Stand up taller with these yoga poses.
If you have poor posture, it’s best to correct it as soon as possible. Bad posture can lead to health problems like back pain, cardiovascular issues, and digestion issues. It can also change the way others see you and make you look heavier overall.
You can reverse your poor posture by doing certain yoga poses that open up your chest, stretch your shoulders, and strengthen your abdominals. The yoga poses below will help you to stand taller and find relief from the discomfort that comes with slouching and hunching your shoulders.
By Teresa Mason
For this pose, you will need two yoga blocks. Set both blocks on the medium height like a “T” (you can also set the top block on the tallest height for more support). The long part of the “T” will rest between your shoulder blades and the top block that is the top of the “T” will hold your head. Lying back on the blocks, there should be opening of the chest but no discomfort, so play around with where the longer block sits on your back to find that ‘sweet spot’. Relax your entire body and pull your shoulders away from your ears as you rest your hands palms up by your sides. Stay for 3-5 minutes.
Cow Face Arms
If sitting in a chair, ground down through both feet. If sitting on the floor, find any comfortable seated position. Lift the right arm skyward, then bend your elbow and reach your right fingers down your back. Wrap the left arm behind your back, left fingers reaching up towards the right fingers. Move the hands close to each other. If they touch, allow the right fingers to grab on to the left. Can’t touch hands yet? No worries! Grab a yoga strap (or belt, scarf, etc) between the two hands. Draw the elbows back and lift the chest. Breathe! Hold for 5 breaths and switch sides, lifting the left arm overhead and wrapping the right arm around and back.
Spread the fingers wide and bring your feet hip-width distance apart. Press the floor away with the hands and keep all muscles of the legs active – thighs lifting the kneecaps and extending energy through the back heels. Lift your hips to be in line with shoulders – don’t allow them to sink or sag towards the mat. Keep the core active, drawing navel in towards spine and activating your Uddiyana Bandha, or Abdominal Lock. Hold in 30 second intervals and option to add onto your time and work your way up to a full minute.
The first variation presses palms into lower back to protect the lumbar spine. Press your hips forward, lift your heart, and send your gaze up while keeping the thighs active and the shoulders away from the ears. Hold for three breaths, then slowly come out. The second variation starts where the first variation ends and brings the backbend deeper by reaching back, one hand at a time, to grab the heels. Keep those hips pressing forward and thighs active. Hold for three more breaths. After a few rounds of Camel, sit with a neutral spine for one breath and then fold forward to Child’s Pose to release the spine.
Lying on the belly, place your hands beneath the shoulders. Spread the fingers wide and press down evenly to lift the head, neck and chest off the mat. Squeeze the elbows in tight to the sidebody and slightly tuck the chin without putting any strain on the neck. Hold for three to five breaths for two or three rounds. Release and press back to Child’s Pose.
Wide Leg Forward Fold
From standing, heel toe your feet wider than hips distance apart – typically about four feet apart, the distance is based on what feels good in your body. Interlace your fingers behind your back. Inhale to lift the gaze and open the chest towards the ceiling, drawing the palms closer together. On the exhale, fold forward and allow your arms to hang up and overhead. If it is uncomfortable to keep your fingers interlaced, hold a yoga strap behind your back to create the same stretch but less intense. Breathe here for 30 seconds. Engage the core and inhale with a straight back to bring your body back to standing.
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All images courtesy of YogiApproved.com