6 Yoga Poses for Better Posture

Stand Up Straight!

Students often want to know if yoga can make them taller. While yoga is not going to make you grow, it can noticeably improve your posture, making you look taller, thinner, and more confident. Many postural problems are caused by the hours spent each day hunched over a computer terminal at work or driving a car. These yoga poses can help counteract your tendency to slouch as well as increase your body awareness and your core strength, all of which will go a long way towards improving your posture.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Mountain Pose - Tadasana
Mountain Pose - Tadasana. Ben Goldstein

Though it looks simple enough, when done correctly mountain pose is actually quite complex because it teaches you to sense when your body is in perfect vertical alignment. It takes a lot of practice and correction to be able to do this on your own. At first, you may overcompensate for a tendency to slouch by pushing the shoulders too far back and sticking out your chest. This is not the point of the pose: rather, it is to find a neutral position where you are neither leaning forward nor back and you feel symmetrical on either side of your midline.

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Standing Forward Bend Variation

Interlacing Hands Behind Your Back
Interlacing Hands Behind Your Back. Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

This variation with the hands interlaced behind the back is a great shoulder opener. To get as much openness in the chest as possible, join your hands behind your back and scrunch your shoulders up toward your ears. Then let the shoulder blades slide down your back as you draw your arms straight. 

To stretch your hamstrings, slowly come into a forward bend over your legs while keeping your hands joined. Roll your shoulders toward the middle of your back and extend your arms overhead.

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Cat-Cow Stretch (Chakravakrasana)

Cat-Cow stretch
Cat-Cow Stretch. Ben Goldstein

Cat-cow stretches are excellent for helping you discover the ideal, natural curves of your spine. By moving the spine from flexion (cat) into extension (cow), passing through the middle each time, you learned to judge the neutral position more accurately. Let the movements originate from your tail bone and ripple up your spine so that your head is the last thing to move.

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Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Bridge Pose
Bridge Pose. Ann Pizer

This gentle backbend opens the chest and shoulders, two areas that are often constricted in people with poor posture. It will also strengthen your back, giving your spine more support. Once you have lifted your hips, pause for a moment to tuck each shoulder blade onto your back. Then relax your butt and lift your hips a bit higher. For a less intense version, you can try supported bridge instead.

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Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

Eagle Pose - Garudasana
Eagle Pose - Garudasana. Ben Goldstein

 A strong core supports your spine and balancing postures are a good way to build your abdominal strength. Eagle arms open the back of your heart (between your shoulder blades). It doesn't matter if you can't wrap your top leg all the way around but do make sure that your shoulders are stacked on top of your hips. There's a tendency to lean the torso forward in this pose. Keeping the erect alignment is another way to improve your awareness of your body in space. 

If this pose is super challenging, try the chair version. It's also a good way to get in a stretch at work

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Plank Pose

Plank Pose
Plank Pose. Ben Goldstein

Speaking of core strength, plank is another wonderful way to work on it. It also reveals where your weak areas are. Take care to make sure that your butt is neither sticking up nor drooping down. Try exaggerating each of these to help you find the middle. Engage your belly throughout, drawing your navel gently toward your spine. Work up to holding this pose for a minute or more. 

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