Yoga for Better Posture

yoga for better postureMaintaining healthy posture significantly influences your appearance and your physical health. When you have good posture you carry yourself with confidence, look taller, and appear thinner.

Correcting posture imbalances can prevent back pain as well as eventual deterioration of the spine. The way you hold your body affects the alignment of the spine, which affects the overall body health. The spine is the central channel for nerves, muscles and ligaments. It connects and nourishes areas throughout the body. When the spine is flexible and healthy, the nervous system pathways are open and efficient, energizing the body as a whole.

We train our postural muscles continuously by the way we habitually sit, stand, move, and lie down. Today’s western lifestyle tends to make the mind race yet keeps the body sedentary. We spend large amounts of time working, reading, shopping, and playing while slouched or hunched in front of a computer screen or with some sort of gadget. The back and neck stays curved for long periods, causing pain and overall poor posture.

Check out The Mayo Clinic: Find out why good posture important and learn about the three natural curves of a healthy back. Test your standing posture, with the ‘wall test’. Get tips on good standing and sitting posture.

Yoga can improve posture and overall back health. Practicing certain postures can increase flexibility, strength and balance through stretching and toning. When we stretch muscles we are actually lengthening contracted (short, tight) muscles. When we tone muscles, we contract and strengthen muscles that are weak and long. Good posture is all about balance, which is enhanced by proper alignment and muscle use.

Yoga trains the mind as well as the body. As we continue to practice, we become more present in the body. We become more connected and aware of body sensations and alignment. Good posture is all about being aware of your body, noticing, and moving into correcting alignment. Yoga also offers relaxation techniques, stress management and a perspective of unity and connectedness. You may practice yoga for posture and find that your life is enhanced in many ways.

Below is a great video to show you some simple shoulder-opening exercises to improve your posture. Simple actions like rolling the shoulders, squeezing the shoulder blades together, and opening the chest can do wonders for posture. The key is repetition (just a few minutes a day). You will need a yoga strap (or a belt or towel) for one of the exercises. For the relaxation exercise you will need 2 blocks or some folded blankets, towels, and/or pillows for support.

Train your muscles to do the work. Below are poses that are known to be particularly helpful in encouraging good posture. They bring the body into proper alignment by strengthening the back and opening the chest. The poses stretch, lengthen and strengthen essential muscles as well as enhance flexibility and balance. Practicing these exercises regularly help to build ‘muscle memory’ so that you naturally maintain good posture without fatigue. For details on how to practice the poses, see the List of poses.