Growing up, did you ever hear, “sit up straight, don’t slouch!” This is something I say to my kids frequently. They are little computer addicts and probably spend far too many hours there!
My posture isn’t horrible but I do sit in weird positions. As I type this, I have one foot tucked under me, the other on my chair with my knee against my desk and I am kind of curled up under a scarf (it is freezing…) I rarely sit “normally” and actually prefer the floor to chairs – this does not fly at work!
- Aligns bones and joints decreasing stress on ligaments and allowing muscles to move properly.
- Facilitates breathing.
- Prevents fatigue. Muscles are used more efficiently. Breath and energy are optimized.
- Prevents backache and muscular pain.
- Improves appearance and self-confidence.
Luckily for me, yoga is a great remedy for some of the effects of my bad postural habits.
Yoga is an amazing tool to foster a healthy spine and good posture. This helps your body function optimally. You will feel the benefits immediately and over time.
How can yoga help improve posture?
- Lengthen the spine. Postures such as Downward Dog and Rag Doll gently pull apart and create space between the vertebrae.
- Create awareness of postural alignment. This happens through the practice of standing balances such as Mountain and Tree Pose.
- Strengthen the back muscles, in particular the paraspinal muscles that run vertically along and support the spine (think Locust and Cobra).
- Bring a more rounded or convex curve to the spine (for example, Child’s Pose).
So many things throughout our day make us want to slouch instead of standing up tall. Do you spend hours hunched over your computer? Stoop down often to pick up your kids? Or lean in to send texts and browse on your smart phone?
The spine is the axis of all movement in your body (both physical and energetic). It is vital to keep it healthy.
Below is a short yoga sequence that focuses on improving posture. Hold each pose for about 5 breaths. You can also check out the video version here.
A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind.
Strong posture reflects pride, equanimity and resilience. This week, in my beautiful city of Ottawa, an unarmed young soldier was standing guard at our National War Memorial when he was shot and killed. I would like to dedicate this practice to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who stood tall and proud for all of us. Love and light.
Please enjoy and feel free to comment below to share your thoughts.
A Yoga Sequence for Better Posture
Begin on all fours (tabletop position).
1. Downward Facing Dog
Curl your toes under and press up into downward facing dog. Start with knees bent. The intention here is to create length in your spine. Walk your dog, lifting each heel. Come to stillness and hold for 3-5 breaths. You may start to take the bend out of your knees.
2. Rag Doll
From down dog, walk your feet to the front of your mat. Inhale and lift halfway creating length. As you exhale, fold your torso over your legs. Keep knees slightly bent. You can tuck fists into opposite elbows. Allow your weight to roll forward slightly into the balls of you feet and feel your spine lengthening.
3. Tree Pose
Draw one foot up and place the sole against the ankle or inner thigh of the opposite leg. Toes of the lifted leg are pointing toward the floor. Bring your hands to your heart. It helps to think of pressing the foot into the thigh while at the same time pressing the thigh into the foot. Extend the rown of the head toward the ceiling. Softly gaze at a point about 4 feet in front of you. Hold for 5 breaths. Do the other side.
4. Locust Variation
Lie on your stomach. Press the tops of your feet into the floor. Bring hands under your shoulders, arms bent, elbows drawing towards one another. Inhale, lift the chest, lift the legs and open them wide. Exhale, keep your legs lifted and stay lifted and bring your knees together. Inhale and open the legs wide again. On your next exhale bring the legs together and lower to the starting position. Repeat two more times.
5. Child’s Pose
Kneel on the floor, sitting back on your heels. Take a deep inhale, then as you exhale, fold forward (butt stays on your heels) and stretch your arms our in front. Rest your forehead on the floor. Keep your arms outstretched or bring them down by your side, palms face up. Take 5 few deep breathes.
6. Seiza (Hero’s Pose)
From child’s pose, curl up and sit back on your heels. You may sit on a bolster or block. Rest your hands on your thighs. Close your eyes. Take a few moments to settle in. Bring your awareness into the room. Lengthen the crown of your head toward the ceiling; chin slightly tucked, shoulders relaxed. Hold for 5 breathes or longer.
Yoga pose drawings can be purchased for immediate download here.