Improve your posture with these restorative yoga and physical therapy poses that you can do during work hours right at your desk. Some of these poses will use your chair as a prop. We will also explore the benefits of having a good posture. Yes, technology has brought forth a plethora of conveniences that facilitate daily living – laptops, smartphones, kitchen gadgets, home appliances that all provide the utmost of comfort.
Unfortunately, technology is also the cause of one of the most common yet difficult to correct issues – bad posture. You see people with bad posture everywhere. People who are bending their heads while texting; slouching on their seats while watching TV; or positioning their bodies as if they can defy gravity.
What’s the Importance of Having Good Posture?
Poor posture does not only affect your physical appearance. It can lead to a variety of conditions that can threaten your health and well-being.
Yes, our modern lifestyle has affected our posture. Sitting too long in front of the computer can cause the muscles in the hip area to tighten up.
Because of bad habits in the way we sit, stand and move, we are unintentionally hurting our bodies, consequently affecting our posture.
Janda’s Muscle Imbalance Syndromes
Perhaps the best way to understand how our bodies react from improper movements is Janda’s Muscle Imbalance Syndromes (image above). It shows which muscles are inhibited and facilitated.
Do you have unexplained headaches and other bodily aches? Has it occurred to you that these may be caused by poor posture?
When you slouch or arch your back, some of your muscles are inhibited, thus failing to function as they should. To makeup for this, the stronger muscles have to work overtime. Constant, daily pressure on these muscles cause them to tense and hurt in time.
What happens to the inhibited muscles?
Over time, they grow weak. Do you notice how your upper body hurts when you try to straighten your posture after a long period of slouching? It’s because the weak muscles have been too used to being inhibited. Unfortunately, these conditions can lead to chronic body pains and a host of other issues – poor blood circulation, heart diseases, etc.
Why posture is important
More than looking great, having a good posture can give you the following benefits:
- Improves your memory and learning
- Enhances your well-being
- Boosts your self-confidence
- Reduces chances of lower and upper back pain
- Improves breathing
- Improves glandular health
- Makes you look taller and slimmer
- Enhances blood circulation
- Improves digestion
- Facilitates weight loss
- Reduces joint pains
- Increases focus and productivity
How Can Yoga Poses for Better Posture Help You?
1. Yoga strengthens specific muscles
Try raising one arm for about 30 seconds. Notice the strain? It’s because only the strong muscles are working. But when you do yoga, you learn to isolate the weak muscle and mentally command it to function. Constant practice will strengthen those muscles until your movements become effortless.
2.Yoga helps relieve lower back pain
There are lots of yoga poses for better posture. These are specifically created to relax the lower back, thus relieving the tension that occurs when you sit too long, lift heavy objects or do athletic activities.
3. Yoga improves breathing
Proper breathing is very important in yoga. As you do a pose, you will be taught to take a deep, luxurious breath through your nose and exhale slowly. This will help the lungs function better. As a result, you’ll have better blood flow. Improved blood flow means faster healing for your body.
Yoga Poses for Better Posture
Nobody is born with a good or bad posture. All babies are born with flexible bones and muscles. Poor posture is actually a result of bad habits that have developed over time. As you go through life, structural changes can happen . The beauty of yoga poses is that we can strive to achieve better posture through consistent practice.
Yoga Poses for Better posture that You Can Do in Your Office
The good thing about these poses is that they do not require specialized tools or equipment. All you need is a chair and a table.
1. Let us begin with this simple chair exercise.
Benefits: relieves back pain by stretching the back muscles along the spinal column.
How to do it: Allow the body to slouch (slumpasana). As you do this, let your arms drop forward. Then put your hands on top of your thighs and use them to push your body to an upright position.
2. Standing forward bend on chair
This is an all time fave pose of all of my clients , no matter what issues they have. It can be practiced any time of the day. Do it to give your body a break from prolonged standing or sitting .
Benefits : Relieves fatigue in lower back and legs and improves flexibility for better posture alignment. This is a calming yet energizing exercise. Great for pacifying pitta and releasing fear.
How to do it: Stand an arm’s length away from a chair. Tighten your core and slowly bend forward until your hands touch the top of the chair’s backrest. Hold for a few seconds. Slowly return to the upright position.
3. Supported forward bend
Here’s an awesome stretch for relieving stiffness in the lower back and hips.
Benefits: calming ex, improves flexibility of hips and low back , offers restorative break after prolonged standing , sitting, being in lots of meetings , pacifies pitta.
How to do it: Put your hands on top of a chair. Slowly slouch over the chair as shown in the image below. Hold for a few seconds then go back to the upright position. Remember to tighten your core at all times.
4. Standing supported twist
This is the perfect pose for the middle of the back. It energizes and can be practiced anytime for quick relief.
Benefits: relieves stiffness and discomfort in mid back , offers restorative break from sitting too long and improves postural alignment
How to do it: Place a chair against the wall. Then put your right leg on top of the chair. Twist your body, put your hands against the wall and push gently. Return to position and lower your leg. Repeat several times. Repeat the process for the left leg.
5. Seated supported forward bend and standing supported half dog
Here’s another yoga pose that you can practice whenever your stomach is not full or after a hectic morning.
Benefits: This yoga pose calms ex, activates parasympathetic nervous system and induces relaxation in the brain and postural muscles
How to do it: Put a chair in front of a table. Sit properly and tighten your core. Fold your arms over your chest, lift upward. Put your folded arms on the table. Still tightening your core, slowly bend your upper body towards the table and rest your head over your arms. Yes, it’s just like taking a nap in the office!
The standing supported half dog is a variation of this pose. You do the same steps, but without a chair to sit on.
6. Seated Spinal Twist
Doing this yoga pose will straighten and strengthen your back. It will give you a rejuvenating feeling too.
Benefits: This yoga pose relieves the tension on your back and exercises, massages and revitalizes the the organs in your abdominal area. It also strengthens the lateral sides of your body. Hold for 20 seconds. Return to neutral position. Repeat.
How to do it: Sit on a chair, arms on the side, head aligned with the chest and feet flat on the floor. Inhale. Twist your body gently to the left, bringing the right hand to the left side of the chair while the left hand goes on top of the chair.
Poses that need you to get on the floor
There are yoga poses that need to be done on the floor. Remember to use a mat to protect your spine and body.
7. Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
This pose gets its name from its appearance – like a bow.
Benefits: This is one of the yoga poses for better posture that really works. It makes your back more flexible, exercises the pelvic muscles and tones the lower extremities. Best for women who are suffering from menstrual cramps.
How to do it: Lie on your stomach, arms on the side and feet apart. Then bend your knees, with feet towards the ceiling and grab your ankles. Take a deep breath, lift your chest then pull your legs. Hold for 20 seconds (keep breathing!) Then release your legs slowly and relax as you exhale.
8. Boat pose
Benefits: Want to replace your flabs with abs? Then this is one of the yoga poses for better posture that can also firm your belly and abdominal muscles, thus creating those beautiful six packs. It also improves digestion and blood flow and strengthens the muscles involved in this pose.
How to do it: Sit on the floor, legs in front, arms on the side. As you inhale, strengthen your core then raise both your upper body and legs, buttocks firmly set on the floor. Stretch your arms towards your legs. Imagine that your body is creating a huge letter V. Hold for 20 seconds, release and exhale as you resume original position.
9. Fish Pose
This is one pose that gives your upper back that soothing, refreshing feeling.
Benefits: Relieves and rejuvenates the neck and upper body muscles. Good for people who suffer from constipation, menstrual cramps and fatigue.
How to do it: Lie flat on your back. Put your hands, palms down, under your buttocks. Clip your arms to the sides of your body. Strengthen your core and inhale as you arch your back as far as you can. Then slowly release your head back to the floor. Be careful not to overstretch your neck to avoid injury. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Then slowly release as you exhale.
10. Downward dog
This is one of the first poses taught in yoga classes. It’s also used in a lot of exercises like Pilates.
Benefits: Promotes blood circulation, stretches the back and abdominal muscles, corrects posture, stabilizes footing.
How to do it: Lie flat on your stomach. Tighten your core, press your hands firmly on the floor and push up until you come onto all fours. Then slowly tuck your toes under and lift your hips upwards. Straighten your knees, pull your thighs back and raise your hips higher. Spread your fingers. Hold for 20 seconds. Release by lowering your knees to the floor.
Bridge Pose Setu Bandhasana
Benefits: Relaxes the mind, improves digestion, lessens mood swings, reduces symptoms of dysmenorrhea and menopause, improves posture and blood circulation
How to do it: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Tighten your core as you press your lower back down. Slowly lift your hips towards the ceiling, then gently roll up your back, vertebra by vertebra. Keep your arms glued to your side as you do this. Make sure that your feet are firmly planted on the floor. Exhale as you slowly lower down your body.
Better Posture for a Better Life Ahead
Do these yoga poses for better posture to prevent permanent damage to your spine, as can be seen from the image below.
Why suffer from the effects of poor posture when you can do something about it? Practice these yoga poses for better posture as often as you can and begin to enjoy their benefits.
The stretches and poses in this article have been put together by Kanchan Thakar. Kanchan Thakar is a licensed physical therapist for 25+ years. She likes to integrate restorative yoga in her practice for personal wellness and also for those who need help with mobility and pain issues. Recently, during the pursuit of expanding her horizons, she studied with world renowned restorative Yoga teacher Judith Lasater and got a certification for teaching Restorative yoga. She is based out of Cupertino, California
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