Yoga Maneuvers and Stretches to Help Develop Better Posture


 yoga for better posture


If you're one of the millions of people who spend all day working at a desk, it is very easy to develop poor posture. Even the fact that many of us own smartphones and are chronically peering down at them during a day is a reason for concern. 

While an afterthought to a lot of people, posture is important for a wide variety of reasons. Examples of the importance of posture include easier breathing, better body alignment, and overall more confidence. Things like having a neutral, upright spine position is of utmost importance. 

Did you know that simply having bad posture (like slouching) can lead to health issues like heartburn, incontinence, and constipation, according to Harvard Health. It's not just a problem for the working class, young people are having more back issues then ever. 

According to the World Health Organization low back pain is the leading cause of activity limitation and work absence, and the prevalence of it in children and adolescence is rising. With much uncertainty of origins, it's important now more then ever to improve things like posture, which can help decrease prevalence long term.


Related Article: How to Use Yoga to Help with Back Pain: Yoga Stretching for the Upper and Lower Back


Besides seeing a physical therapist, which is always a good option if posture is leading to a poor quality of life, there are alternate forms of therapies like yoga. These types of therapies can help to strengthen the muscles that support skeletal alignment. 

One of the great aspects of yoga is you can utilize relatively simple poses that don't require a lot of time or equipment in your everyday life to slowly strengthen those muscles to hopefully improve poor posture. 

Here, we'll discuss just a few yoga maneuvers that may target to improve posture and overall well-being.

 

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)




The mountain pose is a great place to start when trying to improve your posture and spine alignment, as this basic yoga pose is geared toward beginner levels. The mountain pose is a type of restorative yoga and/or balancing pose that can help with strengthening our thighs, knees, ankles as well as belly and buttock. 

The term mountain pose comes from the fact that the practitioners are standing firm, upright and erect, like a mountain. It's a type of balancing pose as well because you can modify the aspects of the pose, like attempting to close your eyes. 


Related Article: Why Yoga Works for Relaxation, Even for Beginners!


Steps:

1. To perform this pose, stand with a slight bend in your knees.

2. Begin with your feet roughly 5 inches apart, or your can narrow this position slightly to having your big toes touching. 

3. Feel your body center and focus, balancing your weight onto your feet below. Lift your inner ankles for added benefits to your arches.

4. Tighten your core, stand tall.  

5. With your hips in a relatively neutral position, tuck your tailbone and try to pull your shoulder blades down your back while lifting your head high.

7. Your shoulders should be spread wide, lengthen your chest. Your arms should be down to the side of your body.

8. Hold this position while you breathe deeply, inhaling and exhaling for 30 seconds. 


One way to check your posture with this pose is by standing back against a wall, where you'll have your heels, sacrum and shoulder blades touching the wall. 

 

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)






Posture, stretch, strength and balance are aspects that go hand-in-hand with one another and the Tree pose. Needless to say, many yoga positions, used to better posture, may very well incorporate an element of balance. 

This is another beginner pose, that can oftentimes be included in many standing yoga routines for centering and grounding. It is helpful to the hamstrings, hips, knees and quadriceps. 


Steps:

1. Remain in the above Mountain Pose to start. Begin with either the left or right foot/leg.

2. With your hands in a prayer-type pose in front of the chest, place the intended leg (right) on the inner portion of the left thigh. 

3. The standing foot should remain forward, with little tilt from the hips. You want minimal rotation of the hips. 

4. If need be, adjust your pressure of your left inner left thigh or right foot to compensate, making sure the hips and pelvis remain square. 

5. Paying attention to positioning and body alignment will help improve posture.

6. If able, reach your hand up towards the sky

7. Hold this position for a few breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly and purposefully

8. Come back to the Mountain Pose, then switch sides. 


Related Article: How to Use Yoga for Strength and Flexibility

 

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)




The Cobra pose is a great addition to any routine when trying to use yoga for good posture. A very common beginner yoga pose, it helps to strengthen your back, open your chest, shoulders and stretch your core.  

The key to this pose is to create an even, gentle bend as any jerks to the maneuver can irritate the back. The cobra pose is a back-bend type pose, completed in the prone position and is utilized heavily in hatha yoga.  

The cobra pose can be beneficial for your back in it's entirety, biceps, triceps and core. 


Steps

1. Start in the Downward facing dog pose or Adho Mukha Svanasana. You can also begin lying down prone on your belly. 

2. As you breath in, come forward with your upper body.

3. Gently lower your body onto your yoga mat as you exhale. 

4. The next step involves you gently squeezing your shoulder blades back. Your elbows should be right into your torso. 

5. Now begin to press your hands into the ground, focusing on the bringing the chest up off the floor, keeping your neck long.

6. Your arms will continue to be slightly bent until reaching full height of the pose where they can now extend. 

7. You can then gently lower yourself back to the mat as you exhale. Place your toes back on the mat, pressing back to the plank, sequentially into the downward dog pose. 


Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)


downward facing dog yoga maneuver for better posture




Another important aspect of having and maintaining great posture is strengthening muscles and also keeping them flexible. The downward-facing dog pose will facilitate both of these things, while also helping to stretch out and relax your back.

A staple yoga pose, this pose helps with stretch, strength and is a forward-bend type maneuver. The downward dog pose also can activate and benefit several parts of our anatomy, including the back, arms, shoulders, arms, core, hamstrings and pelvic region to name a few. 


Steps:

1. Begin this pose down on your mat, hands shoulder width, directly under your shoulders.  

2. Make sure your index fingers of both hands are pointing forward, your may have a slight outward rotation with your hands. 

3. Spread the fingers. Rotate your arms so that the crease of the elbow is also facing forward, not inward toward your body. 

4. Now, gently arch your back, (like in the cow position), inhale and tuck your toes underneath preparing to lift the hips and straighten the legs.

5. Now, push up your hips, straightening your legs (which should be hip-width apart), while your upper torso rocks back towards your lower body.

6. Keep your arms straight, head & neck without tension. Your back should be straight as well.

7. Once completed, bend the knees back down to the mat, continue to a pose like the Childs pose. 


Final Thoughts!

Using yoga for better posture is another tool to add to your arsenal for proper body mechanics. Proper form of these yoga poses is an essential element and should be maintained at all times. 

If you have trouble doing any of these pose's, there are modifications that can be made to many yoga poses. 

We have just touched the surface of some beginners asanas for bettering your posture through yoga. Each and everyday you can add new asanas or rotate different poses into your routine to help achieve your goals. 

Please share your favorite yoga poses for achieving better posture in the our blog comments section!


Reources:

- https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/3-surprising-risks-of-poor-posture

- https://www.who.int/medicines/areas/priority_medicines/Ch6_24LBP.pdf

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