Yoga is one of the best practices to improve not only flexibility, but posture in general.
With age, if we don’t stretch and exercise, our posture gets worse due to the effects of gravity, sedentary lifestyle, or a specific profession. For instance, hairdressers, bodywork therapists, gardeners- all of them spend a lot of time bent over, which rounds their spine, tightens their chest and shoulders, and puts a lot of stress on cervical and lumbar spine. People who mostly spend their day sitting down at the office or behind the wheel have similar issues, plus they have extra tightness in their hip flexors, hamstrings, and most likely weaken glutei muscles.
To counter all these imbalances, daily yoga practice may be the right medicine!
There are many yoga poses that can help you stretch and strengthen just the right muscles for improving your posture. For example, most people have done or heard of upward and downward facing dog.
Upward facing dog is a backbend, which is a counter pose to sitting and hunching over. All backbends, in fact, are great for your posture! They strengthen your posterior body, which generally needs more strengthening than the anterior body. If you are extremely tight and cannot comfortably hold an upward facing dog, your best alternative is cobra pose. You should definitely feel your upper back, triceps, and glutei muscles working as you hold cobra.
Downward facing dog stretches your side body, possibly lower back, hamstrings, and calves. Those muscles get really tight from sitting or walking for a long time. The best modification for this pose that works for most people is a “puppy” dog, when instead of hands on the floor, you bring your hands onto the wall, a bench, chair , couch, etc. Lifting your hands higher takes some weight off of your hands and shoulders, and makes it easier to hold the position and find a better stretch in the legs. Take a look at the photo below where my client Lucas is working on achieving more length in his lower back by performing a puppy dog pose.
I could break down every yoga pose to show you the benefits for your posture, but I don’t find it necessary. One more very important aspect of yoga practice is proper deep nasal breathing, that will help you tap into your parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) and feel more relaxed and in peace with your body, which will definitely bring you into a taller, longer body naturally. In other words, just the fact of proper breathing will allow your body to return to its natural state of health. Bad posture and improper breathing go hand in hand, so by altering your breath pattern alone you can make so many positive changes in your body, including your posture!
Most importantly, yoga teaches us to be more present and in tune with our bodies, to live a balanced life and not “overdo” things. Therefore, by learning yoga you will learn how to live healthier in general and how to make better choices. You might choose activities that will support a good posture or re-organize your schedule at the office for some mid-day stretching time.
Throughout my carrier as a yoga instructor and a personal trainer, I’ve helped many people to improve their posture and overall wellbeing. I am currently available for online and in-person yoga/personal training lessons and would love to help you on your journey! I offer a free trial session, flexible payment plans, and I am here to answer any questions you might have. Don’t hesitate to reach out!