Shoulders slumping? Try these poses for better posture.
Many of us find ourselves sitting at a desk for 8 hours or more each day at work, and you may find yourself ignoring the rules or ergonomics when it comes to keeping good posture. The consequences of this little oversight can include rounded shoulders, poor digestion, and back and neck pain, among other health concerns. But, never fear! Poor posture can be corrected through yoga.
Check out the 5 poses below for better posture and a healthier you!
By Arielle Rabier
1. Extended Puppy Pose
Start in child’s pose. Extend the arms long in front of you and rest the forehead on the ground. Enjoy five to ten breaths here, then lift up onto your hands and knees, aligning the shoulders over the wrists and hips over the knees. While keeping the hips over the knees, walk the hands out in front of you without letting the elbows touch the ground. Rest your forehead on the floor and reach your tailbone up and back while keeping a slight curve in your lower back. Press the hands down and stretch through the arms while pulling your hips back toward your heels. Hold for five to ten breaths.
2. Upward Facing Dog
Place the hands under the shoulders and press the tops of the feet down as you press into the palms to extend the arms and lift the chest, lower ribs, and thighs off the ground. Draw the shoulder blades together, allowing the chest to broaden, and puff the side ribs forward. Externally rotate the upper arm bones so the elbow creases point forward, draw the tailbone down towards the heels, lift through the quadriceps, and relax the buttocks. Lift the chin slightly to keep the neck aligned with the spine and avoid compressing the low back. Hold for five breaths.
3. Humble Warrior
Move into Warrior I by pointing both hip bones to the top of your mat. Draw the right hip back and send the left hip forward. For this variation, widen your stance so the feet are hip-width apart for better balance. Interlace your hands behind your back (use a belt or strap if the palms don’t connect). Inhale and extend your arms, reaching the fists down and lifting the heart. Exhale as you hinge forward at the hips, resting your chest on the front thigh. Breathe into the space between the shoulder blades, relax the crown of the head down and create more distance between the fists and the low back. Do your best to keep the back leg straight, a 90-degree bend in the front knee, and level hips. After five breaths inhale up to standing.
4. Bridge Pose
Lie on your back and extend your arms alongside the body. Bend your knees and walk your heels closer to your seat, keeping the legs hip-width apart. Exhale and press your feet and arms into the ground as you lift the hips off the floor. Rotate the pelvis so the tailbone is tilting toward the knees and thighs stay parallel. Interlace your hands underneath the body, extend the arms as you draw the shoulder blades together, and roll onto the shoulder mounds; press the pinky fingers into your mat. Use the strength of your legs to bring the hips a little higher and the chest closer to the chin. After five breaths, release the hands wider then the body and roll your spine down to the ground. Lower your knees to the right and left repeatedly to release the lower back.
5. Bow Pose
Lie on your belly with your hands alongside the body. Rest your forehand on the mat, bend the knees, and reach back for your ankles. Inhale, keeping knees parallel as you begin to press the ankles into the hands, causing the chest to lift off the floor. Engage the abdomen and breathe into the rib cage. Keep the neck in line with the spine by tucking the chin slightly. Allow the chest to open and draw the shoulder blades down the back. After four or five breaths, release with an exhale. Option to repeat this pose two or three additional rounds.
All photos courtesy of Jackelyn Ho.
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