic Supta Urdhva Hastasana (Reclined Arms Overhead Pose), 6 rounds
In this yoga pose your spine is more neutrally aligned just by virtue of you lying on your back. And moving your arms and shoulders up and overhead tends to open your upper back and encourage gentle backbend (extension) action of your upper spine.
- Start by coming into Supta Tadasana (Reclined Mountain Pose) with support under your head.
- Engage your legs and on an inhalation, swing your arms up and overhead alongside your ears.
- On an exhalation, swing your arms back down to your sides.
2. Supta Urdhva Hastasana (Reclined Arms Overhead Pose), 30 seconds to 1-2 minutes (see photo here)
Staying in the pose for a longer hold provides more stretching of your front chest.
- To come into the pose, follow the instructions for the previous pose.
- With your arms alongside your ears, focus on lengthening from your hips to your hands, sensing a small amount of backbend in your spine.
- In this pose, some people can get their hands to the floor while others cannot. If you can’t bring yours to rest comfortably on the floor, try resting them on a block or folded blanket instead.
- If you’re new to the pose, hold for just 30 seconds and gradually work up to 1 to 2 minutes over time.
- To come out of the pose, on an exhalation, swing your arms back down by your sides.
3. Supta Padangusthasana (Reclined Leg Stretch Pose), version 1 or starting position, 30 seconds to 1-2 minutes (see photo here)
Since tightness at the front and back of the hips could contribute to poor posture, I recommend adding in this pose to stretch your hamstring muscles (backs of your thighs). If you’re new to the pose, hold for just 30 seconds and gradually work up to 1 to 2 minutes over time.
- Start in Constructive Rest Pose, lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
- With a strap in hand, bend your right knee into your chest, place the strap over the arch of the right foot and straighten the right knee, stretching your foot toward the ceiling, keeping some tension on the two sides of the strap.
- Walk each hand up the sides of the strap until your arms are straight.
- Slide your bottom leg long on the floor, straightening your left knee and pressing out through your left heel.
- Adjust the angle of your right leg forward or back until you can easily keep the right knee straight and still have a feeling of stretch in the hamstring and calf of the right leg.
- Relax your shoulders, and make sure your lower spine is either softly touching the floor or slightly arched away from it (and is not jammed into the floor or over-arched).
- After you have aligned yourself, bring your attention to the sensations in your body or follow your breath.
- To come out of the pose, bend your right knee, slip the strap off your foot, and lower your right leg to the floor.
- Then place the strap aside and shake out both hands for a moment. Repeat on the second side.
- When you’ve finished both sides, bend both knees and come into Constructive Rest Pose for a few breaths.
4. Marjaryasana-Bitilasana (Cat-Cow Pose), 6 rounds
This pose helps to release stiffness in your entire spine, including the upper back (thoracic area).
- To set up for the pose, place a folded blanket crosswise in the middle of your mat to cushion your knees. Then come into a hands and knees position, with your knees on the blanket and your hands on the mat.
- Align your hips directly over your knees and your shoulders directly above your wrists. Now, evenly spread your palms and fingers, and press your hands into the floor.
- To keep your arms straight, firm the muscles around your elbows. While keeping it parallel with the floor, lengthen your spine from your tailbone to the crown of your head.
This is the first position in the dynamic sequence of Cat-Cow. It takes your spine into a backbend, strengthening your back spinal muscles, while stretching the front of your belly and chest, and encouraging a full inhalation.
When you’re ready to exhale, you’ll move into Cat Pose.
This is the second position in the dynamic sequence of Cat-Cow. It takes your spine into a forward rounding position, which strengthens your abdominal and front chest muscles, while stretching your back muscles and encouraging a long exhalation.
To come out of the pose, after completing a set of dynamic Cat-Cow, simply sit back on your heels.
5. Dynamic Urdhva Hastasana (Arms Overhead Pose), 6 rounds
This standing version of reclined pose will continue to stretch front body tightness that might be contributing to poor posture while also strengthening your upper back muscles to help maintain your improving posture. Follow the instructions for Dynamic Supta Urdhva Hastasana (above) while standing in Tadasana.
6. Urdhva Hastasana (Arms Overhead Pose), 30 seconds to 1-2 minutes (see photo here)
This will increase the stretching and strengthening effects of the dynamic version. If you’re new to the pose, hold for just 30 seconds and gradually work up to 1 to 2 minutes over time.
Find More Yoga Poses for Improving Your Posture at YogaAUOnline.com…