Yoga for Better Posture

Thank you for all of the sequence suggestions, comments, and requests that came from my previous post! Over the next few weeks I will try and hit on all of the requests by creating sequences for them. Today is our first of those sequences: Yoga for Better Posture!

A secret (or, not secret any longer...) yoga teacher pet peeve of mine is when I walk into the studio to teach and folks are sitting on their mats, talking to fellow yogis... and slumping all over the place. It's not until I begin to talk about yoga posture and breathing that everyone sits up nice and straight. I think, from my own experience, that sometimes students try to look good in postures and perform well for the sake of the teacher. The truth is, I just want you to feel good in your bodies all the time, whether you're in front of me or not. And that applies to good posture for healthy backs, spines, and bodies.

A good comment on my other post was that all yoga assists in better posture. I tend to agree, so I offer a non-traditional sequence. Here is a "sequence" that you can read in class or say to yourself in your head to find grounding and a healthy, happy spine. Really, it's just one pose, but so much can happen internally in one posture that, well, might as well be a sequence.

Stand tall, me yogis!

  1. Begin in Tadasana, or Mountain Pose.
  2. Close your eyes and bring awareness to your feet.
  3. Shift your weight side to side and forward and back very slowly. Take 1-3 minutes to find an equal weight distribution. One good way to know that you have found solid footing is this way: When you close your eyes, do you feel your weight shifting in your feet unintentionally? Do you feel yourself gently swaying? It can take a lot of work (don't expect perfectly equal footing on the first go of it!) but will result in better balance in all postures. 
  4. Move your awareness up your legs. Make a choice: does it feel better to have a slight softness in my knees, or to engage the quadriceps and lift the knee caps? I don't believe that one is "right" and the other "wrong." What feels more grounded and stable?
  5. Let the tailbones feel heavy and long. Pretend that there is a one-pound weight attached to the tailbone so it neither tucks too far under nor sticks out. 
  6. Bringing your awareness to the long muscles on either side of the spine. As your inhale, raise your arms above your head and feel those muscles elongate. Exhale to lower your arms, but keep that "long" sensation along the back. 
  7. Palms either face toward torso or behind.
  8. Tone the belly slightly up and in to help support the work of the spine. 
  9. Roll your shoulders up to your ears and forward, taking long yummy circles. Do the same, rolling the shoulder up and down the back. Pause after a bit with the shoulder comfortably down the back. Feel broad across both your chest and your back.
  10. Consciously breath not just forward with your chest but out to the sides and back. Breathe 360 degrees. 
  11. Elongate your neck so that your shoulders are as far as possible from your ears. 
  12. Take your tongue to the roof of your mouth, where the hard palate meets the soft palate. Press your tongue gently to that spot to help encourage the crown of your head to the sky. Release the press of your tongue. 
  13. Relax your jaw and face. 
  14. Feel longer from the top of your head, down your neck, all the way down to your feet.
  15. Breathe!
If you are looking for good posture at your desk or in your seat, I recommend solidly planting both feet into the floor, sitting toward the edge of your chair, and-- if you sit for long hours every day-- seeing an ergonomics specialist if your office has one. 

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