7 Easy Yoga Poses for Better Posture

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The Negative Effects of Poor Posture

Cow Face Pose 1
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Not only is poor posture bad for your spine and upper body, but it can also lead to other health issues, including digestive problems, severe pain, and tension headaches. Plus, studies have shown that good posture can make you feel more confident, increase your productivity at work and even make you less sensitive to the effects of pain. Get rid of those slumped shoulders and hunched over back with these seven yoga poses for better posture. Below, find instructions for the perfect pre- or post-work yoga sequence. The sequence won't take long - about 10 minutes - so make time for it at least once a day. 

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Cow Face Pose

Cow Face Pose
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Working at a desk job often causes you to hunch your shoulders and curve your spine, leading to poor posture and back pain. The cow face pose is the best way to reverse these issues, as it forces you to gently lengthen your spine and pull your shoulder blades close together.

Perfect this pose:

  1. Start by sitting upright on your mat with your legs stretched out long in front of you.
  2. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.
  3. Lift your left leg and place it over your right, lining the knees up on top of each other.
  4. Move your right foot as close to the left hip as possible and your left foot as close to the right hip as possible.
  5. Bring your left arm straight upwards over your head with your palm facing forward.
  6. Bend your left elbow and reach your left hand down behind your neck to touch your spine.
  7. Now, bring your right arm up straight out to the right side with the palm facing downwards.
  8. Rotate your arm so the palm faces downward, and bend your elbow, bringing your right arm behind your back, reaching your right hand up toward your left hand.
  9. Depending on your flexibility, you might be able to hook the fingers of both hands together behind you.
  10. Throughout the pose, keep your shoulders back and keep your lower ribs tucked under.
  11. Stay in this pose for 5 deep breaths before releasing and repeating on the other side.

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Cobra Pose

Cobra Pose
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Yogis of all levels can do the cobra pose. This posture works well to gently stretch the shoulders and spine to open the chest, so incorporate this into your daily routine after a long day sitting at a desk job, or sitting upright in a lengthy commute.

Perfect this pose:

  1. Lie with your stomach flat on the floor, with your legs stretched straight behind you. Keep your toes and tops of your feet pressed into the mat.
  2. Firmly press your hands into the mat slightly in front of your shoulders, with your fingers pointed forward.
  3. Using the energy from your firmly pressed palms, lift your torso off the mat until your arms are straight. Be sure to keep your elbows close to your ribs as you press yourself upward.
  4. Feet, shins and thighs should remain firmly pressed to the ground.
  5. Open your chest by drawing your shoulder blades together and consciously drawing your shoulders down away from your ears.
  6. For a deeper stretch, slightly move your chin upward and look toward the ceiling.
  7. Take three to five deep breaths before releasing the pose and lying flat, belly-down on the mat. Repeat three to five times.

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Camel Pose

Camel Pose
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As you incorporate the camel pose into your daily routine, your spine begins to stretch and realign into proper posture. If you have especially tight shoulders, don’t push your body too far into this pose as you reach your hands to your feet. Start off with what feels comfortable, supporting the backward lean by placing your palms, fingers down, on your low back. Over time, you’ll be able to fully stretch into this position.

Perfect this pose:

  1. Begin in tabletop position - palms under shoulders, knees under hips - and lift your torso straight up off of the floor so your knees and shins support your full weight.
  2. Place both hands on your lower back with fingertips pointing downward.
  3. Take a deep breath and pull your torso up to lengthen your spine and open your chest, drawing your shoulder blades together.
  4. Exhale and push your hips slightly forward while maintaining your balance. Look up and begin bending your spine backward.
  5. As your back begins to bend, carefully move one hand at a time down to each foot.
  6. Grab each heel and continue to gently press your hips forward, creating a deeper back bend.
  7. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute before carefully releasing from this pose.

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Forward Fold Pose

Forward Fold Pose
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This pose allows you to use your body weight to gently lengthen your spine. Once you’ve moved fully into the fold position, you can reach your hands to the floor or grab opposite elbows and hang loosely, allowing your body to completely stretch out and relax.

Perfect this pose:

  1. Start in a relaxed standing position with feet hip-width apart and arms at your side.
  2. Slowly raise your arms above you, reaching toward the ceiling with an upward gaze.
  3. Throughout this pose, pull your shoulder blades close together and make a conscious effort to draw your shoulders away from your ears.
  4. Slowly lean your torso forward, allowing it to hang as close to your thighs as you can, reaching your arms toward the floor. Imagine you're falling forward in a graceful swan dive.
  5. Where you place your hands depends on your comfort level. Either wrap your hands around each leg and use your biceps to pull your torso closer to your thighs, use them to grasp opposite elbows and hang loosely or place them on the mat below you.
  6. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds before releasing.

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Downward Facing Dog Pose

Downward Facing Dog Pose
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Another great shoulder opener, this pose stretches the muscles along your spine while also forcing your shoulders to work against the hunched over look created by your desk job. Another bonus? It’s also great for strengthening the thighs and stretching tight hamstrings!

Perfect your pose:

  1. Start on your hands and knees. Spread your palms and fingers evenly onto the mat, with your index fingers parallel. Turn your toes under to prepare for the next movements.
  2. Tighten your core, press your body’s weight firmly into your palms and lift your knees away from the mat, keeping knees slightly bent and heels lifted. Be sure that your weight is evenly dispersed over both hands.
  3. Lift your tailbone towards the ceiling, elongating your arms and legs until fully straight, but without "locking out" your knees.
  4. Keep your fingers pressed firmly into the floor. Try to draw your shoulder blades together to open and stretch your chest.
  5. During the pose, avoid letting your head hang freely. Keep it active, positioned between your arms in line with your spine.
  6. Hold this pose for 30 seconds before releasing.

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Low Lunge Variation Pose

Low Lunge Variation Pose
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This pose gives yogis a healthy dose of a backbend while also stretching tight hamstrings and hip flexors. For a more intense stretch, more advanced yogis can attempt to lift their back knee off the ground, keeping the leg straight and the toes pressed firmly down.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Start in a standing position and step your left foot forward by about three to four feet, stretching your back leg straight with your toes pressed against the mat.
  2. Bring your hands to your lower back with your fingers pointing upwards with a bend in each elbow.
  3. Adjust your left foot so your toes are facing forward.
  4. Square your hips toward the front of the mat.
  5. Exhale and bend your left knee to a 90-degree angle.
  6. Lift your rib cage and elongate your torso. Keep your head gazing forward and relax the muscles in your face.
  7. Push into your hands, pressing your hips forward to create a slight backbend. Allow your gaze to travel upward toward the ceiling if you can keep balanced. If not, keep your gaze forward to remain in the pose.
  8. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute before repeating on the other side.

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Tree Pose

Tree Pose
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Why tree pose? With poor posture, your body becomes used to shifting weight more to one side than the other, so balance poses like this can be difficult, but rewarding once mastered. Once you’ve found your balance, you’ll be able to realign your posture in day-to-day life.

Perfect your pose:

  1. Stand upright with hands by your sides and begin shifting your weight onto your right foot.
  2. Find your balance before you move farther into the pose. This pose requires a steady foundation.
  3. Once you've found balance, begin drawing your left foot up your right leg until it's firmly planted against your inner thigh, toes pointed down, hip open, knee rotated outward.
  4. Firmly press your left foot into your right thigh to maintain balance. Avoid letting your foot slide down your leg into a more comfortable position.
  5. Slowly bring your hands together into a prayer position in front of you.
  6. Once you've found balance, slowly and carefully raise your hands above your head, still pressed together in prayer.
  7. Stay for five deep inhales, then repeat on the other side.

Sources

Ohio State University. "Body Posture Affects Confidence In Your Own Thoughts, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2009. 

Inderscience. "Ergonomic Boost: Improving Workers' Posture And Working Conditions In Manufacturing Plant Can Increase Productivity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 October 2008. 

University of Southern California. "Your mother was right: Good posture makes you tougher." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 July 2011. 

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