Quick poll: are you reading this article hunched over? It’s ok, I won’t tell anyone. These days, we’re all guilty of “computer slouch” or “text neck” when reading online. But bad posture isn’t just unattractive – it can lead to aches, cramps and pains, especially in your lower back and shoulders.
If you’re looking for a way to ditch the droop, you should consider signing up for yoga. Yoga has a wealth of evidence-based health benefits, among them improved posture. Your chiropractor will be overjoyed.
What’s good posture anyway?
Good posture should keep your body aligned. This starts with squared shoulders, but also includes a straight back, open chest and feet flat on the ground. No muscle should be twisted or have extra pressure placed on it. Generally speaking, good posture feels good.
Let’s lean into the top medical reasons why yoga can improve your posture.
Yoga uses a holistic mind-body approach towards exercise. Besides stressing the importance of relaxation and breathing, yoga also teaches body awareness through “poses.” With each pose, a typical yoga instructor will ask the group to focus on various physical aspects, including position, function and movement. Studies show that yoga-trained groups have better awareness of their bodies than non-trained groups. Yoga can even help students maximize body function, on par with therapies such as the Alexander technique.
This boosted sense of perception goes hand-in-hand with improved posture. The more you’re aware of your posture, the more likely you’ll adjust it during the day.
Focus on alignment
Yoga poses also emphasize alignment correction of hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders. This sense of proper structural alignment is great for improving posture. As poses are adjusted for optimal positioning, students get in the habit of ideal alignment and are able to hold poses correctly and for longer amounts of time.
This directly corresponds to improved posture over time. Even outside the yoga studio, students retain the habit of proper alignment and are likely to correct their slouch at the office or at home. You can even follow these tips to correct and cultivate body positioning.
Yoga is also linked to building core strength. Studies suggest that yoga enhances student’s core stability and core muscle function. These muscle groups are directly involved in controlling the lumbar spine, which is essential for achieving good posture. By boosting core strength, students will receive greater back support and may even see relief from lower back pain. With core muscles engaged and strengthened, your posture is sure to shine.
Enhanced upper body and trunk
Studies also point to yoga as a big enhancer of upper body and trunk strength. In particular, trunk strength is related to posture control. By boosting these postural muscles, students train themselves for greater endurance and resistance.
Trunk strength is also key for balance, as seen in a recent study about falls in elderly people. When elderly people performed trunk exercises, they saw greater stability in their lumbar spine and better posture control.
Yoga also promotes greater flexibility in those who practice it. Flexibility is key in posture control because it aids in balance and motion range. This is good news for your posture, since flexibility can reduce muscle stiffness and tension. Moreover, by training full motion range, yoga can help strengthen your postural muscles and prevent back injury.
Yoga poses for good posture
Now that you know the benefits, let’s look at some good yoga poses for improving your posture.
Yoga poses that incorporate backbends, including locust, cobra and sphinx poses, are great for strengthening postural muscles. They also enhance alignment by keeping the shoulders, head and back in the right positions. In addition, they promote flexibility in important postural regions.
How to do cobra pose: Lie down on your stomach with your hands square with your shoulders. Now, engage your core to lift up the arch of your back by pressing down on your hands. Ideally, keep your arms straight and your gaze up.
Mountain pose is a simple but effective standing pose to focus on alignment and be aware of your positioning. It’s also good training for balance and stability.
How to do mountain pose: The idea with mountain pose is to find the most neutral position while standing. Your feet should be squared with your hips and your weight balanced (not leaning forward or back).
Both upward and downward dog poses are excellent for posture for different reasons. While downward dog focuses on abdominal muscles and your core, upward dog also conditions the muscle group along the spine. This muscle strengthening is perfect for improved alignment, core strength and upper body boosting.
How to do downward dog: Starting on your hands and knees, lift back your pelvis so that you make an upside-down “v” shape with your body. Extend your spine and be sure to align your body.
Chair pose also works the muscle group along the spine, as well as your hip and buttock muscles. Thus, this pose is great to increase core and trunk strength, as well as balance.
How to do chair pose: Once in a standing position, raise your hands and bend your knees into a sitting position. Your feet and knees should stay together.
Finally, planks are great for core and upper body strengthening, including abdominal muscles and the muscle group along the spine. It’s also key for alignment, as the body must be squared for maximum results.
How to do planks: Get into a push up position, but keep your arms straight, your back flat and your eyes down. Engage your core as you hold this position.
Other posture boosts
As you can see, yoga is a great option for fixing your posture. If you’re looking for other posture boosts, you might consider contacting a chiropractor. According to a chiropractic doctor in Anchorage, one-on-one sessions can help you adjust your posture, as well as restore position, enhance flexibility and reduce pain. With a professional, you can create holistic care for your posture that includes both yoga and chiropractic, just like this doctor did.
Overall, we hope yoga and other posture strategies help you ditch the droop in your posture!
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998. He became passionate about being in the chiropractic field after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.