We will not see the importance of posture splayed out in magazines, but our posture can suggest more about us than a flat stomach or toned biceps.

Good posture is an underrated concept, but far more important than seeking a certain body type. Depending on how we hold ourselves, we can see how a person likely spends most of their day hunched over a desk, or overcompensates a weak lower back with a tilted pelvis. 

Yoga can help begin to improve your relationship with your posture by strengthening the body’s foundation; your core. The core is made of the abdomen, obliques, pelvis, hip flexors, and the entire back area. Take notice of your body; how do you feel right now? How are you sitting or standing? Where are your shoulders? Is your pelvis tucked in or out? 

Invite yourself to stand naturally in front of a mirror and begin to learn the curve of your bodies. Challenge yourself to watch the progress you make as your curved spine, tummy, and hips begin to transform as we begin our yogic journey.

1. Yoga Tightens the Abdomen

Yoga helps correct your posture by tightening the abdomen, which helps support the spine and pelvis. A weak abdomen means you are more likely to round your back as you are seated typing on your computer, or struggle to hold yourself in the most correct position for your bodies for longer periods. 

If you are unable to hold up your back, you will begin to collapse, leading to exaggerated curves in the spine that may become more difficult to correct over time. To help build the strength your core is missing, you can practise one of the most popular ab-challenging yoga poses, the Boat Pose, or Navasana. In a sitting position, the body is balanced on the buttocks with the legs and arms raised forward. While you may feel the energy churning through your muscles, the real challenge is keeping the back straight and not giving into rounding the spine. 

Plank Pose (Phalakasana) is another ab-defining move that is easily incorporated into our Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation). A pose that especially targets the obliques, which are just as important in bettering your posture, is a Side Angle Pose variation (Utthita Parsvakonasana) where instead of resting the inactive arm on our upper thigh, we raise both arms out as if holding a large beach ball. 

When engaging your abs and obliques in yoga, you are on your way to improving our posture.

2. Yoga Opens the Chest and Shoulders

Opening the chest and shoulders allows us to reverse the damage caused by continuously rounding our upper backs. 

The most obvious sign of poor posture is a hunch, which overstretches the back and contracts the chest and shoulders. You can add yoga poses to expand these areas while also working out the muscle that will help keep you upright. 

An absolutely brilliant pose that will tone your shoulders and pectoral muscles is Camatkarasana, or Wild Thing Pose. This move is similar to an upside-down Phalakasana (Plank Pose), but instead of resting on both arms, you will spread our energy through the toes and one arm, while keeping the opposite arm lifted. You can come into this pose from Phalakasana by slowly flipping your body over, and come out of the pose by returning to Plank. 

The move that may provide you with the best chest and shoulder stretch is Camel Pose (Ustrasana). While sitting up on your knees, engage in a deep backbend and lift your arms up and over until they are touching the heels of your feet or the yoga blocks if using props. This pose is beautiful for your body because you can really feel your chest and shoulders stretching to a capacity they may have not experienced in a long time, if ever. 

A gentler pose to help us stretch our chest and shoulders is Cobra Pose, or Bhujangasana. Laying your front body on the floor, rely on the motion of squeezing your shoulders together to lift the head and chest.

3. Yoga Strengthens the Back

Strengthening the back may seem like the most obvious step in improving your posture, but many people do not successfully exercise their entire back when putting together an exercise routine. 

A strong back helps support us whether we are sitting or standing, and is absolutely necessary for developing your posture. As one of the most important parts of the body, we must give the back the love it deserves. 

The aforementioned Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) builds strength along the spinal column through a gentle backbend, and for a more thorough move to target the back, Locust Pose (Salabhasana) will target every muscle as you lift your back and legs from a stomach-lying position. Bridge Pose, or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, is another gentle version that aids in tightening the lower back and glutes. Ardha Purvottanasana (crab pose or reverse table pose) not only strengthens the back, but uses every core and arm muscle as you place your body to resemble a table and use nothing but the hands, feet, and your core strength to keep you elevated. The only difference is, instead of facing the ground, we are flipped up so we are facing the sky, which is where the English name, Reverse Table Top, comes from.

4. Yoga Increases Flexibility in the Hips and Pelvis

It may seem strange to think that the hips and pelvis are related to our posture, but these areas help keep the top part of our core supported. As we sit in our chairs, our hip flexors begin to shorten, and we must balance this action through hip-lengthening poses. 

A deep curve in the pelvis can also contribute to poor posture as we curve the spine to compensate. It is normal for these areas to be unthought of during our busy lives until we suddenly hear a "pop", or find we cannot sit the way we used to when we were younger.

When these areas are too tight, we adjust the way that we stand, which in turn, adjusts our posture. Once you have opened your hips and pelvis, you will begin to notice how your back begins to realign itself. If experienced with yoga, you have probably already partaken in Low Lunge, or Anjaneyasana. This pose allows you control over your hips as you adjust your body for a deeper or kinder stretch. As one leg is extended behind you, the other is bent in front, and from there, you may vary the pose as you choose. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana) primarily works on your pelvis as you sit up straight, the top of your head high, and your shoulders drawn down away from the ears, bottom grounded to your mat, and legs bent to reveal your groin area. 

When you breathe into your Svadhisthana (the chakra related to the pelvis), the tops of your thighs will slowly begin to reach the ground, widening your pelvic floor.

5. Yoga Calls for Reflection of Your Posture

There is an array of beneficial yoga poses to help us correct our posture, but what is perhaps the best tool yoga can provide is how it calls on us to notice our body, to listen to our body, and to serve our body as it serves us. 

Whether you view the gift of your body in a positive or negative light, it is always with you, and will continue to carry you throughout this lifetime. You can show gratitude to your body by simply taking into account how you can hold it, and what it can tell you. 

Subtle balancing poses, such as Garudasana (Eagle Pose), helps you to notice where your body feels heavy, and where it feels light. Where must you adjust yourself to stand upright? You can take this same philosophy and apply it throughout the day; it can become your mantra as you meditate on how you can support your body, and how your body will support you.

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