Did you know that standing and sitting up straight can make you feel better, compared to slouching? Recent studies have shown that those who have good posture are more alert, confident, happy, and deal better with stress. It has even been shown that those with depression who practice good posture feel less fatigue, are less self-focused, and instantly are in a better mood. While this isn’t a cure for depression, and depression should be treated with professional help, this is an additional tool that can help those suffering from the illness. To learn more about some yoga poses for good posture, keep reading.
While for some, improving posture is as easy as bringing back the shoulders and tilting the head up, there’s plenty of people who feel immense pain from these actions, and others who suffer from other postural issues, such as lordosis, which is when the curve in the spine goes too far inward, or kyphosis, which is when the upper back is hunched. Another common issue is “text neck”, which is neck pain caused by looking down at one’s phone too much. Today, we will explain five yoga poses that combats these issues, as well as less exaggerated, unbalanced postures, that may be affecting your self-esteem, mood, or physical body.
People with good posture feel more alert, confident, happy, and deal better with stress.
Five Yoga Poses for Good Posture
Good for: Lower back pain, tight hip flexors, weak abdominal muscles, lordosis
Start off by lying on your back with your arms by your side and bending your knees with your feet flat on the ground.
Next, lift your torso about 35 to 45 degrees, making sure that your neck is straight and not curled inward and that your arms are lifted by your side.
After that, bring your feet off the ground, and lift your calves so that they are at a level height to your knees.
Breathe through your nose, inhaling and exhaling regularly as you hold the pose, feeling the strengthening of your abdominals, and the curving of your lower spine.
Hold this pose for about 30 seconds or until you’re too tired to stay in proper form, then slowly bring your legs and torso down to the ground.
Boat Pose is great for lower back pain as well.
2. Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mikva Svanasana)
Good for: Kyphosis, neck pain, strengthening the spine, and stretching the shoulders and abdomen.
Come onto your belly with your legs together, the back of your feet flat on the floor, and your hands planted firmly on the ground both on the sides of your chest.
Make sure that the shoulders are pushed back and that there is no space between your hands and the sides of your chest.
From here, straighten your arms, and bring up your torso, turning your gaze upward about 45 degrees.
Bring your shoulder blades towards each other and open your chest by rotating the triceps of your arms (back of your arms) inward. This will take pressure off the wrists and keep the shoulders from going towards your ears.
Lastly, push the tops of your feet into the ground to lift your knees off the floor. Stay here for up to two minutes and breathe in and out of the nose.
Upward-Facing Dog is great for strengthening and stretching the upper body.
3. Standing Forward Fold
Good for: slumped shoulders, neck pain, shoulder pain, stiff legs and lordosis
Come into standing position with your legs and feet an inch apart, keeping your spine straight and stretched vertically, while hanging your arms by your side.
Next, slowly swoop your arms up, stretching your spine even more, and then fold forward, bending your knees as much as you need to feel comfortable.
Once you are bent forward, cross your arms with your hands holding opposite elbows. Breathe here and rock your torso side to side, if that feels good.
After a couple breaths, try to straighten your legs a little bit more and feel the stretch along the back of your legs.
Bring your hands behind your back, and interlace them at the base of your tailbone. Keeping them interlaced, push downward to straighten your arms.
Lastly, bring your interlaced hands high above your body, feeling the stretch in the shoulders. Hold here for a couple breaths, then release, and slowly come back up to standing.
This pose is also good for those with slumped shoulders.
4. Hero Pose
Good for: Stretching hips and quads, loosening stiff ankles and feet, lengthening the spine, lordosis, and kyphosis
Start off in a kneeling position, and then try to sit back on your calves. If the stretch is too intense in your front thighs, put a block under your bum to relieve pressure.
From here, scoot your feet out to the sides, so that they are still touching your thigh, but visually exposed.make sure not to have them come out too far, for this can cause knee pain.
Lastly, focus on straightening your spine and relax your hands on your quads. Breathe here for about a minute and let your muscles and spine slowly stretch in this pose.
Hero pose both eases upper and lower spine pain.
5. Tree Pose
Good for: kyphosis, lordosis, improved balance, stretches spine, improves ability to stand longer, and strengthening legs.
Start off in a tall, standing position. Press into the left foot and shift your weight onto that side.
Bring your hands to your heart and bring the right foot on the inside of your left leg either above the ankle, on the calf, or above the knee. Just be sure not to place your foot on the knee, for that’ll cause knee pain and put you off balance.
Breathe here and focus on one spot in front of you, gazing at it continuously to keep your balance.
Next, raise your arms into a “V shape” to resemble the branches of a tree. Suck in your stomach and stretch your spine, breathing in and out of your nose. After a couple inhalations and exhalations, slowly put your right foot down on the ground and switch sides.
Tree Pose also improves your balance, and ability to stand longer as it strengthens your legs.
How to Use These Poses
Choose to incorporate these poses into your current yoga practice, or do the poses listed here that work best for you. If any of these poses are a contraindication for your current posture, please do not practice those poses. For example, if you have a large curve in your lower back, do not practice upward facing dog, for that will cause your back to curve in even more, and cause lower back pain. If your back is already hunched, do not practice boat pose, which puts you in a “crunch” position. You want to practice poses that counteract the problem you’re experiencing. If you practice poses that visually mimic the issues you’re having, you will only create more pain and negative adjustments to your posture. To receive additional help with bettering your posture, l recommend visiting a yoga therapist in your area. They can help you with emotional and physical issues through the use of yoga poses, and are starting to become more and more popular!
I hope you found this article helpful! If you did, let us know. We love sharing useful information and your feedback lets us know what you like and need. Namaste, yogis!
Yoga Alliance-registered yoga teacher, entrepreneur and professional writer based in Thousand Oaks, California. She loves sharing yoga and yoga philosophy with people all around the world through her teaching and writing, with the intent of helping others become their healthiest and most confident selves! You can find her at www.facebook.com/HaileyLuderYoga or www.haileyluder.com