A good posture helps one mitigate a lot of health disorders, including damage to the spine and several lifestyle issues as well
"Sit up straight!" "Don't slouch!" I am sure we have all heard those admonishing words more than once from our mother when we were growing up. And most of us would roll our eyes and, as soon as mom walked away, we’d slump back into a hunch. One does not realise the consequences of a wrong posture and how it can lead to serious risk factors.
The working class, which is used to sitting in office chairs for longer periods, staring at the monitor, ‘cradling’ the cell phone etc., suffers from several consequential lifestyle disorders. These poor postures cause mild-to-severe back and neck aches, which, when neglected, lead to damage of the spinal structures. Most of us don’t give importance to these aspects and later succumb to several lifestyle issues. Correcting your posture, therefore, plays an important role in making you fit and healthy. Yoga is one of the perfect ways to correct your posture.
Your body is said to be in the correct posture when it is aligned in such a way that the back is straight, shoulders squared and relaxed, chin up, chest out, and stomach in. Just like a straight line. Good posture entails distributing the force of gravity through our body so no one structure is overstressed.
The importance of a good posture:
- A good posture improves bodily alignment – when one stands or sits with the body properly aligned, all the organs function as intended. This includes the stomach, which is why a good posture is said to improve digestion.
- Eliminates back and neck pain – When one has a proper posture, the bones and spine can easily and effectively balance the body weight of a person and minimise the risk of having serious back or neck injuries at later stages.
- Improves breathing – To work efficiently, the lungs need room to expand in the chest. When one is slouching, the rib cage collapses a bit, leaving less room for the lungs to open causing inefficient breathing.
- Improves memory and learning - Since a good posture enhances one’s breathing, it also allows one to take in more oxygen and with the increased intake of oxygen, cognition improves, which facilitates better learning.
- Prevention of arthritis and joint pain – Not only does a good posture help in keeping the bones and joints in a correct alignment so that the muscles are used correctly, it also aids in decreasing the abnormal wear and tear of joint surfaces that could cause degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
Yogasanas to improve the body posture:
The first benefit of regular yoga practice is that it brings awareness. And a good posture is all about being aware of your body. These are some of the easiest yoga asanas that will help you achieve a good posture.
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Tadasana is really how we should be standing all the time, so if you can do this pose in correct alignment with ease, your posture is probably already pretty good! Most people, however, find this posture to be challenging, as it requires your whole body to be engaged.
How to do:
Stand with your feet about hip distance apart and parallel to each other, with your toes spread and pointing forward. Engage your calves and quads. Engage your core and slightly tuck your tailbone. Keep your shoulders wide and relaxed. Align your head so your chin is parallel to the floor, and the crown of your head is directly over the centre of your pelvis.
Raise your arms over your head, keeping them shoulder width apart. Be sure to keep your shoulders relaxed and down away from your ears. Hold for one minute.
Vriksasana (Tree Pose)
A slumped-over posture makes balancing poses very difficult, as when we slouch our body weight tends to carry us forward. When we learn to stand tall and balanced in Vriksasana we can carry this feeling into our everyday posture.
How to do:
Stand up straight and shift your balance onto your right foot. Place the sole of your left foot onto your calf or inner thigh, if you can. Once you feel balanced, raise your hands to your chest in namaste. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your head in the same position as in Tadasana. Keep your eyes fixed on a point.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Adho Mukha Svanasana is a great pose for improving your posture, as it stretches and lengthens the spine and opens your shoulders, thus reversing that rounded, hunched-over look.
How to do:
From tabletop position, tuck your toes, straighten your legs and lift your hips toward the ceiling. Adjust your hands forward a bit if necessary and spread your fingers. Keep your spine long, and your head and neck in line with your spine. Hold for one minute.
Sometimes our slouching stems from having a weak core that lacks the strength to hold us upright. Plank pose will strengthen your core, which will take some of the stress off your spine, allowing you to hold yourself up straight with ease.
How to do:
From tabletop pose, tuck your toes under and move your feet backward so that your legs are straight out behind you. Check that your wrists are underneath your shoulders, that your shoulders are away from your ears, and your body is in one straight line. Hold for one minute.
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Bhujangasana and half Bhujangasana gently stretch the spine and open the chest, reversing rounded shoulders and upper back.
How to do:
Lying on your stomach, engage your back muscles in lifting your head and upper torso. Align your elbows underneath your shoulders for support. Open your chest and relax your shoulders away from your ears. Look straight ahead and hold for one minute.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)