The way we hold our bodies affects who we are and who we become in the world. For many of us, it is obvious that our minds change our posture. For instance, when we feel sad or tired, we tend to slouch. But what is often overlooked is that the reverse is true too: our posture changes our minds.
Recent studies have shown yoga classes to improve posture, and it’s not surprising that this is true. In addition to increasing body awareness, yoga strengthens the core and lengthens the spine. The spine is the thing that holds up our body all day long, so it’s important to keep it in tip-top condition. Not to mention it has to support that heavy bowling ball of a head we carry around all day long!
Try these simple poses to improve your posture daily:
1. Mountain Pose
Stand tall, feel your feet on the ground, open your chest with arms at your sides, slightly tuck your tailbone, engage your thighs, roll your shoulders back and down to lower your shoulder blades, and bring your chin back so your ears are above your shoulders. It’s all in the chin and you want to align your body from feet to head.
2. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Just hang there, grab your elbows with your opposite hands, and breathe. After you release your arms, try looking up by opening the chest and flattening your back on an inhale. Then exhale and fold again. This pose can save you on visits to the chiropractor!
3. Cobra Pose
This is an ideal pose for strengthening the back and opening the chest. Place your hands on the mat in front of you in a sphinx position and then slowly straighten your arms into your full extension of cobra. Bring your shoulders away from your ears, while keeping your pelvis and toes on the mat.
4. Locust Pose
Open your chest lifting your arms and legs off the mat while keeping the pelvis on the mat. If necessary, you can lift just your chest and aim your arms towards your feet.
Remember, just like our bad habits developed over time, our good habits take time to build back up as well. Try practicing these poses and see which ones resonate with you. Give yourself reminders in your calendar or on your desk to be present to your posture. In the end you will breathe, move, and feel better.