Yoga is a practice that's been around for centuries, and it's still popular today. There are many reasons why people do yoga: improved flexibility, increased strength and endurance, stress relief, and more. But one of the most common benefits of practicing yoga is better posture!. With this blog post we'll go over some poses to help you improve your posture as well as tips on how to maximize the benefits from each pose.
Can Yoga Improve Posture?
Do you want to stand taller, move more easily and feel less pain? Yoga can be the perfect antidote for bad posture! The poses, or asanas, in yoga are designed to help improve your posture by stretching out tight muscles and strengthening weak ones. Plus, yoga helps build better awareness to mindfully combat the slouched position many of us assume when sitting at a computer, in the car, or on a couch. Common postural issues like a spine that is curved excessively, a forward head, or rounded shoulders can often be improved and well managed with consistent yoga.
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Beginner Yoga Poses for Better Posture
Getting started with yoga doesn’t have to be complicated. Some basic stretches with rhythmic breathing can make a big difference in your daily posture. Below are some favorite beginner poses that can quickly yield the results you are looking for.
Cat Cow Stretch
This classic stretch helps loosen any tight areas throughout the spine and keeps it mobile. If you notice one direction of the stretch is tighter than the other, you may choose to hold that position longer for added benefits. Never force the spine to move into a certain position if it causes pain.
- Start by getting on your hands and knees
- First, inhale as you push the upper back toward the ceiling, tuck your tailbone, and bring your chin toward your chest
- Hold for 5-10 seconds
- Then slowly move into the opposite position as you exhale
- Drop the belly toward the floor as you arch the low back into a backbend and look up toward the ceiling
- Focus on keeping the movement smooth throughout the entire spine
- Move back and forth 10-20 times for 1-3 sets while focusing on the rhythm of your breath
This yoga pose is great for stretching the entire body and promoting full relaxation. It is ideal when you need a break (from work or TV watching) or after a workout.
- Start again on your hands and knees
- Bend your knees as you bring your butt back toward your heels (touching if possible)
- Bring your hands out in front of you as far as possible with the palms touching the floor
- Relax your entire body with deep breathing, allowing your chest to move toward the floor as far as it will go
- You will feel a stretch in your upper back, low back, and shoulders
- Hold 30-60 seconds for 1-3 sets
- To focus on the mid-back while stretching, you can gently push your arms into the floor for leverage (or even bend the elbows and bring both hands up toward the ceiling) as you attempt to straighten your upper back
If you’re used to slouching all day, it can be hard to remember what good posture feels like. This pose is a great starting place to get some real feedback on how your spine should be aligned with daily activities. And all you need is a wall.
- Start with the back of your head, mid-back, and butt against the wall with your feet 6 to 12 inches from the wall
- Your low back should be close to the wall (nothing more than your hand should fit in between), abdominal muscles tightened, and chin gently tucked
- Then, maintain this posture while pushing the shoulders back until they touch the wall
- If your chest is tight, this may be difficult to do- take your time and progress as tolerated
- Hold your shoulders against the wall for 5-10 seconds for 10 repetitions, up to 1-2 sets
- Don’t forget to breathe and keep the best possible posture
- For progression ideas, watch the video below for wall angels
Standing Chest/Shoulder Opener
A standing chest opener is a great pose for stretching out the shoulders and upper back. It can also help to elongate your spine to reduce any strain or tension from slouching.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart
- Bring your hands behind you and clasp them together at the level of your butt
- Pull the shoulders back and gently squeeze the shoulder blades together as you attempt to lift your hands up toward the ceiling
- Keep the head in a good position with the chin slightly tucked throughout
- Hold for 20+ seconds for 1-3 sets, take deep breaths, and focusing on staying relaxed
- You can add a forward bend, by bringing the chest toward the floor, to progress the stretch and include the legs (particularly the hamstrings) and lower back muscles
Yoga poses tend to address a variety of muscles in the whole body all at once. It’s why you tend to feel so great afterward. Other useful yoga poses that you can try for posture and general health include:
- Cobra pose to stretch the low back and chest
- Mountain pose with a focus on your spine alignment
- Bridge pose to build core strength and stretch the hips all at once
- Downward facing dog to stretch the shoulders and spine
- Bow pose is an advanced option for the low back and chest
How Often Should I Practice Yoga?
How often you should do yoga depends on your specific needs and preferences. Typically, you should practice yoga anywhere from two to five times per week to yield postural benefits. Yet, if you aren’t doing a complete yoga practice but simply incorporating a few of the poses we discussed above, you can do them every day. You can even do them multiple times per day when you need a periodic break from sitting. While you may feel some immediate benefits, it's important to remember that building muscle and creating real posture takes time so consistency is key.
Tips for Your Yoga Practice
Use these tips to maximize the benefits you get from each pose.
- Pay attention to your sitting posture, especially if you work at a desk.
- Drink water before and after your yoga practice to prevent muscle cramps and feel your best
- Do not push beyond what is comfortable - listen to your body by going slower or taking a break if needed
- Take into consideration your sleeping posture
- Use deep rhythmic breathing to stay relaxed and yield the best results
- If you're new to yoga, start with beginner yoga classes or look for poses that are specifically designed to help improve posture (like the ones listed above)
- Need personalized guidance? Talk to a local yoga instructor, personal trainer, or physical therapist for recommendations to take your yoga practice to the next level
- Progress your poses with the use of tools, such as a stretch strap, bolster, or even a yoga wheel
- Don't get discouraged if you don’t get the results you want for your posture overnight- stick with your routine and try new poses along the way for an even better experience
Find more ways to improve your posture here.
Posture can be improved through practicing yoga regularly, by doing poses that stretch and strengthen the muscles around your spine. With regular practice, you should begin to see a change in your posture and may find relief from lower back pain or discomfort caused by poor alignment. The key is to get started and be patient and consistent.
https://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/3131/yoga-and-posture/ SHOP POSTURE PRODUCTS