In a world where most of us spend loads of time either sitting at a desk, on a train or driving, as well as with our gaze often glued to a computer or smartphone screen, everyone’s posture seems to be getting increasingly worse.
Using yoga for posture improvement is becoming a more common way to counteract the negative effects of the sedentary lifestyles we tend to live and that can damage our health, especially as we age.
In this article we will discuss:
- What is proper posture?
- What causes bad posture?
- Main benefits of yoga for posture
- 8 yoga poses for posture
- A yoga practice for posture
Let’s dive right in.
What is proper posture?
Spinal alignment varies from person to person. It depends on individual anatomy, pathologies, and other factors, hence there is no such thing as achieving perfect or proper posture.
Here are some basics of spinal alignment, however, that can be helpful to keep in mind especially when exploring yoga for posture:
Proper posture is generally defined as the alignment of the joints in the body such that they are in the correct position to maintain balance and distribute weight evenly.
- The head feels centered directly over the shoulders, not leaning forward or backward, your chin level to the ground, and your jaw unclenched.
- The shoulders should be level with one another and relaxed, away from your ears. Notice if you feel hunched forward or tense, roll your shoulders down and back a bit.
- The spine is in a neutral position, with the natural curves of the back supported by the core muscles.
- The hips should be level, the tailbone gently tilted down, and the weight evenly distributed between both feet.
- Your knees should be slightly bent, the muscles of your legs engaged, and make sure to avoid keeping your knees locked or hyperextended.
- The feet are flat on the ground, with the weight distributed evenly across the soles, grounded.
What Causes Bad Posture?
As we spend many hours in front of a computer working, browsing for the latest deals on our smartphones, and then spending the last hours of our day lethargically on the couch watching the latest viral Netflix show.
Here are some of the main causes of bad posture associated with some of the habitual patterns mentioned above:
1. One of the most common causes of bad posture is slouching. It can be caused by sitting for long periods of time, carrying heavy objects, or simply not being aware of how you are holding yourself.2. Weak muscles in the back, neck, and shoulders can make it difficult to maintain good posture. This can be caused by a lack of exercise, poor diet, or certain medical conditions.
3. Shoes that do not provide good support can contribute to bad posture. This is especially true if you spend a lot of time on your feet.
4. If your workspace is not set up properly, it can put a strain on your muscles and make it difficult to maintain good posture. This can include things like sitting in a chair that is too high or low or having a computer monitor that is not at eye level.
5. Stress can cause muscles to tense up, which can lead to bad posture.
6. As people age, their muscles and bones weaken, which can make it more difficult to maintain good posture.
If you want to try yoga for posture, talk to your doctor or a physical therapist, or a qualified yoga teacher. They can help you to identify the cause of your bad posture and develop a plan to improve it.
Main benefits of yoga for posture
To revert or at least minimize the effects of some of the habitual patterns that affect your posture, you can try yoga for posture.
Here are some of the main benefits of practicing yoga to improve your posture:
- Increased awareness: Practicing yoga for posture helps you become more aware of your body and your posture. Becoming aware of your posture makes it easier to correct.
- Improved alignment: Yoga for posture helps you align your spine. Through regular practice, you can develop stronger muscles and better alignment.
- Reduced tension: Yoga for posture can help to release tension in your muscles and joints, to further improve your posture. When your muscles are relaxed, you can move more freely and with greater ease.
- Strengthened core: Performing yoga poses regularly can help to strengthen your core muscles, which can help to support your spine and improve your posture.
- Relieved stress: Yoga is a great way to reduce stress and tension in your body; when you are relaxed and calm, you are less likely to hunch or slouch.
- Improved breathing: Yoga encourages deep, diaphragmatic breathing, which helps to support your body and improve your posture. When you breathe deeply, you engage your core muscles and promote better alignment.
8 yoga poses for posture
If you want to use yoga for posture improvement, there are many asanas that you can practice that will give you relief from discomfort as well as start to retrain your body to find better alignment.
Here are some of the best yoga for posture poses for you to try:
1. Mountain pose (Tadasana)
Mountain pose is one of the most foundational yoga poses and it helps to align the spine and improve your overall posture.
2. Eagle Arms (Garudasana Arms)
The yoga for posture stretch targets the rhomboid muscles between the shoulder blades, which are responsible for pulling the shoulder blades together. By strengthening these muscles, you can improve your posture and prevent slouching.
3. Cat-cow stretch (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
The cat cow stretch helps improve posture by increasing flexibility and mobility in the spine, which is a key component in maintaining good posture.
When you perform the cat cow stretch, you move your spine through a full range of motion, which can help loosen up tight muscles in the back and neck.
By doing this, you can improve your spinal alignment and reduce tension in your muscles, making it easier to maintain good posture throughout the day.
4. Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
Sphinx pose, also known as Salamba Bhujangasana, is an excellent yoga pose for improving posture because it strengthens the lower back muscles and helps to lengthen the spine.
The pose also counteracts the hunched posture that can result from prolonged sitting and slouching, which is common in today’s sedentary lifestyle.
Sphinx pose stretches and opens the chest, shoulders, and upper back, which helps to improve breathing and reduce tension in the neck and shoulders.
5. Downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
A great overall yoga for posture shape, Downward Dog relieves tension in the upper back, neck, and shoulders and stretches and lengthens the muscles, too, reducing tension and promoting better alignment.
It engages the muscles of the core and back, which are essential for maintaining good posture.
Downward dog stretches the spine, improving its flexibility, which can help prevent hunching and slouching.
6. Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
If you spend a lot of time sitting down, whether in an office or sitting in a car, chances are the front of your body, especially your psoas, are often tight.
Bridge pose strengthens the muscles of the upper and lower back. By strengthening these muscles, you can improve your posture and prevent slouching.
Tight chest muscles can contribute to poor posture by pulling the shoulders forward.
Regular practice of bridge pose helps to improve the alignment of the spine, which can help to improve posture and reduce discomfort.
7. Fish pose (Matsyasana)
Fish pose is great for yoga for posture as it strengthens the upper back muscles, including the rhomboids and trapezius, which support the spine and shoulder blades.
It stretches the chest muscles, including the pectoralis major and minor, as well as the front of the neck, which can become tight and shortened due to poor posture.
It also opens up your shoulders, allowing them to roll back and down and it stimulates the thoracic spine, which is the area between the cervical and lumbar spine, improving mobility and flexibility in this region.
8. Reclined Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
A reclined twist can improve posture by stretching and releasing tension in the spine, shoulders, and chest muscles. This can help to alleviate any discomfort or pain in these areas that may be contributing to poor posture.
By regularly practicing this yoga for posture shape, you can increase flexibility and mobility in the spine.
A yoga practice for Posture
If you’re interested in practicing some of the yoga for posture asanas that we’ve explored in this article and others, try this free yoga class on Youtube:
With regular yoga for posture practice, you can develop better body awareness, realign your spine, and improve your ability to maintain good posture throughout the day.
Mindful breathing and relaxation techniques practiced in yoga can also reduce tension and stress, which can contribute to better posture. Learn more here.