Yoga is a great way to meditate, relax, and reconnect with yourself. Yoga focuses on improving or elevating all the aspects of your well being; spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional.
Yoga can help with weight loss as well as posture as there are yoga poses for bad posture. If you have been dealing with pain caused by lack of proper posture then yoga might just be the thing you are looking for.
Bad posture causes
Before going into what yoga poses you can do in order to improve your posture, you should know or identify first what is the main cause or contributor to your posture.
Identifying the problem can help you know what caused your poor posture in the first place and help you come up with ways to prevent it from getting worse or to avoid having to do the same habit or routine.
Sitting down for a long time
Sitting down for a long time is one of the most common and main reasons for so many people having posture issues. Whether you have a desk job or you spend long hours in front of your computer, sitting down for a long time is bad for your back and spine.
When you’re focused on your work or doing a task while sitting down, you may not notice how time flies which can then mold your back into the wrong posture, especially when you have this as a daily habit or routine.
One of the ways you can prevent your posture from being affected by your desk job or work is by creating the right desk set-up.
This means the right chair and correct monitor height. Another thing you can do is by getting up from your desk and taking breaks from your computer or workspace every once in a while.
Injury or accident
No one wants to get into an accident or get injured, but the reality is it does happen. Accidents and injuries are some of the reasons for other people’s posture problems.
Whiplash is a common term used for injuries on the head and neck brought about by a sudden and strong force. The common symptoms for this are back pain, neck pain, and fatigue.
Although your posture will most likely go back to normal after treatment, practicing or exercising your muscles is an important post-treatment habit to have.
Spasm is another thing you need to be wary about after an injury as spasms is the body’s way of protecting the vulnerable and injured area.
Spasms limit and stiff your movements which can lead to your muscles weakening overtime brought about by lack of movement and exercise.
This imbalance of muscles can then lead to a lack of proper posture.
Sometimes your posture problem is brought about by something that you cannot control or avoid such as genetics.
Scoliosis and Sheuermann’s disease are examples of hereditary diseases that can cause bad posture. Though for genetic or hereditary cases, rather than doing yoga or engaging in exercises, it is best to consult with a doctor first for proper management and treatment of your posture.
Carrying a heavy bag
Whether it is a backpack, sling bag, or purse. Having a daily habit of carrying a heavy bag may not be good for your posture. Carrying heavy bags can put a lot of strain on your back, shoulder, and neck, and when withstanding for a long period of time can have long term effects on your posture.
Backpacks can place pressure on both your shoulders and back and can cause your neck to bend forward while a one strap bag can cause disproportion to one side (where you usually place your bag).
When carrying a backpack make sure the contents are not that heavy and that you take a break from time to time, while for one strap bags make sure to alternate carrying on both sides.
Having heavy weight or poor nutrition
Believe it or not, being obese plays its role in giving you bad posture. There is a simple and straightforward explanation for this.
When you gain weight, and fats start to accumulate in your abdominal area, your body will look for ways to support it. One way the body adjusts and supports your belly fat is by moving your lower back forward causing you to have poor posture.
Poor nutrition also plays a strong role in your posture. When the body is low or lacks nutrients, the body’s muscle and bones will weaken which means less support in holding the body upright. Calcium and vitamin D play an essential role in promoting you with better posture.
Using your smartphone or gadget
A lot of people are addicted to their mobile devices. With smartphones being able to provide a lot of interaction and entertainment, people often find it impossible to put them down.
Whether you admit it or not, too much use of your smartphone can cause a lot of health problems, just like with your posture.
With people being too hooked on their phones, the majority of the time, they tend to tilt or bow their head down, when you’re in this position for a long time, this will put a lot of stress on your neck and spine.
With smartphones being a good distraction and entertainer, you may not even notice that you’ve been in a posture for hours.
Aging is something that everyone will eventually go through. Though aging is a great way to realize that you have made it far in life and that you have made the most out of it, there are some downsides to getting old. One example is posture problems.
As you age, you become shorter and lower to the ground, this is because your back starts to stoop forward causing your back to arch thus leading to posture issues.
When you start having this posture, it may become quite difficult to balance yourself and you can become prone to falling or slipping down.
Though growing old is inevitable, there are ways to prevent your body from growing into bad posture.
One of the simplest yet effective ways to avoid posture issues as you age is by having a more active lifestyle. This means more exercises and activities rather than sitting down and giving in to your age.
Sleeping in the wrong position
Another major contributor to is sleeping in the wrong position. As you rest your body from the day’s work, you may feel too tired or are in a heavy dream to realize that your body is lying in the wrong position. When this occurs, your body stays in a bad position that lasts for hours.
As people have a habit of sleeping every day, not being aware that you’re sleeping in a bad position every night could have negative long-term effects on your posture.
Fortunately, however, if sleep can cause these issues, it can also improve them. Rather than just correcting your sleeping position, why don’t you sleep in the correct way as to achieve even better posture?
This one is for the ladies. Though heels can make you look and feel good, it may not be the same with your posture.
High heels are great for occasions, parties, gatherings, events, work, and even casually when you feel like wearing them, though when worn for too long can cause pain on your legs, bottom, and even your spine.
This works as heels change the center of your body’s mass. As you wear heels, your body leans or is pushed forward thus causing misalignment on your spine.
When you wear heels all day, especially at work, this means that for hours, your spine is not aligned, which can cause it to adjust to the improper form or posture.
Though, this doesn’t mean that you should say goodbye to those heels there are some things you can do in order to lessen the effects of heels on your spine.
Pregnancy and giving birth may be one of the most challenging obstacles a woman faces, other than having cravings, mood swings, and contractions, lower back and neck pain is no stranger to pregnant women.
When pregnant, you can expect that you could have changes in your posture, this though highly depends on whether you will be undergoing practices and habits which can help you have less back and neck pain and maintain proper posture.
When you are pregnant, the weight of your baby becomes heavy which can make your lower back move forward, the muscles in your abdomen also stretches which can cause lesser contraction and alignment on your back, lastly, your hormone levels during pregnancy spikes that can cause your ligaments and joints to become loose.
Though these may make pregnancy sound even more terrifying or nerve-wracking, as mentioned before, there are ways for you to maintain proper posture.
Yoga poses for bad posture
Yoga is one of the best methods and practices you can use for improving posture.
There is a category in yoga which is called ‘heart openers’ that is the best to use for bad posture. Based on the name ‘heart openers’ these poses in yoga are those that mostly consists of pushing your chest forward that causes your back to arch and stretch.
Though other than helping your back and spine to recover and feel better, chest openers are also known for helping one to ‘open-up’ this means better handling of emotions, healing of old pains and wounds, and feeling better and lighter.
1. Downward-facing dog
The downward-facing dog or also known as Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the most recommended yoga poses for relief and correction of bad posture. This is considered as a powerhouse pose and is one of the first few poses that you learn in yoga.
This pose is great for strengthening your arms, shoulders, and core while stretching and relaxing your back, chest, shoulders, and hamstrings.
How to do this:
- Start with the plank pose or push-position.
- Make sure that your heels are hip-width apart. Stretch and spread out your finder while you press firmly against your workout or yoga mat (keep in mind that your weight should be evenly distributed on both hands).
- Breathe deeply and slowly and when you exhale, raise your hips upwards towards the ceiling in order to form a reversed v-shape.
- Stretch out your back as much as you can, trying to arch it towards your knees.
- Keep your head and neck relaxed and make sure that your shoulders are away or not touching your ears.
- Lower your heels to the ground as well, in order to stretch out the muscles of your calves and hamstrings. Engage or tighten your abs throughout.
- Stare towards your toes or navel and hold this position for about eight slow and steady breaths.
2. Cobra pose
Cobra pose or also referred to as Bhujangasana is one of the best yoga poses for posture issues. This posture focuses on key parts such as your neck, shoulders, and back.
The main purpose or role of this pose is to correct the alignment of your neck and shoulders while strengthening your spine and back.
How to do this:
- Lay down on your stomach with your forehead making contact with the floor or mat and your toes uncurled and relaxed.
- Relax your neck and shoulders
- Place both of your hands right next to your ribs with palms placed firmly on the ground or mat.
- Spread and stretch out gently your fingers.
- Slowly but firmly push against the mat and lift your upper body (Forehead and chest).
- When you raise your upper body, make sure to slightly raise your knee cap as well, creating a small gap between the floor.
- Hold this pose for three to five breaths.
3. Bridge pose
Commonly used in exercises and workouts, the bridge pose or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana is a yoga pose that mainly focuses on strengthening multiple body parts such as your lower back, hamstrings, and core.
One of the main highlights of this pose is that you can determine how deep or how much you want to stretch your back.
How to do this:
- Lie down on your back with your arms placed at your sides, palms faced down on the mat.
- At hip-width distance, bend your knees and plant your feet firmly on the ground.
- Breathe deeply and on the exhale lift your hips upward toward the ceiling, use your palms as support by firmly pressing against the mat.
- Hold this position for a few breaths and repeat.
4. Mountain pose
Mountain pose or Samasthiti or Tadasana is a very simple yet effective yoga pose for improving posture. This yoga pose mainly focuses on making you aware of your posture alignment when standing.
This yoga pose is considered as an essential and important pose to include to your posture improvement because it promotes balance, strength, awareness, poise, and effort.
Though it may seem like you are just standing still but this pose could be the answer to always remind you or keep you aware of how you stand.
How to do this:
- Stand on your yoga mat
- Keep your feet parallel to each other with your toes pointing forward. Make sure that the distance between your feet is the same width as your hips.
- Sway forward and backward and side to side so that you can balance your weight on both your legs and feet.
- Firmly plant your feet on the ground without having to lock your knees
- Stand up straight and place your hands beside your thighs.
- Slowly rotate your palms forward-facing front and stretch your fingers toward the ground
- Open your chest but not so much that you’d arch your back.
- Relax your shoulders
- Balance the crown or top of your head while keeping your chin parallel to the floor.
- Stay in this position for a number of breaths or seconds even one to two minutes.
5. Cow face arms
The cow face arms pose or gomukhasana is probably one of the most convenient poses on this list that you can do anywhere.
This pose can be done while sitting down or standing up, and can even be done in front of your computer or desk. Other than taking a 5-minute break from sitting down, why don’t you add this to your break routine?
This pose helps relax tight or stiff triceps, shoulders, and lats.
How to do this:
- Find a comfortable sitting position either on your yoga mat, couch, office chair, and even on the ground.
- Lift your right arm up towards the ceiling and bend it down reaching your back.
- Open your left arm downward and bend it behind your back as well.
- Move your hands closer to one another until both of them can touch or hold through the fingertips. (If you cannot reach your hands, you can make use of a yoga strap, scarf, towel, or belt).
- Draw your elbows and lift or open your chest (Don’t forget your breathing).
- Hold this position for five breaths.
- Do the same on the other side.
6. Bow pose
Do you want a really intense backstretch? Dhanurasana or bow pose is one of the most intense heart openers poses. When done correctly and regularly, this pose can have a great and relaxing impact on your chest and back.
Before doing this pose remember to do proper stretching first. Also, if this is your first time to do this pose, make sure that you have an experience or expert yogi with you.
How to do this pose:
- Lie down on your yoga mat, down on your belly. Place your arms on the sides, with your chin and forehead resting gently on your mat.
- Slowly and carefully, draw your feet toward you back.
- Reach your arms backward to get a hold of your ankles. When doing this maintain a hip-width distance.
- When you inhale, push your ankles further into your hands and roll or pull your shoulders away from your ears.
- Lift your chest and thighs higher, creating a more circled form with your body.
- Hold this position for several breaths.
- When releasing this position, take a few breaths before repeating this pose.
- When fully accomplished, perform a Child’s pose with your legs wide open to release your spine.
7. Cat-cow pose
The Marjaryasana-Bitilasana or cat-cow pose is sort of like a stretching yoga pose. This pose helps give your spine more flexibility while stretching your neck, back, and torso.
Other than this, this pose can strengthen and stimulate your abdominal organs. As a chest opener pose, this pose helps you to get proper, slow, and deep breaths.
How to do this:
- Kneel down on your mat with the palm of your hands placed firmly on the mat. Make sure that your hands are in line with your shoulders.
- Point the fingers of your hands forward.
- Set your legs and feet in width apart.
- Relax your head and place it in a neutral position.
- Starting with the cow pose, as you inhale, drop your stomach towards your yoga mat and arch your back. As you do this, lift both of your chin and chest and turn your gaze toward the ceiling.
- Stretch your shoulders and draw them away from your ears.
- Going into the cat pose, as you exhale, draw or tuck your stomach into your body and curve your back towards a ceiling, resembling that of a cat stretching its back.
- Bow down your head and bring your chin closer to your chest. Do not force your chin and chest to make contact.
- On another inhale, repeat both poses.
- You can repeat this pose five to twenty times.
- Once done, you can relax by sitting on your heels with your back or spine straight up.
8. Supported fish pose
Time to give some love to your upper back. The Matsyasana or supported fish pose is a heart opener that focuses on your chest and upper back. This pose is ideal for many people as most of the time, people tend to hunch down, whether it be due to your desk job or overuse of gadgets.
This posture mainly corrects and reverses the bad effects brought about by hunching or sitting down. The best part of this pose is that it’s very easy and requires minimal effort.
How to do this pose:
- Start this yoga pose by placing a yoga block on top of your mat. You’ll be using two yoga blocks for this pose. Arrange those blocks to create a T-shape, with a little bit of space in between them.
- With the help of your hands, slowly lie down on those blocks, with the top block (horizontal line) supporting your head while the lower block (vertical block) is placed in between your shoulder blades.
- Keep your legs long and relax them, with your arms resting on the sides, palms face up.
- Close your eyes and relax.
- Stay in this pose for two to five minutes.
9. Plank pose
While this is not really a heart opener, the plank pose is probably something you know or are familiar with. This pose mainly focuses on the strength of your core, and while it doesn’t mention anything about your back, your core actually plays a vital role on your posture.
In addition to this, as you do the plank pose, this can help you become aware of which areas or parts are the weakest, thus giving you an idea where you need more work on.
How to do this pose:
- Start with the downward-facing dog position.
- Take a few breaths then as you inhale, draw your body forward towards the ground until your arms are perpendicular with the ground or floor. Your wrists should also be directly under your shoulders.
- Your upper body should be parallel to the ground.
- Hold and stay in this position for thirty seconds to one minute
10. Seated side stretch
This pose belongs to one of the easiest yoga poses to do. This may even seem familiar to you as you may have done this during your gym class. Though despite being simple and easy to do, this pose has a number of benefits to your posture.
This pose can stretch your hips and thigh and abdominal muscles while promoting the flexibility of your spine. In addition to this, this pose can stretch the intercostal muscles (the muscles in between your ribs).
Since this pose is easy to do, you can do this during your free time and in the comfort of your home.
How to do this pose:
- Start this pose by sitting on your mat with your legs crossed. Place your arms on the sides and relax.
- Raise your right or left hand towards the ceiling, with a small space between your face.
- Using your other hand, place it on the ground and slowly slide it down with your torso leaning towards that side.
- As you move closer to the floor slowly turn your chest open towards the ceiling.
Benefits of having proper posture
Having proper posture can help you look good and feel good while, on the other hand, having poor posture makes you prone to back pain, stress, and even overall body strain.
Though, it may seem like these are the only benefits of good posture but you’ll be surprised to know that good posture comes with numerous benefits that can even make you rethink how well you are paying attention and caring for it.
Just to give you an idea on why you should have proper posture, here are some benefits of it:
Look taller and have better self-confidence
Having proper posture can make you feel confident inside and out and boost your self-esteem.
Some examples of this are during an interview or meeting, relaxing your shoulder and sitting or standing up right can make you speak and communicate better while giving off a strong yet comforting presence.
In addition to having a good presence all the time, having a good posture can give the impression that you are taller because you are. Stretching and having an upright back can give your spine more length and can make you not only taller but also slimmer.
This is one of the reasons why people are often attracted to those that have better posture because other than giving off a nice presence, their physical traits are also more noticeable.
You can perform better
Having a good posture can help you do things even more efficiently than you can imagine.
For example, when you have poor posture, you have more difficulty in balancing and you know well enough how balance can affect a lot of your day to day activities, from dancing to sports, and even in walking balance plays a strong role.
This is because muscles that are inflexible can hinder and reduce its range of motion. For example, when your chest muscles are tight, it has the tendency to pull your shoulders forward, when this happens, some movement may become difficult for you to perform.
You may not know it but muscle strength has an effect on your posture, this is because muscular strength is needed in order to have proper posture.
To further explain this, the core muscles found in your back, pelvis, sides, and buttocks have a strong link and provides support to your lower and upper body.
When the muscles are weak in those areas, it can result in slumping and slouching which can cause a misaligned back.
The same goes for leg muscles, when the muscles on your legs are weak, you may have difficulty standing up and keeping a straight body.
Improved digestion and blood circulation
There is a reason why your posture affects your blood circulation and digestion. This is because when your muscles are inflexible and tight it can compress your vital organs, when this occurs there is a lesser blood flow which can lead to a poorer performance of your organs.
In order to have a heavier and stronger blood flow you need proper alignment and position. Crossing your legs for example can cause cramp circulation thus lesser blood flow.
As mentioned, better blood flow means better organ performance, this means your digestion can work to its fullest potential, this contributes to the idea why people with proper posture are slimmer.
Less pain and tension on your back, shoulders, and neck
Probably the most common reason why people opt to look for ways to improve their posture is due to the unbearable pain and strain that you experience on your back, shoulders, and neck. Of course, who wants to deal with pain and that kind of distraction? No one.
Standing or sitting for long periods of time can trigger pain in those areas, the same goes for using your gadgets for a long period of time which can help develop hunches on the neck area.
Having a straight and upright posture can help reduce pain and stress on your neck, shoulders, and back. This is because having proper posture can reduce chronic overuse of muscles.
Having proper posture is something that you should promote into your lifestyle, other than making you look good and reducing those numbing pain on your shoulders, neck, and back area, having a good posture can add more benefits to your life when you enforce it.
Just to give a few recap and examples, having good posture boosts your physical appearance and self-esteem, it also helps your body have better blood circulation and digestion, lastly, having proper posture means your muscles are strong and that your body is capable of performing more than what is expected.
Whether you have poor posture or want to maintain your proper posture, one of the ways that you could correct or maintain the right posture is by following the doctor’s advice, engaging in physical activities, or as discussed, through yoga.
Yoga is the way to go if you want not only to have a better posture but to also improve your spiritual and mental lifestyle. Not to mention, yoga for bad posture requires less equipment, less intensity, and can be done at the comfort of your home.