Yoga can be an engaging experience to improve posture without any strenuous effort.
While poor posture can negatively impact health, confidence and other aspects of well-being, poor health and confidence reflect in our posture.
Why Posture is Important
Good posture is the ability of the skeleton structure and musculature to keep the body upright. It contributes to proper alignment of the pelvis, torso, back, neck, shoulders and head.
Good posture has many benefits to overall health and wellbeing.
1. Aids breathing
It opens up the lungs to its full capacity. This improves breathing and increases the supply of oxygen.
Maintaining posture lengthens the muscles and tendons, increases the ability to take deep breaths and enhances breathing a considerable amount.
2. Benefits the internal organs
Good posture is conducive to the natural placement of the internal organs thus leading to effective function. Proper posture also aids in efficient movement of fluids and better functioning of the intestines.
Healthy posture can, in fact, aid proper functioning of the intestines. One study concluded that upright positions can ease symptoms of excessive gas and possibly lessen the symptoms of IBS.
3. Supports the back, spine and neck
Posture also has an effect on intervertebral discs. Poor posture while sitting exerts pressure on the back and intervertebral discs.
While sitting with good posture leaning slightly backward at a 100-degree angle lessens the load on supporting muscles, distributes weight evenly. It also helps to align the bones, ligaments and muscles.
Good posture while sitting can prevent long-term defects, disorders and pain. Improving posture can greatly reduce the strain on the back, prevent neck injuries and cause-related aches to magically disappear.
4. Makes you happier
Research has shown that good posture contributes to a happier disposition while slouching and slumping can have negative effects on mood and energy levels.
Research has also proven that when we sit upright we tend to think positively.
Hunched shoulders and back can make you look sad and also portray a lack of confidence.
Good posture improves your appearance and makes you appear more confident which in turn can boost mood and improve the symptoms of depression.
5. Mental health benefits
Besides being able to alleviate depression, good posture can reduce negative memory bias in depressed individuals.
A study has shown that more positive words were recalled by these people when they sat in upright positions as opposed to slouching.
Good posture contributes to enhanced breathing and circulation, which in turn increases the supply of oxygen to the brain.
Better circulation and a surge in oxygen levels help us concentrate better, improves memory and enhances brain function.
How Yoga can Help in Posture and Related Issues
Besides the many body and mind benefits that yoga reveals, it can do wonders for posture. It is also known to reverse chronic postural problems such as Hyperkyphosis which is an excessive curvature of the spine.
Besides yoga can reduce stress, lessen depression and improve health in general which in turn can have a positive impact on posture.
An optimally functioning spine and nervous system contribute to overall health and energy.
Through yoga the alignment of the spine can be corrected, thus reducing back problems, improving musculature and mobility and benefiting the overall health of your body.
Studies were conducted on the effects of yoga to correct posture and reduce related pain in the neck, shoulders, middle back, lower back, and pelvis.
Participants in these studies who had a slouching problem had the highest pain levels.
In one study, pain symptoms of the neck and shoulders in subjects considerably lessened after a month of yoga and other stretching exercises as opposed to those before any exercise regimen.
In another study, participants who had pain in the cervical region due to postural problems demonstrated a reduction after around 8 weeks of yoga and stretching exercises.
Some study observed the effects specifically of Iyengar yoga on back or neck pain and spinal problems on adults from 18 to 67 years of age.
Trained teachers used props to treat particular muscle groups with an adaptation of postures. Results demonstrated a considerable decrease in pain with this kind of yoga.
Iyengar yoga seemed to have helped with neck pain and improved back function.
These yoga movements and postures focus on bodily awareness, attention, and an alignment between the mental, nervous, musculoskeletal systems.
The postures help in opening up tight muscles to support them and in turn correct posture.
Yoga incorporates varied poses along with breathing techniques. This helps to maintain cervical, thoracic, and lumbar positions and reinforce thoracic, abdominal and respiratory functions by supporting and maintaining proper posture.
Yoga also combines breathing with beginner level poses that in fact lengthen the spine, expand previously closed spaces within the spine and allow for growth and changes in the structure of the spine.
Specific poses such as Balasana or Child’s Pose can through practice develop a rounded curvature of the spine. This improves flexibility and elasticity of the spine and consequently increases the suppleness of the back, neck and shoulder muscles.
Garudhasana or Eagle Pose is another pose that helps to develop more curve in the thoracic region. Through these poses, yoga has proven to relieve symptoms of scoliosis and provide alignment to the spine and shoulders.
These studies concluded that consistent yoga practice and another exercise can help posture, which stabilizes the equilibrium of the body, contributes to relaxation of the whole body, and in turn alleviates musculoskeletal pain.
Thus, besides the reduction of chronic pain and other postural problems, yoga can contribute towards overall wellbeing.
3 Yoga Positions for Posture Correction
Among the countless yoga asanas, there are some, which work especially on spine and posture.
These postures work on reducing pain in the neck, shoulder and back. Regular yoga practice can heighten awareness of one’s body to help in correcting posture and improve health in general.
1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Mountain pose is an erect standing posture. You may wonder how a simple standing posture may have any benefits. Tadasana is a preparatory posture that teaches us how to stand correctly and forms the basis for proper posture.
It can be surprising that this simple standing pose engages various muscle groups and regular practice can correct many posture problems.
How to perform Tadasana
- Start by standing with your feet parallel to each other and your arms by your sides. Distribute your weight evenly across your feet while inhaling and exhaling.
- Gradually lift and create a distance between your toes and rest them firmly on the ground.
- Lift your kneecaps by engaging your thigh muscles, rotate your upper thighs slightly inward while and elongate your tailbone.
- Your shoulder should be expanded and rested on the back. Lift the top of your sternum and extend the collarbones while maintaining a neutral position in your ribs. Make sure your head is aligned to the midpoint of your hips, floor and your gaze turned slightly upward.
- Raise your arms over your head exactly shoulder width apart while relaxing your shoulders below ear level.
- Stay in the pose for around a minute, ensuring rhythmic breathing. Engage your legs and core slightly tuck your tailbone inwards.
Here is the video of the same for you –
2. Vriksasana (Tree Pose)
The tree pose helps to correct slouched postures and in turn helps strengthen the shoulders, spine and thighs.
When practice the tree pose we learn to remember to correctly align our bodies on a daily basis.
How to perform Vriksasana
- Start with Mountain Pose and gradually shift your weight slightly onto your left side, with your left sole planted firmly into the ground.
- Slowly bend your right knee while you reach for your right ankle to pull up your right foot up and place the sole against your inner left thigh near your groin with your toes pointing toward the ground.
- The centre of your pelvis should align with your left foot while your hands should rest over your pelvis. Elongate and straighten your tailbone toward the ground.
- Firmly rest your right foot against your inner thigh while strengthening your left leg.
- Bring your hands together over your head Namaste Mudra. Gaze gently at a fixed point ahead of you. Stay in this pose for around a minute while breathing rhythmically.
Here is the video of the same for you –
3. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
Downward Facing Dog is a simple pose can correct rounded shoulders and a hunched position, as it expands and elongates the spine, broadens the shoulders and increases lung capacity.
How to perform Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Go into tabletop position and then unbend to straighten your legs and raise your hips toward the ceiling.
- Your knees should be aligned with your hips and your hands not very far ahead of your shoulders with your palms spread out and toes tucked inwards.
- Elongate and straighten your tailbone while raising your sitting bones toward the ceiling.
With an exhalation, place your heels firmly down on the ground.
- Your shoulder should be firmly rested on your back and your head gently placed between your upper arms and aligned with your spine. Hold the position for around a minute.
Here is the video of the same for you –
Various yoga poses can be therapeutic in improving posture and the overall health of an individual.
Regular yoga is a natural way to align the body and mind without the use of medication with side effects.
Yoga thus lays the foundation for better posture and a cascade effect of other benefits.
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