How 10 Minutes of Morning Yoga Can Improve Your Posture
29 August 2017
Properly developed back body strength keeps your shoulders pulled back and away from your ears, pushing your chest forward and straightening your upper spine.
In an era when most of us spend the majority of our waking hours hunched over or slumped down staring at a computer screen, television, or phone, it's no surprise that poor posture and back pain are the new norm.
In a seemingly endless battle for spinal health, many try to implement a variety of techniques into their daily lives, such as sitting differently, changing their desk height, wearing braces, etc., and while these tactics can help, they are often difficult to maintain and require a lot of attention.
It's far too easy to simply forget that you're trying to sit with good posture, and you'll find that by the end of the day you're as slumped over as you were yesterday. Luckily, there are ways to both improve your current posture and reverse the damages already done, and one of them only takes a few minutes per day: yoga.
If you've heard anything from the yoga community at all, you've probably heard that yoga is an excellent way to improve your posture and subtly strengthen the muscles in your core, but often no one explains precisely how yoga can provide those benefits.
While any practice in general, will increase strength and flexibility and positively affect your posture, there are some areas of the body you may want to focus on more when better posture is your primary goal: back muscle strength, chest, and hips.
Improving back muscles will help give you the strength to hold yourself in the proper upright position while sitting or standing. Many members of the modern population lack the basal strength level required to comfortably hold themselves in a healthy position throughout the entire day, and this is due to long term slouching.
Allowing your low back to bear the weight of your torso, rather than sitting tall and putting the weight where it should be: your sits bones and the chair beneath them. Properly developed back body strength keeps your shoulders pulled back and away from your ears, pushing your chest forward and straightening your upper spine.
In line with that, opening up your chest allows you to keep your neck long and shoulders back without any sort of discomfort. When hunching over we compress our chest and shorten the connecting tissue, simultaneously lengthening the muscles in the upper back, which may sound good when phrased like that, but in reality, you're training your shoulders to automatically slouch forward, rather than naturally pulling you up straight.
Reversing the lengths of those muscles to what they should be while "resting" - long and open in the front and shorter on your back - causes your body to assume good posture without you putting any thought towards it.
Increasing the flexibility in your hips is also key to maintaining good posture. Excessive sitting shortens the tendons and muscles in the pelvic area, causing your hips to angle incorrectly when sitting/standing. The shortening of these muscles is also one of the major sources of chronic low back pain, something that affects the majority of citizens today.
Simple Yoga Poses To Practice in the Morning
So, you know that yoga can help improve your posture, but what poses should you be doing? Honestly, you don't need anything fancy. The majority of the most basic poses are actually the ones that deliver the most benefits to your spine:
One of the most basic yoga poses; in tadasana you stand straight and tall, lengthening through the spine and tucking your hips to ensure you are not arching your low back, with hands either at your side, heart, or stretched up above you and your feet firmly planted into the ground, Which stretches your back muscles and increases spinal awareness, resulting in a better understanding of what good posture feels like, making it easier for you to quickly identify when you are slouching over and correct it.
Not only is forward fold a very relaxing pose, it aids in stretching and releasing the muscles and tendons in the hips and low back, gently increasing flexibility and reducing tension in the back body, aiding in reversing the effects of poor posture on the lower half of the body.
Like forward fold, this pose helps stretch out the back body with the added benefits of increasing strength in the upper body, especially the upper back and shoulders while simultaneously gently opening up the chest. While this pose can be difficult for beginners, by the time it becomes a good resting pose (which for experienced yogis, it is) you will have noticed a marked difference in both your posture and low back pain levels.
An excellent chest opener, this pose is an absolute must for those who spend long hours hunched over a computer, as this gives space to the parts of the chest that are compressed by lengthy hours at a desktop.
Staff pose is the seated variation of mountain pose, again increasing spinal awareness and further developing the muscles required for effortless good posture. With your hands pressed firmly into the ground at your side, it helps lengthen your spine even further than mountain pose and is a good pose for opening the hips and hamstrings if you find yours are especially tight.
Cobra pose is another classic chest opener. This pose is especially wonderful for those with poor posture from frequent sitting as it bends your body in the complete opposite ways that slouching down does. As wells as pulling back the shoulders, cobra helps to build strength in the low back, another important factor in maintaining good posture.
at-cow is the final piece of the puzzle in tackling all of the issues associated with poor posture. Moving between cat and cow pose helps to increase spinal flexibility, opens the chest, stretches the back, helps properly align the spine. Incorporating cat-cow into your daily practice is an excellent help in teaching you awareness of your spines positioning, making maintained good posture even easier.
Of course, there are plenty more poses that can help build good posture, but the point is that you don't need anything fancy nor do you need to devote hours out of your day to teaching yourself good posture. Simply by practicing these poses for a couple minutes every morning or night, your body will naturally find its way into a sustainable good posture, and you'll start to reap the benefits of a healthy spine almost immediately.