- Practice These 10 Yoga Poses to Correct Bad Posture
- Practice These 10 Yoga Poses to Correct Bad Posture:
- Yoga Is a Great Way to Help Reverse Bad Posture
- Posture Poses – The 5 best yoga poses to improve your posture.
- Posture pose number one – Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
- Posture pose number two – Cat/Cow
- Posture pose number three – Tree pose
- Posture pose number four – Uttanasana (Standing forward bend)
- Posture pose number five – Plank pose
- Your mom was right: You’ll look better and feel great if you stop slouching and stand up straight. Yoga can help you do just that — in a way that honors your spine’s natural curves. Here’s a guide to assess and improve your posture.
- Better Posture Principles: Try this 3-Part Strategy
- Do You Slump or Sway? Take the Assessment
- Better Posture Poses for Yogis with Desk Jobs
- Daily Yoga Practice for Better Posture: Virasana
- Furniture for Better Posture
- Best Sleeping Positions for Proper Posture
- Seal the Yoga Practice for Better Posture, and Repeat
- 9 Easy Yoga Poses to Reverse Bad Posture
- Cobra | 5 breaths
- Bound Locust Pose | 8 breaths
- Shoulder Pigeon | 8 breaths per side
- Cow Face Arms | 8 breaths per side
- Bridge Pose | 8 breaths
- Runner’s Lunge | 8 breaths per side
- Downward Facing Dog | 8 breaths
- Supine Twist | 8 breaths per side
- Supported Fish Pose | Hold 2-5 minutes
- 5 Yoga Poses to Improve Your Posture
- 1. Reclining Spinal Twist (Supta Jathara Parivartanasana)
- 2. Supported Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
- 3. Mountain Pose (Tadasana or Samasthiti)
- 4. Seated Side Stretch (Parsva Sukhasana)
- 5. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
- Practice These 7 Yoga Poses to Help Relieve Neck Pain
- What Exactly Is Causing Your Neck Pain?
- Combat Tech Neck – Here’s How!
- Yoga Poses to Relieve Neck Pain
- Neck Pain Be Gone! These Yoga Poses Will Help
- 13 Gentle Yoga Stretches for Neck Pain Relief
- Yoga Stretches for Neck Pain
- Child’s Pose with Elbows on Block | 5 breaths
- Child’s Pose Thread the Needle Twist | 3 breaths per side
- Supine Lying Chin Tuck with Towel | 3 breaths
- Sphinx Pose Chin Tuck | 5 breaths
- Supported Plow | 3 breaths
- Angry Cat Stretch | 6-8 breaths
- Standing Forward Fold with Hands Behind Head | 3-5 breaths
- Seated Neck Tilt | 3 breaths per side
- Seated Chin Lift | 3 breaths
- Rabbit Pose | 3-5 breaths
- Seated Eagle Arms | 5 breaths
- Block Supported Savasana | 6 Breaths
- Assessing and Correcting Posture
- The Purpose of Posture
- Posture and Energy Flow
- A Quick Postural Checkpoint
- Overview of Correcting Posture
- Alignment of the Joints
- Getting Clarity on “Natural Curves”
- Common Postural Problems
- “Hey, This Feels Really Strange!”
- Beyond Tadasana
- 3 Ways to Improve Forward Head Posture
- 1. Start each morning with chin tucks and chest stretches
- 2. Set up your workspace ergonomically
- 3. Sleep on a cervical pillow
- Learn more:
- Yoga for Forward Head Posture
- Fixing Forward Head Posture
- Making it easier to hold good posture
- Rhythmic movements for Learning Good Posture
- Why starting with the pelvis and lumbar spine is a good thing
- An exercise for feeling movements of your pelvis and lumbar spine
- Adding your chest (ribcage) and thoracic spine
- Pulling your head back and up
- Synchronize Movements for Greater Effortlessness
- Breathing for good posture
- Belly Breathing for Beginners
- Learning to feel your respiratory diaphragm
- Slightly more advanced diaphragmatic breathing
- Adjusting your breathing
- Finding good posture while standing
- Proprioception made easy
Practice These 10 Yoga Poses to Correct Bad Posture
They say that sitting is the new smoking because of all the negative impacts of a sedentary lifestyle.
Sitting at a desk or computer all day takes a toll on more than just your eyes. It affects your posture, metabolism, risk of anxiety or depression and can lead to obesity, just to name a few . . .
Bad posture can lead to serious issues like back pain, cardiovascular issues, digestion issues, and eventually changing of the curve of the spine itself, which will create a whole new level of back pain.
And those are only the physical effects of sitting! Studies have shown that slouching can change the way that others see you, is influenced by your mood such as depression, and can make you look heavier since your organs have nowhere to go but down.
Yoga is a fantastic way to combat the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day and other things that contribute to bad posture. Heart openers are the category of yoga poses that invert the hunched back and shoulders which is often a result from sitting too much.
So, in addition to straightening your posture, these chest opening poses will also help you open up emotionally, heal old wounds, be perceived in a better light, and embrace the world of abundance. Who doesn’t want that?!
Practice These 10 Yoga Poses to Correct Bad Posture:
You can practice these poses all together, or you can pick and choose what feels best in your body and what helps you most in correcting your posture. Practice these poses regularly, or any time you need a good stretch after sitting.
1. Heart Bench
Also referred to as Supported Fish Pose in Yin Yoga, this pose feels amazing – especially before bed, or after a long car ride. Relaxing and invigorating at the same time, once you are able to let go and sink into this supported posture, you won’t want to get out of it.
How to practice Heart Bench:
- 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
- Laying 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
Did you love this pose?! Then you will LOVE this 17-Minute Restorative Yoga Sequence with yoga blocks!
2. Cow Face Arms
Cow Face Pose, or Gomukhasana, can be done any time, even while at your desk! It’s a fantastic stretch you can every day at the office or even when you’re sitting on the couch.
How to practice 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
Want to explore more ways to incorporate a yoga strap in your practice? Check out 4 Ways to Deepen Your Practice With a Yoga Strap
3. Plank Pose
While Plank Pose is not a heart opener, it’s a core strength builder and core strength is a big part of good posture! This pose will keep you standing tall.
How to practice Plank Pose:
- 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
4. Camel Pose
This deep back bend with undo all the hunching that happens when you sit at a computer or desk all day. Camel Pose, or Ustrasana, opens your heart, throat and shoulders.
How to practice Camel Pose:
There are many variations for camel, so we will focus on the two most common variations. Both variations begin with the practitioner on their knees, toes tucked under, lengthening up through the crown.
- 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
5. Cobra Pose
Cobra Pose, or Bhujangasana, strengthens the arms while opening the upper back and shoulders.
How to practice Cobra Pose:
- Laying 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
Curious about Child’s Pose? Here’s everything you need to know
6. Wide Leg Forward Fold
For this variation of Wide Leg Forward Fold, or Pasarita Pattondandasana, you’ll interlace your fingers behind your back to open the shoulders and chest. Any variation of Wide Leg Forward Fold is a great way to lengthen the entire spinal column.
How to practice 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
7. Downward Facing Dog
Down Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, is one of the first poses we learn in yoga, and it’s a powerhouse pose. Not only does Down Dog strengthen the arms, shoulders, and core; it also opens the hamstrings, back, chest, and shoulders.
How to practice Downward Dog:
- From Plank Pose, press the hips up and back, and press your chest towards your chest
- Heels are hip-width distance apart and reaching down towards the mat (it doesn’t matter how close they get)
- Fingers are spread wide with weight evenly distributed through the hands
- Relax your head and neck, shoulders away from the ears, and send your gaze towards your toes
- Stay here for five breaths up to one full minute
Want a Down Dog tutorial? Check out How to Practice Down Dog Correctly
8. Bridge Pose
Bridge Pose, or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, strengthens the lower body while it opens the spine and neck. Bridge Pose is a great backbend for all levels because you can choose how deeply to go based how you’re feeling that day.
How to practice Bridge Pose:
- Laying on your back, palms face down at your sides, bring the soles of your feet to the mat with your knees up
- The feet should be close to the fingers and hips-width distance apart
- On an inhale, lift the hips to the sky while pressing down through the soles of the feet and the hands
- Stay here for three breaths
- Releasing on an exhale, lower down one vertebrae at a time
- For the second round, begin the same as the first. Inhaling the hips to the sky
- This time, option to clasp the hands behind your back and roll the shoulders underneath to get into a deeper backbend
- Breathe here for another three breaths before releasing on the exhale, one vertebrae at a time
- For the third round, repeat either of the first two options
- After three rounds, windshield wiper your knees back and forth to release any tension still in the spine
Check out this Beginner Backbends video for a full practice that helps open your heart and chest!
9. Bow Pose
Bow Pose, or Dhanurasana, is a very intense heart opener. When practiced properly, it feels amazing on your back and chest. Be sure that your body is warmed up for this.
How to practice Bow Pose:
- Laying on your belly, bring your palms face down by your sides with the forehead or chin resting gently on the mat
- Bend the knees, drawing the feet towards your seat
- Reach back to grab the ankles, and make sure the knees don’t go wider than hips-width distance apart
- On an inhale, kick your ankles into your hands, roll your shoulders away from the ears, and lift chest and thighs simultaneously off the mat
- Breathe here for several breath
- When you release back down to the earth, relax for a breath or two before going into a second or third round
- When complete, press back into a wide legged Child’s Pose to release the spine
10. Supported Legs Up the Wall
Legs Up the Wall Pose, or Viparita Karani, is fantastic for stress, resets the spine, helps the heart effectively distribute blood throughout the body, and reduces any inflammation in the legs.
How to practice Legs Up the Wall:
- Sit with your side close against the wall
- Leaning back onto your hands, slide the back of your legs up the wall and recline onto your back with your feet facing the ceiling
- Make any small movements necessary to inch your seat closer to the wall, removing any space between
- From here, the hands can either rest on your belly or spread out to a “T” with palms facing up
- Close the eyes and relax
- Stay here for three to five minutes – enjoy!
Yoga Is a Great Way to Help Reverse Bad Posture
By strengthening and stretching the shoulders, chest, back, and abdominals (the areas affected by sitting all day), these yoga poses will help you stand taller, live with an open heart, and help to relieve any discomfort that comes with bad posture from sitting.
How do you feel after you’ve tried these poses for yourself? What’s your favorite feel-good stretch after a long day in the office? Let us know in the comments below!
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Posture Poses – The 5 best yoga poses to improve your posture.
Not to sound too much like your mother…but good posture is so, so important! And a lot of us (myself included) spend too much time on autopilot – which usually involves slouching, hunching, and generally not being too kind to our spines. Good posture helps us feel confident, look taller and slimmer, and is way better for our bodies in the long run. Luckily, yoga’s an amazing tool to help you improve your posture, and we’ve compiled our top 5 poses to help.
Posture pose number one – Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
‘But – that’s just standing!’ I hear you say. But honestly, when you’re paying attention, it’s so much more than that. To come into Mountain pose, feet can come either together or out at hip-width distance. Soften the knees slightly and ground down through all four corners of the feet, maybe lifting and spreading the toes. Keeping your hips neutral and tuck the tailbone slightly under. Draw shoulders back and down, stack head over heart, heart over pelvis, and reach the crown of your head towards the sky. So…standing, basically. But with intention. Which is what we forget about when we’re jammed on the Dart at rush hour!
Posture pose number two – Cat/Cow
If we want to understand what a straight, neutral spine feels like, it’s important that we play with spinal flexion and extension too, both of which Cat/Cow provides. Come to your hands and knees, with your wrists under shoulders, and knees under hips. Draw your belly in and feel your spine lengthen from the crown of the head to the tip of the tailbone, one big beautiful line of energy. This is Tabletop. From Tabletop, inhale and drop the belly, arch the spine, lift chin and chest and gaze up, and on your exhale, round your back towards the ceiling, letting the head gently release. Repeat a few times, then return to neutral Tabletop, noticing the difference.
Posture pose number three – Tree pose
One of the biggest reasons – I believe – for our lack of perfect posture, is that we don’t really pay attention to it. That’s why Tree pose is so great – it forces us to pay attention to our posture and how we’re holding ourselves, because if we don’t, we’ll fall. From Mountain pose, ground your weight into your left foot and bring your right foot to either your left ankle, shin, or inner thigh – anywhere on that leg just not on the knee. Stand tall, bringing hands to heart centre or reaching them up overhead. Draw everything into the midline here. Draw your shoulders down and beck, and reach up through the crown of the head just as much as you’re rooting down through that standing foot.
Posture pose number four – Uttanasana (Standing forward bend)
Uttanasana helps you lengthen the spine, which in turn helps to improve your posture. Feet can be together or hip distance apart, soften the knees and let yourself fold over, lengthening the spine and completely relaxing the neck, drawing your chest towards your thighs. Keep a deep bend in the knees here, especially if hamstrings are tight. You can hold on to opposite elbows and sway here for a few breaths.
Posture pose number five – Plank pose
I know, I know – everybody’s favourite 😉 this burner isn’t only great for building strength, but also in creating length along the entire back body. Keep your wrists under your shoulders, torso parallel to the floor, reaching back through the heels. The whole body is in one straight line here, legs and butt working, belly drawing in towards the spine, collarbones open. Keep your neck long and breathe here, focusing on creating length, with one long line of energy flowing from the crown of the head all the way back to the feet.
Your mom was right: You’ll look better and feel great if you stop slouching and stand up straight. Yoga can help you do just that — in a way that honors your spine’s natural curves. Here’s a guide to assess and improve your posture.
Are you a slumper? A swayer? Chances are you’re one or the other to some degree—despite Mom’s best efforts all those years ago to get you to sit up straight and stop slouching. She probably told you that you’d look and feel better if you worked on your posture, and she was absolutely right. But if you’re like most people, you rolled your eyes and ignored her, or straightened up until she wasn’t looking. And you probably didn’t give posture much more thought at all until you walked into your first yoga class and tried to stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
When you’re a beginner, it’s surprisingly complicated to master the art of rooting down through the feet while lengthening up through the spine, keeping your chest open without jutting your lower ribs out, and keeping the legs muscles strong and lifted without tensing the belly or jaw. But ultimately, Tadasana demands just one simple thing: that you stand in a way that supports the natural curves of a healthy spine. So why is it so difficult? And why do we work so hard to master good posture in yoga—leaving class feeling taller and healthier—only to slump down in the car seat on the way home or revert to a swayback when we heft our overstuffed yoga bags onto our backs?
In short, modern life conspires against good posture. We spend our days sitting at desks, staring at computer screens. When we travel, we do it in cars or—worse—airplanes. We lounge around in overstuffed chairs designed more for looks than for lumbar support. And we pay people to mow our lawns, tend our gardens, and remove our trash so we can spend more time working or driving or sitting. Non-sedentary cultures—with a few exceptions—don’t have the same epidemic of back and neck problems that we do. Picture a woman gracefully balancing a large basket of food on her head. To carry such a heavy weight, she must have a perfectly aligned spine and strong posture-support muscles. You don’t get that kind of alignment and strength from sitting around and watching the tube. You can, however, get it from a regular yoga practice.
See also Stop Slouching! Improve Posture with Bow Pose
Better Posture Principles: Try this 3-Part Strategy
To create great alignment for your body, I recommend a three-part strategy. First, build awareness by assessing your posture and your lifestyle. Next, create a yoga prescription for your specific postural problem by incorporating a few simple poses into your regular practice. Finally, take your newly developed awareness of your alignment issues and apply it throughout your daily life.
Before tackling the how-tos, however, it’s important to understand the anatomy of proper posture. Whether you’re sitting or standing, your spine has natural curves that should be maintained. They are a mild forward curve (like a gentle backbend) in the neck and lower back, and a mild backward curve in the upper back and midback. As you practice yoga, you learn to maintain these optimal curves in many standing poses, in most sitting poses, and in inversions like Sirsasana (Headstand) and Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand).
If any of these curves are habitually flattened or overly curved, abnormal posture can get locked into the body. A wide variety of abnormal curves can occur, including a flat neck and a flat lower back, but we’ll focus on the two most common problems: a hunched upper back (known as excessive kyphosis), which is usually linked with a jutting forward of the head (known as forward head) and, at the other end of the spectrum, an extreme sway in the lower back (known as excessive lordosis). These extreme curves contribute to many of the painful problems—muscle strain, joint pain, and disk problems, to name a few—that physical therapists and other health care practitioners treat every day.
Maintaining just the right curves is only part of the equation, however; to function efficiently, your skeletal structure also needs to be aligned vertically. That means when you’re standing, your ears should be over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, and your hips over your knees and ankles. When any body part falls out of that vertical line, the adjacent support muscles will feel the strain. For example, years of having a forward head will cause the muscles of the upper back and neck to become tired and achy from holding up the weight of the head against the pull of gravity.
So, while you needn’t nag yourself about slouching, you may discover that the simple act of straightening up can change your life. If you train your body to maintain the normal spinal curves and keep your posture vertical and spacious when you’re standing or sitting upright, you’re likely to feel better all over. And that’s something to write home about.
See also Kathryn Budig’s Perfect-Posture Secret: Anti-Slouch Yoga Strap Trick
Do You Slump or Sway? Take the Assessment
The first step toward changing a bad habit is to recognize that you have a problem, right? So, let’s start your posture-improvement program by building awareness of your postural pitfalls. You can assess your spinal curves by standing against a doorjamb. When you stand with your heels very near the jamb, you should have contact at your sacrum (the upside-down triangular-shape bone a few inches above your tailbone), the middle and upper back (thoracic spine), and the back of your head. With normal spinal curves, your lower back (lumbar spine) and neck (cervical spine) won’t touch—there should be about an inch of space between the doorjamb and the vertebrae of your lower back. But if you can slide your whole hand into the space, you have a swayback, or excessive lordosis.
Standing at the doorjamb also provides valuable feedback about kyphosis and forward head. If you notice that your chin lifts up when you place the back of your head against the jamb, you probably have excessive kyphosis in your thoracic spine. The combination of excessive kyphosis and forward head is common, and it puts significant strain on your neck muscles and intervertebral disks.
It’s also worth noting that you could have a combination of postural problems, such as an increased kyphosis with an excessive lordosis. In that case, it’s usually best to focus on creating proper alignment in the pelvis and lower back first, and then work your way up the spine.
After your assessment, take a close look at the furniture you use every day at work, home, school—anyplace you spend a significant amount of time. Supportive beds and chairs and a carefully set-up desk and computer workstation will facilitate good alignment. On the other hand, a saggy bed, poorly designed chair, and keyboard at the wrong height will set the stage for degenerating posture. Make the best furniture choices you can to support your journey to better spinal health.
Better Posture Poses for Yogis with Desk Jobs
While sitting is not the root of all evil, it does contribute to both kyphosis and lordosis. Most people unwittingly tip their head forward and down while working—to see the papers on their desk or read what’s on their computer screen. Often the arms also pull forward to reach the keyboard. It’s easy to see how this contributes to a sagging, droopy posture.
When you hunch forward at your desk, the chest collapses and compresses the heart, lungs, and diaphragm. Hunching also strains the back muscles, causing them to overstretch and become weak. If you’re collapsed in a kyphosis, the key to breaking the habit is to stretch the muscles of the chest, increase the flexibility of the thoracic spine and ribs, and strengthen and shorten the muscles of the back. Supported backbends stretch the pectoralis major, so they’re an excellent way to open the chest. They also increase the mobility in the stiffest part of the spine—the thoracic.
To strengthen and shorten the muscles that support the midback, practice Salabhasana (Locust Pose) and Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose). Both are effective strengtheners for the long muscles that run parallel to the spine along with the muscles that help support and position the shoulder blades (the trapezius and rhomboids in particular). In a slumped posture, the shoulder blades usually fall forward toward the chest and hunch up toward the ears. Both Bhujangasana and Salabhasana train the midback to hold the shoulder blades in their normal position, which is down away from the ears and flat against the back ribs.
See alsoFix the Slouch: 4 Poses for Upper Crossed Syndrome
Sitting all day can also contribute to serious misalignments in the lower back and pelvis. Prolonged sitting shortens the hip flexors—the muscles (including the iliopsoas, rectus femoris, and tensor fascia lata, to name just a few) that cross the front of the hip. If you sit for many hours every day without stretching your hip flexors regularly, they will gradually lose their normal length, causing the pelvis to tilt forward (known as an anterior tilt of the pelvis) when you’re standing. A strong anterior tilt usually causes an excessive lordosis or swayback, which contributes to chronic tightness and pain in the lower back muscles. It can also cause lower back pain by compressing the facet joints, the small joints along each side of the spine where the vertebrae overlap one another. The facet joints weren’t designed to bear much weight, and compression can wear away the cartilage lining the joints, causing arthritis. Unfortunately, you may not know that your cartilage is wearing away until, after many years of sitting, standing, and walking with excessive lordosis, you find yourself living with a chronically painful arthritic lower back.
See alsoFix the Slump: 4 Poses for Lower Crossed Syndrome
If you fall into the swayback category, focus on lengthening and stretching those tight hip flexors in your yoga practice. Add lunges and Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I) to your daily practice or, at the very least, do them two or three times per week. You can, of course, include this stretching as part of Sun Salutation, but it’s optimal to hold the hip flexors in a stretched position for one to two minutes. Try adding a good long hip flexor stretch later in your practice, when the muscles are warm, and focus on breathing, relaxing, and lengthening the muscles that cross the front of the hip.
Also, practice a posterior tilt by lifting the front pelvis up off the front thigh and drawing your tailbone down toward the floor in lunges or Virabhadrasana I. This action will create space and release compression in the facet joints in your lower back.
In addition to practicing these actions, you can reduce the anterior tilt of the pelvis, support your internal organs, and help reduce the risk of lower back injuries by strengthening the abdominals. Exercises like curl-ups and crunches emphasize the upper abdominals. But if the upper abdominals become overly strong and tight, they can restrict breathing and actually pull down on the rib cage, contributing to an increased kyphosis and flattening the normal curve of the lower back. Instead, practice postures like Navasana (Boat Pose) and Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Leg Lifts) to strengthen the lower abdominals, which are most important in supporting the lower back and pelvis.
See alsoThe Yoga of Smartphones: How to Avoid “Tech Neck”
Daily Yoga Practice for Better Posture: Virasana
Whether your problem area is the upper back, lower back, or both, I recommend that you sit for a few minutes once or twice a day in Virasana (Hero Pose). It is a wonderful position to reinforce good posture habits, because it teaches proper alignment in all the spine’s curves. After a brief daily Virasana practice, you can more easily integrate your alignment awareness when you sit during the day. Just remember to apply the same cues you learn in Virasana when you sit on your couch or at your desk.
After you get settled in Virasana, place one hand on your lower back. Now tuck your tailbone under—you’ll actually be sitting on it. As you do this, feel how you slump over and your lumbar spine flattens. Now move in the opposite direction by rolling your pubic bone toward the floor. Your pelvis will tip forward and you’ll have excessive lumbar lordosis, which you can also feel with your hand. Now move back and forth between those two extremes until you find the point balanced in between, where you can sit directly on your sitting bones and feel a healthy alignment for your pelvis and lower back.
Next, bring your awareness to your upper back. To reduce kyphosis, imagine lifting your breastbone up away from your heart and lungs as you engage your back muscles to lengthen your spine upward. As you lift up, don’t increase the curve of the lower back or let your lower front ribs jut forward. Let the shoulder blades fall away from the ears, and spread your collarbones broadly without pinching the shoulder blades toward the back spine.
Moving farther up the spine, make sure you don’t have a forward head. I don’t recommend that people with a forward head put a finger on their chin and push their head back, because doing so can create an overly flattened, uncomfortable neck. Usually, just reducing the kyphosis will bring the head closer to its normal alignment, with the ears over the shoulders. You can also try putting the flat parts of your fingers across the back of your neck and dropping your chin. Feel how the curve of your neck flattens and the tissues become hard. If you lift your chin and look up at the ceiling, you’ll feel the back of your neck curving excessively and compressing. Now come back to the middle position, where your chin and gaze are level—you should feel a soft curve, slightly toward a backbend.
To reinforce good alignment while standing, come back to the doorjamb-assessment position. You can use this position several times a day—without putting on yoga clothes or getting out your mat—so you learn by feel how to stay vertical and maintain the normal curves while standing.
Lengthen your spine up the doorjamb by reaching the crown of the head toward the ceiling while your shoulders melt down away from your ears. If you tend to have excessive lordosis, you may find it’s much easier to reduce the lumbar curve by bending your knees. If that’s the case, your hip flexors are probably tight and your abdominal muscles are weak. To work on strengthening the abdominals, stand at the doorjamb, bend the knees slightly, and draw your tailbone toward the floor and your back waist toward the door-jamb.
Don’t contract the abdominals so hard that you collapse in the chest or can’t breathe—remember that the goal is to have a mild (not excessive or completely flat) curve in your lower back, combined with an open chest and a chin that’s level to the ground. (If your chin and gaze tend to go up when you take your head to the doorjamb, your kyphosis is probably still causing a forward head. It will take time to reduce the kyphosis; in the meantime, don’t force your head to the doorjamb. Keep working to lift your breastbone, without overarching your lower back, and stay in the position in which you can keep your chin and gaze level.) Finally, step away from the doorjamb, training your body to remember the feeling and your mind to remember the cues to good vertical posture. When this happens, you’ll be standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
Furniture for Better Posture
With a critical eye, take a look at the furniture you use most often or might buy in the near future. No matter how fashionable it is, don’t bring home a couch with a long seat, which will cause you to slump backward as you search for support. If you already have one, keep plenty of cushions on hand to fill in the space between the back of your hips and the back of the couch. That’s true for any type of seat; when the backs of your calves hit the front edge of the seat and there is a gap behind you, fill in the gap so your back is supported and upright.
If possible, try a kneeling chair, which comes closest to Virasana off the floor. With a regular chair, if you’re short in stature, use a stool for your feet so they don’t dangle in midair and contribute to strain in the lower back. If you’re tall and your knees are higher than your hips when you put your feet on the floor, you could easily fall into a backward slump. Solve this problem by raising the chair seat—if it’s as high as it will go, sit on a cushion. In a pinch, you can sit toward the front edge of the seat and pull your feet back so the knees are lower than the hips. This shape is similar to that of Virasana.
When you work on the computer, make sure the screen is at a height at which you can look straight ahead or just slightly down at it. Learn to touch type so you don’t have to look down at the keyboard, and get a book holder or inclined desk to bring reading materials closer to eye level. Set up your keyboard—you might need a keyboard tray—so your forearms are parallel to the floor.
Best Sleeping Positions for Proper Posture
The best sleep positions for most people are on their back or side; sleeping on the stomach is the biggest no-no. (If you have excessive lordosis, sleeping on your stomach will exaggerate it, especially on a bed that’s too saggy or soft.) If you sleep on your back, don’t increase the forward head habit by piling pillows under your head. It’s better to use one down pillow, which conforms to the shape of your head and neck, or a foam pillow formed with neck support and an indentation for the back of your head. If you’re lying on your side, be careful not to pull your head forward.
Seal the Yoga Practice for Better Posture, and Repeat
Once you’ve done your physical assessment, looked at your furniture, and added poses to your arsenal, there’s just one very important thing left to do—practice, practice, practice. With frequent repetition, old habits and patterns can be replaced with new and healthy ways of moving, standing, and sitting. But it’s important to remember that change takes time. I tell my students and clients to expect to work for a year before new posture and movement habits become automatic. Muscles don’t lengthen or strengthen overnight. As you stretch out the tight areas and strengthen the weak ones, your body will gradually find its way to a more balanced alignment.
It’s also important to notice how you feel when your posture is good. Does your body feel at ease? How’s your mood? Your energy level? Likewise, notice how you feel when your posture is bad. Are you feeling down or rushed or tired? When do your bad habits creep up on you?
The goal here isn’t to achieve perfection; it’s simply to find the healthiest alignment—one that makes you feel simultaneously strong and at ease—given your body structure. This will take time, patience, and perseverance.
Take comfort in knowing that yoga trains your mind as well as your body. As you continue to devote yourself to your practice, you will become more present in your body and more aware of your alignment, and you will begin to naturally make choices that will improve your health and your quality of life. Over time, the combination of increased awareness and physical training will allow your improved alignment to spill out into other areas of your life. Before you know it, you’ll feel at ease as you practice good yoga alignment while you’re perched at your desk, standing at the copier, and sitting at dinner. You’ll be doing yoga during all of your waking hours. And who knows? You might just impress your mom!
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9 Easy Yoga Poses to Reverse Bad Posture
Roll out your yoga mat! These poses will help you strengthen the muscles that cause you to slouch, making good posture effortless.
Think about it: From the time we are in kindergarten to the time we get desk jobs, many of us are sitting for most of the day.
When this happens, it’s almost impossible to keep proper posture and avoid slouching. Over time, poor posture causes some muscles to become overly tight while opposing muscles become weak.
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Muscles that become tight:
- Hip flexors
- Lower back
- Muscles of the front of the neck: sternocleidomastoid and scalene
Muscles that weaken:
- Latissimus dorsi
- Muscles in the back of the neck: trapezius
You can reverse the damaging effects of poor posture with these nine simple yoga poses. They work to release different muscle groups while simultaneously strengthening other muscles.
To do this stretching routine, you’ll need a yoga mat, a yoga strap (or towel), and two yoga blocks. You can do this sequence up to three times per week, allowing for at least one day of rest between each set.
Cobra | 5 breaths
One of the most common signs of poor posture is rounded shoulders, stemming from a tight and shortened chest and a forward head. This pose brings the shoulders and the neck back into alignment while also strengthening the entire back.
- Lie face down on your mat with your toes untucked. Place your forehead on the mat and keep your neck long.
- Bend your elbows and place your palms on the mat next to your ribs.
- Press the tops of your feet into your mat. Inhale to lift your forehead, chest, palms and kneecaps off the mat.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 5 slow breaths, then release on an exhale.
Bound Locust Pose | 8 breaths
This pose draws the shoulders back into alignment and strengthens the entire back, the glutes, and the hamstrings.
- Start by lying on your belly with your forehead on your mat and your toes untucked.
- Interlace your fingers behind your lower back and pull your legs together.
- Keep your neck long as you inhale to lift your chest, feet, and legs off of the ground.
- If you can, lift your hands up off your lower back. Hold for 8 breaths, then exhale to release slowly.
Shoulder Pigeon | 8 breaths per side
This pose relieves tightness in the chest, shoulders, and hips.
- Lie down on your belly with your legs straight back behind you.
- Bring both arms straight out to your side, palms down, so that your wrists are in line with your shoulders. Rest your right cheek on the mat.
- Press into your left palm and roll onto your right shoulder. Bend your left knee and set your left foot down on the floor behind your right leg. The knee should point up and you should feel the hip and chest opening.
- Hold for 8 breaths and then roll back to your belly.
- Repeat on the other side
Cow Face Arms | 8 breaths per side
This pose uses a yoga strap to help to open up tight shoulders, triceps, and lats.
- Begin in a comfortable seat on a chair or on a yoga block. Hold the end of a yoga strap or towel in your right hand.
- Reach your right arm straight up. Bend the elbow and reach your right hand down towards your upper back.
- Reach your left arm straight down. Then bend the elbow and reach your left hand up your lower back, grabbing the other end of the strap.
- Walk your hands towards one another and see if you can get your hands to touch. Hold for 8 breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
Bridge Pose | 8 breaths
Sitting puts quadriceps and hip flexors into a shortened state, often leading to tight and weak hamstrings and lower back. This pose helps to lengthen tight hip flexors and quadriceps while also strengthening the lower back and hamstrings.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground at hip-width distance. Walk your feet as close to your body as you can.
- Place your arms down alongside your body with your palms face down. They should be nearly touching your feet.
- Exhale as you press your palms into the ground to lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
- Hold for 8 slow breaths in and out of the nose, then slowly roll back down to your back one vertebra at a time.
Runner’s Lunge | 8 breaths per side
The pose relieves tight hip flexors and calves while strengthening the core.
- Start in a push-up position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists.
- Pick up your right foot and place it outside of your right hand. Heel-toe it forward and out slightly to bring your right ankle underneath your right knee. Point the toe outward at a 45-degree angle.
- Draw your navel up and in towards your spine and feel your hip flexors releasing. Hold for 8 breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
Downward Facing Dog | 8 breaths
This pose relieves tight hamstrings, calves, lats, and shoulders while strengthening the arms, core, and upper back to help keep your posture erect.
- Start in a push-up position with your hands lined up underneath your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide and press firmly into the mat while engaging your abs and your quadriceps.
- On an exhale, lift your hips towards the ceiling to make an upside down V-shape with your body.
- Press your chest up and back towards your thighs to find length through your lats and shoulders. Make your back as straight as possible, bending into the knees as needed.
- Lower your heels towards the ground to feel a stretch through your calves and hamstrings. Keep your abs engaged the entire time and gaze towards your navel. Hold for 8 slow breaths.
Supine Twist | 8 breaths per side
This pose improves range of motion in the spine and relieves tension in the lower back, upper back, chest, and shoulders.
- Lie down on your back and hug your right knee into your chest.
- Reach your right arm out to the side and cactus it so that your elbow is bent and your palm faces up.
- Use your left hand to guide your right leg across your body to come into your supine twist. Make sure to keep your right shoulder on the ground.
- Close your eyes and hold for 8 breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
Supported Fish Pose | Hold 2-5 minutes
This relaxing pose relieves tightness in the chest and shoulders, reversing poor posture caused by sitting.
- Begin by placing a yoga block at a low or medium height across the top of your mat. Then place another block underneath it at the same height so that it is going vertically down your mat, creating a T. The blocks should be a few inches apart.
- Use your hands to lower yourself down onto the blocks, with the top block supporting your head and the bottom block resting between your shoulder blades.
- Lay with your legs long and your arms resting alongside your body, palms face up.
- Close your eyes and relax for 2-5 minutes.
Your Next Workout: 7 Soothing Yoga Poses for Sciatica Pain
5 Yoga Poses to Improve Your Posture
Stand up straight! Don’t slouch! These are reminders you probably heard growing up, but healthy posture truly is an important element of overall wellness. Harvard Medical School defines “good posture” as:
- Chin parallel to the floor
- Shoulders even (roll your shoulders up, back, and down to help achieve this)
- Neutral spine (no flexing or arching to overemphasize the curve in your lower back)
- Arms at your sides with elbows straight and even
- Abdominal muscles braced
- Hips even
- Knees even and pointing straight ahead
- Body weight distributed evenly on both feet
Research shows that standing up straight is essential for building self-esteem, improving mood, and managing stress. Living life with a hunch in your shoulders, unnatural rounding in your back, or extreme arching in your back can lead to neck pain, chronic discomfort, and a general feeling of malaise. In her oft-viewed TED Talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy extols the benefits of “power posing,” which involves standing like Super Woman for a few minutes to improve confidence and give yourself a mood boost (Try it, it works!). In yoga philosophy, standing up well is related to the Solar Plexus Energy Center or Manipura Chakra, physically located at the core, waist, and mid-back. When the Solar Plexus Chakra is in balanced, you feel confident and you’re able to (physically and mentally) stand up for your beliefs and yourself.
Picking up children, driving, carrying bags, working at a computer, and any number of other daily tasks can really do a number on your back and upper body. There are several yoga poses to improve poor posture and most are easy postures that can be done at home. If you’re looking for a simple back posture corrector, give yourself the gift of better posture by moving through some of these yoga poses.
Try these yoga poses at home to improve your posture. They can be done on their own whenever you find time, or as a simple sequence upon waking or before bed. One of these poses might be the posture corrector that does the trick.
1. Reclining Spinal Twist (Supta Jathara Parivartanasana)
If you’re only going to do one yoga pose to help improve your posture, please try this one. A simple, yet powerful pose that you come into from resting on your back, this pose is wonderful to do first thing in the morning or right before getting into bed (or even IN bed!). This pose will help to release kinks and tension built up from long bouts of standing, sitting, and all of your other daily tasks. Give it a try:
- Come to rest on your yoga mat on your back. If you like to have your head supported, place a pillow or blanket beneath your head.
- Hug your knees into your chest and enjoy a few deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly.
- Extend your arms out in opposite directions, like a capital “T”.
- Bring your knees out at 90 degrees so that your shins are parallel to the earth and your knees and torso create an “L” shape.
- Take a big breath in and press your mid-back into the ground.
- As you exhale, tip your knees over to the left side of your body. Allow your feet to come to the ground and your knees to come to the ground.
- Bend your left elbow and push it into the earth. Slide your left shoulder several inches to the left so that it is untucked. Rest both shoulders and arms on the ground.
- Turn your head left and right like you’re saying “no” a few times. Allow your head to turn either direction that feels most natural for you without any struggle or strain and rest there.
- If you can breathe comfortably, stay there. If you don’t feel comfortable, try these variations: place a blanket or pillow between your knees so that your ankles, knees, and hips are in one line. If you like extra support, place your left hand on your left knee for some grounding. If you like extra support, place a pillow or bolster behind your back for some grounding.
- Settle into stillness and stay in the pose for three to five minutes, breathing deeply.
- Bring your knees back into your chest and roll around on your back a little bit.
- Repeat your twist on the second side and hold for three to five minutes.
- Bring your knees back into your chest and roll around on your back a little bit.
- Take a few moments to rest flat on your back.
2. Supported Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
This supported heart opener helps to open up the chest and upper back. Many of us hunch forward or round during our daily activities and this pose helps to counteract the effects of that rounded action. Use a block, bolster, or roll of blankets for support in this pose. Give it a try:
- Come to sit on your yoga mat and gather your block, bolster, or roll of blankets.
- Roll back onto your support props until they rest just beneath your shoulder blades. It is not an exact positioning! Roll around, move the props, and adjust until you feel comfortable.
- Tip your head back onto your mat or onto another prop for support.
- Rest your arms open or down to your sides.
- Extend your legs out in front of you. If you experience low back tenderness, place a pillow or blanket beneath your knees.
- Settle into stillness and stay in the pose for three to five minutes. Relax your shoulders, neck, and forehead. Breathe deeply.
- Roll gently to your side, slide the props out, and come to your back.
- Bring your knees back into your chest and roll around on your back a little bit.
- Take a few moments to rest flat on your back.
3. Mountain Pose (Tadasana or Samasthiti)
This neutral standing pose is a helpful practice for how to actually stand well. This is a beneficial yoga pose to improve your posture because it requires balance, poise, strength, awareness, and both effort and ease. To the outside observer, this pose may appear as if you’re just standing there, but you’ll know that, at least at first, this pose requires mindfulness. Give it a try:
- Come to stand on your yoga mat.
- Turn all your toes to point forward and bring your feet parallel with each other. Stand with your feet just as wide as your hips. One method to find this alignment is to place your fingers on the front of your pelvis (the anterior superior iliac spine/ASIS bone) and line up your feet just below.
- Rock back and forth and side to side to evenly distribute the weight between your feet and into all parts of your feet.
- Engage your legs without locking your knees.
- Angle your tailbone to point slightly more down towards the ground.
- Stand up tall and reach your hands down beside your thighs. Spin your palms to face forward and actively reach your fingers towards the earth.
- Allow your chest to open without arching your back and allow your shoulders to relax away from your ears.
- Reach the crown of your head up toward the ceiling while keeping your chin parallel to the earth.
- Feel the long line of energy along the length of your spine from your tailbone to the base of your neck and up to the crown of your head.
- Stand well and breathe easily for one to two minutes.
4. Seated Side Stretch (Parsva Sukhasana)
You bend forward and back throughout the day, but the sides of your body are often neglected. The muscles around and between the ribs, the intercostals, and the abdominal muscles that wrap around the waist, the transverse abdominis, are important muscles to stretch and strengthen for better posture. This is a beneficial pose to help with taking deeper breaths and for supporting a healthy spine. Give it a try:
- Find a comfortable seat on your yoga mat. You can cross your legs or sit back on your heels. For low back support and added comfort you may like to sit on a pillow or folded blanket.
- Enjoy a few deep breaths to get grounded and centered.
- Crawl your left fingers out to your left side. Place your hand or elbow flat on the ground and push gently to maintain both sitting bones connected to the earth.
- Reach your right arm over and across your ear.
- Allow your head and neck to relax toward your shoulder.
- One option is to hold there and breathe deeply for one to two minutes. Another option is to circle your wrist, circle your arm, or move organically to open up various areas of tightness on the entire right side.
- Come back up to center and repeat on the second side.
- Take a few moments to rest in a comfortable seat at center when you complete both sides.
5. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
To the outside observer this pose may appear as if you’re just lying there (honestly, you ARE!), but you know that to get set up and comfortable, this pose requires mindful awareness. As you learn to surrender in this pose, all of the muscles in your body that work hard for you while you’re standing, sitting, and walking are able to relax. Learning to allow your back muscles to relax is key to making sure your body isn’t too fatigued to allow you to stand with better posture. Note: This pose is often much more challenging mentally than physically! Set a timer or give yourself a pep talk beforehand if it’s a new one for you. Give it a try:
- Come to rest on your yoga mat on your back. If you like to have your head supported, place a pillow or blanket beneath your head. If you experience any low back tenderness, place a pillow or rolled up blanket beneath your knees.
- Tuck your shoulders slightly and comfortably underneath you to prop up your chest.
- Spin your palms to face up and open down by your sides.
- Shake out your legs and allow your feet to flop gently out to the sides.
- Take several deep, sighing breaths and close your eyes.
- Rest in savasana for five to ten minutes (or longer if you have time!) When you’re ready to get up, roll gently to one side and rest there for a few breaths before coming up to sit.
Have you been experiencing back or neck pain? Has anyone ever told you to stand up straight? Have you been feeling low self-esteem? These simple yet profound yoga poses may be the posture correctors you’ve hoped for. Whether you rest on your back in savasana once a day (don’t knock this “easy” pose till you try it!) or create a short sequence to do before bed, over time these poses will be highly beneficial for supporting proper posture without having to step foot in a traditional yoga class. And you may even notice the effects on your mind and spirit as well!
Discover ancient yoga, meditation, and Ayurvedic healing practices to embrace healthy change and invite flow into every aspect of your life at Seduction of Spirit, our six-day meditation and yoga retreat. Learn More.
Gary Kraftsow’s Viniyoga therapy helps you relieve stress and tension in the neck, shoulders and back and shows you how to adapt poses for healing.
Modern technology offers countless benefits—it’s an ever-growing source of information and inspiration; it keeps us easily connected to our loved ones. But the fact remains, many of us spend hours sitting in front of our computers and hunched over our mobile phones and tablets, and the repetitive movement patterns these digital devices demand can cause neck and shoulder strain. Learning to move in ways that realign our posture helps release that tension and promotes more functional movement patterns. The following sequence will help you ease your neck and shoulder pain.
1. Coordinate your breath to the movement. The breath should be a medium to help you create and feel the movement in your spine. This aids neuromuscular reeducation, which enables you to transform dysfunctional movement patterns.
2. Be sure the postures serve you, the practitioner. Rather than master these postures, your goal is to use them as a tool to gain a deeper understanding of what is going on in your body, and then adapt them to create functional change for the better. These poses have value only if they serve you as you’re practicing.
Sit comfortably with your spine extended, progressively deepening your inhale and lengthening your exhale. On the inhale, feel your chest expand; on the exhale, feel your navel draw in toward your spine. Take 12 breaths here.
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Practice These 7 Yoga Poses to Help Relieve Neck Pain
On average, how much time per day do you spend looking at a screen?
Whether it’s checking your phone for Facebook notifications, working on a laptop, or watching Netflix on your tablet, you likely spend a great deal of your day looking down at some sort of technical device.
Thus, the dreaded tech neck occurs. As people continue to spend more and more time looking at devices, neck pain in our society has exponentially increased as a result.
What Exactly Is Causing Your Neck Pain?
When you glance down at your device, your weight follows the line of your gaze. Your head angles forward, putting strain on the upper back and causing your shoulders and thoracic spine to round forward to compensate.
This, in turn, displaces extra weight to your hips, which are then forced to compensate by lessening the curvature of your lower back. As one small movement leads to another, your entire body is found in misalignment and, inevitably, pain ensues.
According to a recent study, in a neutral position, an adult head weighs roughly 10-12 pounds.
Yet when compiled with the force of gravity, if the head is moved out of neutral alignment and tilted forward by just 15 degrees, its weight skyrockets to 27 pounds. At 30 degrees, it weighs in at 40 pounds, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and an astonishing 60 pounds at a 60-degree tilt.
Combat Tech Neck – Here’s How!
Obviously, the more the head weighs, the more strain it causes in the surrounding muscles and the body as a whole. The best way to counter the effects of tech neck is to minimize them in the first place. Try your best to hold your devices at head-level and keep your spine in a neutral position when looking at any screens.
But, when you’re already feeling the pain of poor posture in your body, luckily yoga can help!
Yoga Poses to Relieve Neck Pain
The following seven yoga poses and yoga-inspired positions are helpful to stretch and strengthen the muscles in and around the neck that tend to be either contracted or elongated when we move our necks out of neutral alignment.
Try to practice each pose with mindfulness and only move within your own limits. Consistency and patience are key factors to reducing the pain from tech neck, so take it slow.
Practice these 7 yoga poses to relieve tech neck pain:
1. Neck Stretch
When someone experiences tech neck, the muscles of the neck are obviously strained. Simply working to stretch and lengthen these overworked muscles can help alleviate some of the pain.
Here’s how to do it:
Start seated in any comfortable position (you can sit in a chair or on the floor). Try to align the crown of your head over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips. Find length throughout your entire back body by sitting up nice and tall.
Maintaining this posture, reach your right arm behind your back and take a hold of your left bicep (if this feels out of reach for you, you can wrap a yoga strap or a towel around your left bicep and then hold onto that with your right hand). Allow your left arm to rest in your lap and relax your shoulders down away from your ears.
Inhale to reach the crown of your head toward the sky, and exhale to gently release your left ear toward your left shoulder. Soften your shoulders and your jaw as you lengthen through the entire right side of your neck. You can experiment with turning your gaze (and chin) down or up to find the angle of the stretch that best serves you.
Hold for 5-10 deep breaths and then repeat on the opposite side, switching your arms and the tilt of your head.
2. Shoulder Thread-the-Needle
The shoulders pick up a lot of the slack left over from the neck, and because tech neck can misalign the body so severely, shoulder stretches are also essential to eliminate neck pain.
Here’s how to do it:
Start on all fours in a tabletop position with your shoulders aligned over your wrists and your hips aligned over your knees. As you inhale, reach your right arm up toward the sky and open your chest toward the right.
As you exhale, reach your right arm underneath your left shoulder, “threading the needle” as you lower your right shoulder and right cheek to either the floor, a block, a bolster or a blanket.
You can stay as you are, or if you’d like to deepen the release, you can wrap your left arm around your lower back (perhaps even hooking your fingers into your hip crease) to twist your chest open further toward the left. Hold for about 5-10 deep breaths before repeating on the other side.
3. Supported Fish Pose
This position is excellent to counteract the posture that most people hold all day – hunched over a computer, looking down – which leads to tech neck. Opening the chest and shoulders and moving the neck in the opposite direction can work wonders to improve the symptoms of tech neck.
Here’s how to do it:
Recline over either a block, a rolled up yoga mat, a pillow, a rolled up blanket, a stack of books, or a yoga wheel. Place whichever object you’re using directly underneath your thoracic spine (the bottom of the object should touch the bottom tip of your shoulder blades) so that your chest expands upward toward the sky in a supported backbend.
You can allow your arms to release toward your hips, you can open your arms out wide into a T-shape, or you can reach your arms up over your head (each option will stretch a different part of your pectoral muscles, so choose whichever feels best or even work all three!).
Relax your weight completely into the object you are reclined over and surrender muscular control. Hold for about 3-5 minutes, maintaining deep breathing.
4. Dolphin Pose
While stretching is important to combat tech neck, strengthening exercises are also crucial. Dolphin works to both stretch and strengthen the muscles surrounding the neck to create a stable base for your (heavy!) head to rest on in healthy alignment.
Here’s how to do it:
Again, start on all fours in a tabletop position. Bring your forearms to the floor and grab hold of opposite elbows to ensure that your arms are shoulder-width apart.
Maintain that distance as you place your forearms parallel to each other on the mat. Spread your fingers wide and press down firmly into your forearms to lift your chest up and away from the floor.
From here, tuck your toes and lift your knees off the mat and start to walk your feet toward a Downward Facing Dog shape while leaving your forearms on the floor. Try to walk your feet as close toward your hands as possible (feel free to bend your knees here).
Keep pressing your forearms into the floor and expand your chest toward your thighs. Relax the weight of your head and let it hang heavy with gravity. Hold for 5- 10 full, deep breaths.
5. Forward Fold with Neck Stretch
Allowing gravity to help pull the weight of your head and torso down toward the floor can help to lengthen the cervical spine and release any built-up tension in the neck and shoulders.
Here’s how to do it:
Place your feet about hip-distance apart and hinge forward from the hips into a standing forward fold, or classic Uttanasana. Feel free to bend your knees as much as you would like to. Relax the weight of your head and torso and let everything surrender downward with gravity.
Interlace your fingers behind your neck and soften the weight of your arms toward the floor. Be cautious not to push or pull on your neck here – instead, simply allow the added weight of your arms to move you further into your release. Hold for about one minute.
6. Forward Fold with Chest & Shoulder Stretch
As noted in the previous pose, using your own body weight in conjunction with the force of gravity can move you deeper into stretches. This stretch works to release the shoulders and chest (which are both highly contracted as a result of tech neck).
Here’s how to do it:
Start in the previous forward fold, but this time, interlace your fingers behind your back and work toward straightening your arms as much as possible over your head. Reach your arms first straight up and then allow them to surrender with gravity towards the front of your mat.
Draw your shoulder blades toward each other and broaden your chest. Allow your torso and your head to be heavy and relaxed. Hold for about one minute.
7. Wall Chest & Shoulder Opener
As previously mentioned, releasing strain and tightness from the chest and shoulders is critical to relieving the pain and tension caused by tech neck. Our bodies are one interconnected web and releasing tension from one area can help to alleviate it from another as well.
Here’s how to do it:
Find a neutral stance facing a wall and stand one foot away from it. Stand up tall and stack your shoulders directly above your hips. Heel-toe your feet hip-distance apart and place a micro-bend into your knees. Gently activate your core to support your spine.
Place your right hand on the wall in line with your shoulder and point your fingers toward the right. Maintaining your neutral spine, slowly begin to turn your torso away from the wall and walk your feet toward the left as far as it feels comfortable. Breath into the release through your chest and shoulders for about 5-10 deep breaths before repeating on the opposite side.
Neck Pain Be Gone! These Yoga Poses Will Help
Practicing these yoga poses to relieve neck pain will help you find some relief from tech neck. Remember – the poses and stretches themselves are just as important as restructuring your posture when you use technical devices.
The best way to relieve the pain from tech neck is to simply prevent it, but along the way, yoga can certainly help!
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13 Gentle Yoga Stretches for Neck Pain Relief
If you’ve got a stiff or sore neck, these extra-gentle yoga stretches can help bring you some relief.
Whether you’ve moved your head around too much, sat still for too long, or just slept on it wrong, neck pain can really put a damper in your day. When your neck gets too stiff, it can make it difficult to do everyday things, like drive a car or comfortably sit at a desk.
When neck pain strikes, follow this gentle sequence and say hello to a more flexible, mobile, and pain-free neck. Each of these postures is safe for beginners and can benefit even the most advanced yogi.
Suffering from a sore neck, back and shoulders? Get our mobility guide to ease pain and soreness.
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To get the most out of this yoga sequence, be sure to take your time and breathe deeply into each stretch. Your breath is key for releasing tension from tight and stiff muscles.
Start by doing all 13 of these yoga stretches in one session, and take notes on which feel best for you. Feel free to select 2-3 of your favorites and use them regularly to prevent and relieve tension or stiffness in your neck.
All you need is a yoga mat, two yoga blocks and a towel to get started!
Quick Disclaimer: Not all neck stretches and yoga positions are safe for everyone. If you feel unsafe or unsure about any of these positions please consult a doctor who can assess your neck flexibility. Be very gentle and careful any time you are stretching your neck. Any pull, press or application of weight on your neck should be done in the most gentle and controlled manner possible. If in doubt, skip the pose and focus on the ones you can do safely and comfortably.
Yoga Stretches for Neck Pain
Child’s Pose with Arms Tucked | 3-5 breaths
- Kneel on all fours and sit back onto your heels.
- Lower your forehead down to the mat, keeping your chin tucked in.
- Lift your hips slightly to create room for your arms to slide between your thighs and calves.
- Sit back on your forearms while rounding out your upper spine.
- Lean forward to put a slight amount of pressure on your head, gently stretching your neck and shoulders.
- Hold for 3-5 deep breaths. Keep your chin tucked to intensify the stretch.
Child’s Pose with Elbows on Block | 5 breaths
- Keeping your legs in Child’s Pose, grab two yoga blocks and place them next to each other, lengthwise, about 4 inches in front of you.
- Rest your elbows on the blocks, place your palms together and let your hands rest on your upper back.
- Tuck your chin and allow your head to drop towards the ground in front of the blocks to elongate and stretch your neck. Hold for 5 deep breaths.
Child’s Pose Thread the Needle Twist | 3 breaths per side
- Start in Child’s Pose, with both arms stretched out long in front of you.
- Extend your right arm up towards the sky, then reach it underneath your left arm. You can prop up on your left fingertips, or you can walk your arm out in front of you for a deeper stretch.
- Relax your head on the ground and enjoy the stretch in your neck and shoulder.
- Hold for 3 deep breaths, then switch sides.
Supine Lying Chin Tuck with Towel | 3 breaths
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent.
- Roll up a towel or use a yoga strap and place it at the base of your skull, creating a cradle for your head. Slide your hands up about six inches on both sides.
- Lift the strap straight up to gently lengthen your neck and spine. Think of pulling the towel up rather than forward, keeping your chest open to allow for deep breathing.
- Press your shoulders towards the ground to intensify the stretch. Hold for 3 deep breaths.
Sphinx Pose Chin Tuck | 5 breaths
- Lie belly-down on the mat and prop yourself up with your elbows just below your shoulders, palms facing down.
- Tilt your chin down to lengthen your neck. Keep your shoulders down and back.
- Feel the stretch through the back and sides of your neck. Hold for 5 deep breaths.
Supported Plow | 3 breaths
- Lie on your back and lift your legs up to rock into a plow position.
- Touch your toes softly to the ground, or use blocks under your toes to make it easier. You may also bend your knees if this is too much of a stretch in your legs.
- Support your lower back with your hands, and keep looking straight ahead. Do not move your neck to look to the left or right!
- Press your shoulders down away from your ears and relax your neck. Hold for 3 deep breaths.
Angry Cat Stretch | 6-8 breaths
- Start in an all fours position.
- Press your palms down into the ground as you lift your spine up to round your back.
- Tuck your chin and look towards your belly button to stretch your neck.
- Shift forward so the weight is heavier on your palms than your knees. Lift your spine upwards and make space between your shoulder blades.
- Hold for 6-8 deep breaths.
Standing Forward Fold with Hands Behind Head | 3-5 breaths
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping a microbend in your knees, fold at the hips to bend down. Allow your upper body to relax as much as possible.
- Interlace your fingers and place your palms at the back of your head.
- Tuck your chin and gently press forward and down on the back of your head to stretch your neck. Bend your knees as much as you need.
- Hold for 3-5 deep breaths as you continue to gently stretch and elongate your neck.
Seated Neck Tilt | 3 breaths per side
- Sit in a comfortable, seated position.
- Place your fingertips down on the ground at your sides and roll your shoulders down and back.
- Lift your right arm and place your fingertips above your left ear to gently pull in the opposite direction of your extended arm.
- Gaze towards the sky to stretch the front of your neck, look straight ahead to stretch the sides of your neck, and shift your gaze down and to the right to stretch the back of your neck.
- Hold whichever angle feels best for three breaths, or alternate between them to stretch all sides of your neck. Switch sides.
Seated Chin Lift | 3 breaths
- Sit back on your heels or in any comfortable seated position.
- Make a fist with one hand, and then cover it with the other. Place your fists under your chin, keeping your spine straight and elbows shoulder-width apart.
- Relax and press your shoulders down as you tilt your head back and lift your elbows up towards the ceiling.
- Gently press into your chin to feel the stretch in the front of the neck and a gentle compression in the back of your neck. Hold for three deep breaths.
Rabbit Pose | 3-5 breaths
- Kneel with your knees shoulder-width apart, feet together and arms out long to get into Child’s Pose.
- Place the top of your head directly on the mat and as close to your knees as possible.
- Grab onto your heels and stretch your shoulder blades apart.
- Lift your hips and rock forward as much as you comfortably can.
- Hold for 3-5 breaths. Tuck your chin for a stronger neck stretch.
- Return to Child’s Pose and hold for a moment before rising back up.
Seated Eagle Arms | 5 breaths
- Sit in a kneeling or comfortable seated position.
- Lift your right arm up with your elbow bent in front of your chest.
- Loop your left arm underneath your right and wrap it around so your palms meet.
- Push your fingertips up and away from your face while keeping your shoulders down. Keep your neck back or in a neutral position.
- Hold for five deep breaths, then switch sides. Note: Usually one side will be more difficult than the other, but try to do both sides evenly.
Block Supported Savasana | 6 Breaths
- Sit on your mat and position two blocks on your mat, one to sit in the middle of your back and the other as a headrest. The head block can be in any position, but the back supporting block should be at a low or medium height only.
- Slowly lower down onto the blocks to get into a comfortable resting position.
- Start with your knees bent, then slowly straighten your legs if you can. Roll your shoulders back and let your arms fall by your sides, palms facing up
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and press your shoulders down towards the ground to lengthen your neck. Tuck your chin to feel a greater stretch in the back of your neck.
- Hold for six deep breaths.
(Your Next Workout: 9 Exercises to Release Neck and Shoulder Pain)
Eliminate sciatica and chronic back pain with this simple seated stretch
Believe it or not, you CAN
eliminate chronic back pain in
just 10 minutes a day, without
any surgeries, painful exercises,
Believe it or not, you CAN
eliminate chronic back
pain in just 10 minutes a
day, without any surgeries,
painful exercises, or pills.
Assessing and Correcting Posture
Yogananda often said, “A bent spine is the enemy of Self-realization.”
Patanjali stated in his Yoga Sutras, “The fruit of right poise is the strength to resist the shocks of infatuation or sorrow.”
In The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, Swami Kriyananda wrote, “Right posture is vitally important to the yogi.”
And one of the first known written books on Hatha Yoga, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, explained that asana “… should be practiced for gaining steady posture, health and lightness of body.”
The importance of good posture is undisputed. Yet I have found that the teaching of good posture is rarely at the forefront of most yoga classes. Even in classes that purport to emphasize alignment, often the focus is so strongly on, say, the position of the little finger, or the placement of the femur through various muscular contractions, that it can leave the spine in a compromised position.
At best the spine is beset with tension, and at worst it is contracted in such a way as to impede the flow of energy up the spine — and an unimpeded flow of energy is the ultimate goal of practicing yoga postures, whether one’s goal is physical prowess or enlightenment. I suspect that there are several reasons for this common discrepancy. Some instructors do not have the training and experience to be able to correct more than the grossest postural problems. Even those who are better versed in alignment may not realize that correct positioning of the spine is more important than correct positioning of any other part of the body.
It also takes a combination of hard work and intuitive attunement to be able to teach students of varying body shapes and sizes how to have perfectly aligned posture. To teach the subtleties of alignment, it is necessary to experiment with one’s own posture and learn how to experience the subtle shifts of energy caused by subtle alignment changes.
The Purpose of Posture
Why is good posture so important? How can we know whether we ourselves are in good alignment? How can we know whether our students have the best alignment that they can have for their bodies in order to maximize their benefits from yoga practice? And how do we make corrections to improper posture?
Proper alignment is necessary for preventing injuries as well as maximizing the benefits of any asana. For example, putting all of one’s weight onto the standing leg when the knee is hyperextended puts tremendous strain on the ligaments supporting the knee. They become overstretched and may cause swelling, which can over time cause damage to the knee joint. Also, overstretched ligaments in any joint provide less support, predisposing one to a potential future injury from something as mundane as stepping off the curb incorrectly and causing a sprained joint.
Additionally when the knee is hyperextended, the leg muscles are not being correctly utilized and strengthened, and the energy flow of the leg is disrupted, thus limiting the potential benefits of the asana.
Similarly, misalignments in the spine can create the same problems, for the vertebrae also are connected by joints. I’m sure you can see how misalignments in the spine and the corresponding problems can easily be compounded.
When working therapeutically with yourself or your students, proper alignment is essential. Often injuries are caused by poor posture and/or continue to be aggravated by poor posture. A very subtle correction in alignment can make the difference between complete recovery and being stuck with managing a chronic problem.
Posture and Energy Flow
Poor posture impedes energy flow, with a resultant negative impact on one mentally, physically and spiritually. Conversely, good posture will help improve one’s mental, physical and spiritual state of being.
For example, when we are feeling well (on any level — mentally, physically or spiritually), we naturally lift our eyes and lengthen our spine. In describing how we feel, we use words like “up” and “high.” When we are not well, we tend to look down, slump our spine, and speak of being “down.”
Indeed, when we are feeling “up” there is a corresponding upward flow of energy in the spine. This upward movement of energy is one of upliftment and expansion, and with it comes vitality in the physical body and a more positive mental outlook. Spiritually, this upward energy can be directed toward an expansion of consciousness.
On the other hand, when we are feeling “down,” there is a corresponding downward flow of energy in the spine. This downward movement of energy is one of contraction; with it comes a loss of physical energy/vitality and a more negative mental outlook. Spiritually, it tends to move us toward self-centeredness.
A Quick Postural Checkpoint
A simple test for your own alignment is to stand in Tadasana for five minutes or more, then ask yourself the following questions: “Am I comfortable? Am I completely free of tension? Am I becoming more energized as I stay longer in Tadasana, feeling the energy moving upward in my spine?” If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, then your alignment is probably very good.
On the other hand, if even the thought of standing in Tadasana for five minutes makes you uncomfortable, then probably you have some work to do on your posture — and probably you should not even try the exercise. (A word of advice: do not ask your students to stand this long in Tadasana in class unless they have good posture and are very advanced. Otherwise at best, you will see attendance going down in your subsequent classes, and at worst you will have someone’s muscles go into a spasm that’s not easily released.)
When we align our bones correctly, we will engage muscles that are designed to keep us in our upright posture. These “postural muscles” are designed to hold us upright for long periods of time.
However, when we are not aligned properly, the body must recruit other muscles — muscles not intended for this purpose — to hold us upright. Because those muscles are being asked to do something that they were not designed to do, they will tire easily — as well as spasm — if asked to do the work of the postural muscles for too long. (In fact, if one has not been in proper alignment for a long time, the postural muscles will have atrophied to some extent. They will need to be toned progressively, and it may take a while before they can return to their intended full-time job.)
Overview of Correcting Posture
First of all, to assess your students’ alignment in Tadasana or any other asana, you will have to walk around the room and view your students individually from the front, from at least one side, and from the back. No amount of postural knowledge will help you individually correct your students’ posture if you view them only from your position in the front of the classroom.
Second, when correcting posture, always start at the base first. In standing asanas, the base is the feet. Tension and misalignment in the spine are often the results of improper distribution of weight on the feet.
In seated asanas, the base is the ischial tuberosities (a.k.a. sitzbones, sitbones, sitting bones). If the sitzbones are tilted forward even slightly (i.e., the pelvis is over-tucked), the spine cannot be in proper alignment. True, we do not want to tip the pelvis too far forward either, but only very flexible individuals will be able to come into that exaggerated position. Particularly inflexible individuals, on the other hand, will not be able to tip forward enough to come into proper alignment without the aide of props such as blankets or pillows under the sitzbones.
In fact, anyone who has an injury or chronic condition that is even mildly aggravated when sitting on the floor — and for whom props do not completely alleviate the discomfort — should not sit on the floor until he or she is able to do so with no discomfort whatsoever.
Starting from the base, work your way up the body to make corrections. As you do this, continually look back at the base and the other lower points, because there is the habitual tendency for the body to revert to its former position while you may be trying to correct another area.
Last of all, do not expect perfection all at once. Though it is important to have excellent posture, reality will dictate how quickly one can move toward a more perfect alignment. In many cases, it is quite enough of a challenge simply to focus on the proper placement of the feet, while generally encouraging the rest of the body to “stand tall.” Again, you want your students to come back to class, right?
Alignment of the Joints
My own view of proper alignment is that, viewed from the side, the center of the ankle joint, center of the hip joint, center of the shoulder joint, and center of the ear canal should be in a straight vertical line (see photo). That sounds easy, but it is actually a bit tricky to tell where these centers are.
The black dot marks the center of the knee joint. It is somewhat behind the visual center of the knee.
For example, when one looks at the knee joint, the tendency is to find the midpoint between the front and the back of the visible parts of the knee. That is incorrect. The kneecap is in front of — not part of — the actual knee joint (see image.)
If you consider the kneecap as part of the joint, you will determine an incorrect center of the joint, and thereby possibly encourage hyperextension of the knee joint just to get all of these points into alignment.
Fortunately, the other points of alignment are easier to find than is the knee. Even then, it takes practice to get it right with all the different body shapes and sizes that you’ll encounter. Make small adjustments at any given time, observe the results, and ask your students how they feel in the new position. Explain to them that they may feel different or strange — and that’s okay — but you do not want them to feel discomfort or tension. Then ask them specifically, “How do you feel in this new position?” The more feedback you get, the more you will learn about what works and what does not work.
Getting Clarity on “Natural Curves”
For correct posture, the spine should be in its “natural curves.” If you look closely at the curves of the spine on a skeleton, you may be surprised at how small the curves actually are. However, when looking at an actual person, the true skeletal shape is somewhat obscured by the many different types of tissue that cover it (see image of the skeleton inside the outline of the body.)
For example, in standing posture, the protrusion of the gluteal muscles (and perhaps some fatty tissue as well!) tends to give the illusion that the lumbar spine has more curve than it actually does. Therefore it’s easy to conclude — incorrectly — that someone with large, developed glueteals has too much curve.
Then too, someone with nearly flat gluteals may appear to have insufficient lumbar curvature. A lumbar curve can also look flatter than it is because of a lot of developed musculature in the lower back; this is often the case with people who do physical labor for a living — the spine can literally disappear between two high ridges of muscle.
Keep in mind that healthy spinal curvature is not a “one size fits all” proposition. Once while being examined by Dr. David Kessler (from Ananda Village), Gyandev remarked that his lumbar curve was too flat.
Dr. Kessler’s response was, “Are you comparing your lumbar curve with some theoretical lumbar curve that you think you’re supposed to have?”
When you are not sure if someone’s clothes, excess or lack of fatty tissues etc., may be making their posture look “not quite right” to you, go back to checking whether the points of alignment are in their proper places. Also try to get your students to relax into good posture. Being tense is not only undesirable, but can make a person’s posture not look right even if their bones are aligned properly.
Similarly, the scapulae (shoulderblades) and the muscles around them tend to make the thoracic spine appear to have more curve than it actually does. Finally, the skull perched on top of — and sticking out behind — the cervical spine gives the appearance that the cervical spine has more curve than it actually does (see image).
With all of this said, do make sure that people keep their curves! Too little curvature in any part of the spine is potentially just as destructive as too much curvature, and that, too, will impede the flow of energy up the spine. The natural curves of the human spine developed as they did to help support the body, distribute our weight effectively, and provide cushioning to absorb shock from walking, jumping, and moving in general. Without the curves, we lose our ability to move freely without risk of injury.
Common Postural Problems
To make corrections in spinal curvature, I’ve found it helpful to be aware that different people have different learning mechanisms. Some people respond best to auditory cues, others to tactile (touch) cues, still others to visual cues.
For the auditory person, imagery often works well: “Feel as though there is a weight at the end of your tailbone” will help to tuck the pelvis. For the tactile person, a light touch can be best; e.g. lightly touch the tops of the scapulae with the tips of your fingers to indicate that they should release downward.
You might want a visual learner simply to watch you make the correction on yourself, e.g., draw a protruding chin inward, toward the back of the neck. So I find it important to offer all three types of cues. And for especially difficult corrections, it sometimes takes the repetition of all three to achieve the response that you want.
In my experience one of the most common postural problems is having the weight too far back on the feet, i.e., too much weight on the heels. Even a small amount of misdistribution can create postural problems and tension farther up in the spine.
Here, the lower ribs are protruding forward. Compare with this photo:
Often related to this is the tendency to have the lower rib cage protruding forward and the upper part of the rib cage angled toward the back of the body (see photo.)
This is actually very common in experienced yoga students (and teachers) with otherwise good posture. We spend so much time working on opening the heart area and counteracting the influence of gravity and rounded shoulders, that we and our students often overcorrect the spine and rib cage in this way.
Always be sure before making this adjustment that the lower body alignment is in place to support the correction. Sometimes this rib cage position is simply the body’s reaction to the alignment below being off, as in the case of someone who chronically has the pelvis shifted way forward, so it’s not under the shoulders anymore. First get the lower body aligned, then (if necessary) proceede with the upper body correction(s).
To help correct this position, I will sometimes exaggerate the incorrect position with my own body, and place my hands on the sides of my ribs, showing with my fingers that the lower rib cage is pointing forward. Then when I correct my posture they can see that my fingers move to pointing straight down toward the floor. I speak of bringing the rib cage over the pelvis.
Another effective method for correcting this problem is to stand to one side of your student and simultaneously place one finger on their upper back (indicating that the upper back is to move forward) and another finger on their lower rib cage in front (to suggest that it move backward), all the while explaining the desired direction of movement.
“Hey, This Feels Really Strange!”
When we correct this position by moving the lower part of the rib cage back and the upper part of the rib cage forward — bringing the rib cage to its upright position right over the pelvis — there is often an accompanying feeling of being too far forward. There even can be a sensation of feeling like one is about to fall forward.
Similar misperceptions of being “off” can occur with other postural corrections. This off-balance sensation is produced by a mechanism in the inner ear that is responsible for our sense of balance. When we habitually place ourselves out of alignment, this inner ear mechanism will in time “give up” on us, figuring that this must be the way we want our bodies to be. To help us strengthen this desired position, the inner ear will reprogram itself to give the signal that this new position is “normal.”
Then, for example, when we correct a position in which we were aligned too far back, the inner ear signals that we are now forward of our “normal” position by causing us to feel that we may be in danger of falling on our face.
I have made this correction countless times, and though I have known many a student to experience this sensation, rest assured that not one has ever fallen on his or her face — or even lost his or her balance, for that matter — due to my making this correction in Tadasana.
One way you can know that you are not overcorrecting someone is to ask if s/he feels tension or is uncomfortable in the new position. As long as the answer is “no,” then sensations such as feeling like falling forward, feeling “funny,” strange, etc., are okay; they will go away as the inner ear recalibrates itself. In fact, the inner ear re-calibrates itself fairly quickly.
Unfortunately it takes us a lot longer to change our postural habits than it does for the inner ear to adjust. I had a rather dramatic experience of this phenomenon many years ago when I had an operation on both of my feet. I was in a wheelchair for a month. My legs were kept straight out in front of me at a right angle to my torso. At the end of this period, when my doctor told me to stand up, I did so, but I kept my body at the same right angle that I’d been sitting in for the past month! Intellectually I knew that I was bent over at a right angle, but experientially, I felt that if I were to straighten up, I would fall over backward. It was a very strong sensation.
The doctor took my hand to encourage me to stand up and walk down the hallway. I can still remember my surprise at not being able to overcome the feedback that I was receiving from my body, even though I “knew” it was okay for me to stand upright. I still think of how hard I held onto my doctor’s hand as I tentatively walked down the hall, as though I was about to fall backward off the edge of a cliff. To this day I wonder if I bruised his hand by holding on so tightly! I do not remember exactly how long it took for the inner ear feedback to adjust, but the process did begin immediately, and in a matter of days I felt normal once again in my upright position!
Another aspect of postural habits is that neurological pathways are created between the muscles and the brain when we form muscular habits, whether good or bad. It takes time and concentration to create new habits and reprogram the neuromuscular pathways. Once the effort has been put forth and a new habit has been established, the hard work pays off — from that time forward, less energy and focus are needed to maintain it.
When you find a student with postural misalignment in Tadasana, you can usually bet that s/he will have the same misalignment in other asanas. If you do not address the misalignment in Tadasana, you will find it that much more difficult to correct the misalignment in the other asanas. Furthermore, as the asana positions become more complex, one increases the likelihood that the misalignment will aggravate an old injury or cause a new one.
When I work with young children, I ask them if they are ready for a really, really hard asana. If they say “yes,” then I have them stand briefly in Tadasana. I praise them for whatever attempt they made to stay still and tell them that it is a difficult pose for adults to do as well.
Keep this in mind for your classes also. Do not spend too much uninterrupted time working on postural alignment in Tadasana. Instead, weave good alignment points throughout the entire class. Always check first for anything that can cause strain or injury, such as hyperextended knees in a standing pose or a hyperextended neck in a backward bend. Then go back to the basics of proper distribution of the weight on the feet or the angle of the sitzbones.
Final Tips on Teaching Correct Posture
The more familiar you become with the human skeleton and how it looks when placed in various positions, the more you will be able to fine-tune alignment. Learn to have x-ray eyes to figure out how a student’s skeletal frame is lining up underneath all the layers of clothes and varying shapes of muscles and fat.
Once you get a feel for the bony alignment, go a little deeper and become aware of tension and relaxation in your students. You may be able to get your student’s bones to align properly, but if you still are observing tension, then you need to work on suggesting ways to release the muscular tension. Often the slightest touch and/or mention of releasing or relaxing will produce the desired results.
Dynamic use of the affirmations can also promote good alignment. A well-energized affirmation of “Strength and courage fill my body cells!” can help take the wilt out of a collapsed Chandrasana. Some quiet, relaxed time in an asana can help melt away the tensions of old habits as well as interiorize the experience for the student.
You’ll help your students in an even more profound way if you can sense if and where energy is being blocked in a pose, then help them adjust their position to get it moving again. This is definitely a more-advanced teaching skill, but it’s well worth the effort to develop it.
After stating the importance of right posture in The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, Swami Kriyananda goes on to say:
“A bent spine impairs the flow of energy. It also cramps the breath, making it almost impossible to breathe deeply. Right posture, however, from a standpoint of yoga, is by no means the rigid stance of a soldier on parade. One must be relaxed even while standing straight.
“Indeed, until one can learn to keep his spine straight, he will never know how to relax perfectly.”
And if we don’t have perfect relaxation, then vibrant health, complete peace of mind, and spiritual heights also will elude us. So, whether your students are looking for a more perfect body, peace of mind, or Self-realization, the more you can help them improve their posture, the more swiftly they will be able to move toward their goal.
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Hey guys what’s up it’s Dean. Today we’re going to go through a quick flow to help with before you sit down for extended periods of time…so this is great for the mornings before you want to work you don’t have a lot of time or if you’re at the airport and you don’t have a you have a few minutes before you board. This would be a great idea.
So we’re to start off in a chair pose feet about six inches apart you don’t need any equipment for this workout…so feet six inches apart, bring your butt straight back bring your arms out. Now work on getting the weight into your hips so you’re trying to squeeze your butt cheeks together, squeezing your inner thighs particularly the upper part of your inner thighs together and really squeezing your glutes so just getting those muscles active because they’re going to be pretty dormant for a while and then I want you to lift your arms overhead as much as you can. Remember we’re not going for that long we’re only going for a few minutes so really push it while we’re here…so the legs are squeezing toward one another the knees are pulling back behind the toes glutes are engaged arms are reaching overhead…so stretching the shoulders and make sure you’re turning the palms to face up or slightly back…give this two more breaths, maybe sink a little bit deeper into it, and we’re really focusing on the muscle engagement here because again we’re not going to be using your muscles a lot in the next few hours, or in a couple hours, whatever you’re sitting for so you want to make sure those muscles get active, get turned on. A little lower one more breath…alright stand back up and we’re going to go into a high lunge, right foot forward left one back squeeze your legs toward one another so squeeze your back thigh squeeze your right heel toward the back try to get your right hip below the left hip so you’re pushing your right butt toward the ground, keeping your left thigh squeezed and engage and squeezing the legs toward one another. Make sure that your hips are centered and bring your arms up into a goal post arms now so now we’re going to work on opening up the chest and you want to lift your ribs up away from your hips while reaching your tailbone down, so making sure that you’re not in your back so you’re bringing length to your lower back you’re keeping the weight particularly in the abs and in the hip area right so not near the knees but all right around the middle of your body and give this a few breaths to…every exhale maybe sinking a little bit deeper, try to push your elbows out wide and squeeze your arms back make sure your arms are a little bit externally rotated so not facing down like this but opening up through the chest…see if you can sink a little bit deeper still squeezing the back thigh and one more breath we’re going to move up into a standing one leg balance..I want you to press down to your right foot bring your left knee up the hip level squeeze your right glute keep your shoulder stacked on top of your ankles and push your left hand into your left thigh so abs are tight and balances are great because they activate so much muscle so as you’re balancing on your right leg focus on pushing down to the heel squeezing your hip tightening the muscles in your right leg but also working your hip flexor in your left leg keep pushing your head up, keep your abs tight go ahead and bring your arm up to because your arm probably isn’t going to be overhead for a while…all right and then one more we’re going to bring your left heel back grab the inside of your left foot bring your right arm straight up inhale and then press into a standing bow, so try to keep your hips above your ankle make sure that your hips aren’t coming out in front, make sure your tailbone is reaching down to protect your spine, even squeeze your hips toward one another, really reach the right arm up and press hard into your back hand so really pushing the left foot hard into your left hand….two breaths here try and lengthen from your left knee to your left ribcage and then go ahead and release and switch sides immediately stepping your right leg back into a high lunge now we want to get the left glute toward the ground so try to sink that left hip make sure you’re squeezing the toes toward your heels so trying to lift that arch on your front foot now squeeze your right thigh to help open up to the right hip sink your hips down just a little bit reaching your tailbone down to get extra stretch through your right hip also protect your spine and again we want to focus the weight in the hip area right so right in the core kind of from the the thigh through the ribs…no tension in your spine because the core is engaged and even squeeze your legs toward one another so the right foot squeezes forward and slightly into it the middle same thing with the left leg squeezing back and then toward the middle and then again arms up into goal post arms slight external rotation and again that’s because our arms are going to be down along our side stopping that overhead so we want to get the shoulders open and get those muscles active in the back, so even pinch your shoulder blades towards one another and use the muscles in your back to stretch the muscles in your chest in the front of your body…use your exhale to sink deeper try to straighten the right leg as much as you can don’t do so at the expense of your lower back though…if you feel like it’s it’s too tight and you’re feeling a little pinching a little discomfort and your lower back ease up and soften the knee. Two more breaths here and you’re just opening up that right hip…all right and then into a standing March hold or standing one leg balance…bring your right knee up to hip level press your right foot sorry right thigh into your right hand make sure the shoulders are above the hips right so we aren’t leaning back or pushing the knee forward and falling over like I just did but standing straight up right…go ahead and bring the left arm up…breathing in and out of the nose keeping it slow and controlled and again focusing on muscle activation so we’ve got the core active we’ve got the right hip active got the left leg active…one more breath here and into the next balance pose so bring your right leg back try to do this seamlessly grab the inside of your right foot make sure your bicep faces out to the side, left arm goes up breathe in….exhale push back press hard into your right hand with your right foot, lift your left arm up reach your tailbone down so try to make the front side of your body longer actually try to lengthen the back side of your body as well so keeping both sides long so keeping height, and then really pushing hard into that right hand so almost treating this like a leg exercise right so pressing hard into that hand almost like you’re trying to move a weight…left arm goes up high…two more breaths here try to keep the hips squared forward opening up to the ribs but at the same time keeping the abs tight to protect your spine…one more breath…and then go ahead and release. All right we’re going to take it down to the ground just a couple more exercises here into a plank…pull your body forward, tighten the ABS lift your bellybutton squeeze your thighs squeeze your hands toward your feet and so I would you can just 10 seconds squeeze your hands toward your feet squeeze your biceps tighten your arms push your head forward press your heels back…five seconds…and then lower down halfway into a half push-up over the low plank and then from here push up into an up dog or take it down to a Cobra so flip your feet press down through your hands pull your body forward turn your biceps to face forward push the top of your head toward the ceiling squeeze your shoulder blades together arch your back but squeeze the legs toward one another to protect your core, lift up and then flip your feet and take it into a Down Dog..so hands are a little wider than shoulder width, bend the knees work on stretching the hamstrings, push your thighs back as much as you can, squeeze your legs toward one another, work on slightly pulling your chest forward so kind of opening up your sternum toward the front of the room…hug your arms toward one another hug the legs toward one another and try to work on your core engagement here so we’re opening up the calves, stretching the hamstrings, getting the shoulders active, and let’s do three breaths here try to squeeze your quadriceps and if your legs aren’t locked out don’t worry about it it’s fine…one more breath here, try to wrap the thighs in push your hips back a little bit more alright then a quick pigeon on both sides…so right knee toward the right wrist crawl the left leg back squeeze the legs toward one another pull the chest up, and really arch the back here so again we want to get the body into positions that were won’t be doing while we’re sitting, so chest pulling up, legs squeezing towards one another so the right knee squeezes toward the left knee and allowing the hips to sink down with the exhale…just one more breath here and then go ahead and switch sides so take it back into a Down Dog, left knee toward the left hand left foot across the body crawl the right leg back keep the chest upright, squeeze the left knee toward the right leg, pull the chest forward and up remember arching the back breathing in and out of the nose and allowing the left hip to open up, you shouldn’t feel any pressure in your knee, if you are feeling pressure than the you can bring the left heel a little closer to the hip, back toward the hips, or you can also put some on the weight into the hands and as that as you start to sink into the stretch as your hip opens up then you can put more weight into the legs again…just one more deep breath here…all right and then from here tuck the toes come back to a down dog just a couple breaths here opening up the hamstrings a little bit more pushing down through your hands squeezing the shoulders toward one another keeping the shoulders firm and strong tighten abs a little more one more breath all right and then take it back up.
And that’s it, all right guys so a quick little flow 11 12 minutes this is great for to do before you sit down for a long time, so you have a few minutes and you’re at the office or maybe you don’t have time for a full workout and you’re about to head into work or maybe you’re going to go for a drive, this is a great little flow for you to do to help negate the negative effects of sitting, so helping you get your chest open, getting your hips open stretching your hamstrings, getting your glutes active getting your arms overhead instead of at your sides that’s going to help with your mobility and help with how you feel throughout the day.
All right guys thanks for joining me today…if you’re watching this in the members area thank you so much for being part of the man flow yoga community…if you’re watching this somewhere else if you’re looking for more work up like this and easily easily to navigate and very convenient location everything in one place with workout programs and very organized the members area is just $1 to check out so you can sign up for a seven day trial for $1 at manflowyoga.com/7-days…thanks again for watching and if you found this useful share it, like it, make sure you’re following on YouTube and Facebook and I’ll see you on the next video take care
3 Ways to Improve Forward Head Posture
If your neck slants forward, and your head pokes in front of your shoulders instead of resting directly above them, you likely have what is called forward head posture. This position can strain your neck muscles and load dozens of extra pounds of pressure on your cervical spine, increasing the risk of spinal degeneration.
Forward head posture can lead to several problems, including increased pressure on the cervical spine, muscle overload, and a hunched upper back. The longer forward head posture is continued, the more likely that neck pain, stiffness, and other symptoms may develop. Read How Poor Posture Causes Neck Pain
You can help correct forward head posture over time by practicing these simple habits every day.
See How to Measure and Fix Forward Head Posture
1. Start each morning with chin tucks and chest stretches
A chin tuck exercise is quick and easy to do and it helps strengthen your upper thoracic extensors, the muscles that align your head over your shoulders.
Chin tucks are one of the key exercises recommended to help keep the head aligned above the spine.
Watch: 3 Easy Neck Exercises for Neck Pain Video
- Stand with your upper back against a wall, feet shoulder-width apart.
- Face forward, tuck your chin down, and pull your head back until it meets the wall.
- Hold the stretch for 5 seconds before resting, and repeat 10 times.
See Neck Exercises for Neck Pain
Tight chest muscles can contribute to your head jutting forward. By stretching out your pectoralis major and minor, your shoulders and head may have an easier time staying pulled back and in good posture.
The corner stretch ptovides a deep stretch of the chest and shoulders, which can help maintain good posture. Watch: 4 Easy Stretches for Neck and Shoulder Pain Video
- Face a corner of a room or stand in a doorway. Place your forearms against each wall (or each door jamb) with your elbows slightly below shoulder level.
- Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your chest under your collarbone.
- Hold for up to a minute.
See Forward Head Posture’s Effect on Neck Muscles
Work these stretches into your morning routine. Two minutes at the beginning of each day is a simple investment that can pay big dividends for your posture. Stop immediately if any of these movements cause pain.
See Neck Stretches
2. Set up your workspace ergonomically
It’s easy to hunch your head forward when you spend most of the day sitting in a chair and staring at a screen. Arrange your workstation so that it encourages you to keep your head aligned over your shoulders.
The pacement of your desk, computer monitor, and/or keyboard can be adjusted to help keep your head and neck aligned. Watch Video: 6 Tips to Improve Posture While Sitting
- Raise your computer monitor so your eyes hit the top third of the screen when you look straight ahead.
- Position your mouse and keyboard so when you use them your forearms are parallel to the floor and your elbows are bent approximately 90 degrees.
- Buy an office chair with a headrest so you can keep the back of your head flush against the chair while working.
See Ten Tips for Improving Posture and Ergonomics
If you still find yourself slouching your neck forward, set a reminder on your phone that alerts you several times a day to check your posture.
See Posture to Straighten Your Back
3. Sleep on a cervical pillow
A cervical pillow, sometimes called an orthopedic pillow, is distinctively shaped with the center of the pillow curved inward to better support the natural curves of the head and cervical spine. The goal of the design is to keep your neck neutral rather than flexed forward. You can achieve a similar effect by sleeping on your back with a rolled towel under your neck instead of a pillow.
See Pillow Types to Consider
There’s no clear medical evidence that supports one type of pillow over another, so let personal comfort guide your decision for which pillow to use.
See Pillow Support and Comfort
You won’t correct forward head posture overnight. Commit to these tips and see if you notice an improvement over the weeks and months ahead. If your forward head posture is severe or causes pain, consult a physical therapist who can provide more guidance and options to help improve posture.
Neck Strengthening Exercises
Choosing the Right Ergonomic Office Chair
Yoga for Forward Head Posture
Have you heard of Forward Head Posture (or Forward Head Syndrome)? Unfortunately for many who spend hours a day working at a computer or staring at other device screens, this postural phenomenon is a pressing, and sometimes painful, reality. Colloquially it is referred to as ‘chicken neck’ because essentially your neck and head protrude forward past your shoulders instead of aligned vertically with them, like a chicken.
Typically accompanied by cascading posture problems with hunched shoulders, pelvic imbalance, and a rounded back, Forward Head Posture is a critically important habit to break for many reasons. Think about the force of gravity attracting you to the center of the earth right now, pulling on your entire weight. For every inch your neck and head crane forward out of alignment with your spine, that adds 10 extra pounds of leverage with which gravity’s force can pull. Youch!
The connective muscles, tendons, and ligaments that provide support and stabilization to your spine, neck, and shoulders have to work extra hard with bad posture and become strained, inflamed, and sore. Your upper back muscles weaken and your chest tightens up, drawing your shoulders forward even more and perpetuating the problem when you stand and potentially even when you walk.
So how can yoga help?
On the most foundational level, the mindfulness component of yoga, which makes you more mind and body aware, raises your attentiveness to posture issues and problem areas. The Cat Cow Pose which helps to stretch and lengthen the spine will give you a good indicator of whether your bad posture has resulted in stiff, achy back and neck muscles. Difficulty with drawing the shoulders back in Warrior Poses or aligning the head over the heart in Mountain Pose will make you more aware of your body’s unnatural forward pull. Self-actualizing and becoming painfully aware of each inch of your body during yoga will translate into regular posture adjustments outside of yoga.
Routine yoga practice will also take on the all important tasks of stretching, lengthening, and drawing out the spine. Hot yoga especially aids muscles with becoming more elastic and limber and helps loosen stiff joints. A boost in blood circulation to the back flushes out built up waste byproduct in the muscle tissue, and stretching warm, pliable muscles helps reorganize muscle fibers which became jumbled with prolonged bad posture.
To many people’s surprise, Forward Head Posture isn’t just the result of improper sitting and standing technique, but the sometimes imperceptible and often uncoordinated movements of the entire body from the feet to the hips. Pelvic tilt which comes from crossing your legs when sitting or generally resting weight on one leg when standing can tighten hip flexors significantly. This causes a regular hip imbalance that has a domino effect on posture, pulling on the spine and rippling up through slumped shoulders and a craned neck. Yoga helps you learn how to structurally improve hip flexor flexibility through targeted poses and techniques as well as brings any pronation or gate problems you may have to light.
Neutral pronation, or the natural inward rolling of your ankle and foot as you walk, can be disrupted by foot problems (common for runners, athletes, and dancers) including flat or tall arches, stiff plantar fascia tissue, bunions, or stress fractures. Addressing foot problems that are negatively impacting hip balance and posture might include wearing arch supports, a bunion splint, or ankle braces while completing yoga practice and targeting calf and foot stretches like with Downward Dog Pose or Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose.
Finally, the integration of deep breathing with yoga practice that helps relax muscles and release stress also supports good posture behaviors and helps reverse Forward Head Posture. Try taking a deep, long inhale when you are slouched over in your desk chair. Pretty hard, right? Bad posture places pressure around the thoracic cavity and diminishes lung capacity. The practice of deep breathing with yoga meditation and poses bleeds into a habit of recognizing your own breathing outside of the yoga studio and practicing deep breathing throughout the day. Not only does taking a round of deep breaths help you calm down and focus, but deep breathing physically cues the shoulders to rise and then fall down and back, as well as your head and neck to return to proper alignment.
In addition to back pain, pelvic tilt, and diminished breathing, bad posture like with Forward Head Syndrome can negatively affect digestion, reduce blood circulation, and even impact your heart. Yoga can play one of the most vital roles in reversing your bad posture habit and benefiting your overall health and wellbeing.
Guest Post by Joe from ViveHealth
Fixing Forward Head Posture
Simple (and Comfortable) Exercises for improving posture and some breathing exercises to relax by: Neil Keleher Categories/Tags: Breath and posture
I tend to get forward head posture because I’m in front of a computer a lot.
Things that I notice in myself that contribute to this posture are a sunken chest, which in turn is accompanied by a forward bending thoracic spine, and a head that is both forwards, ahead of the ribcage, and sunken down.
Making it easier to hold good posture
Rather than just trying to hold the correct posture, with head balanced on top of my neck, I practice moving the necessary elements of my body in and out of the desired position so that I learn to feel my body and control it. I can then work at moving my body gradually into a position of good posture with a minimum of effort by feeling it. It then becomes easier to hold good posture (and prevent forward head posture) for longer and longer periods of time.
I still do have a head forwards posture some of the time, but now I find it easier to move into good posture and hold it without too much physical or mental effort.
Exercises for the ribcage and exercises for the neck
The exercise that I do and teach comes in two main parts.
- The first part involves rhythmically moving and shaping the thoracic spine and ribcage.
- The second part involves moving the head and shaping the neck.
Rhythmic movements for Learning Good Posture
The following exercises for improving posture have a rhythm.
I use the word rhythm because when the right movement rhythm is found the movements themselves can feel quite nice, meditative. That means you’ll be more likely to want to do them. In the process you train yourself in good posture and you may find that you can carry the same feeling (from the rhythmic movements) into holding good posture.
Why starting with the pelvis and lumbar spine is a good thing
The basic movement actually starts with a movement of the pelvis.
I start with this movement because generally I find it tends to be a reasonably succesful method that then makes it easier to feel the ribcage.
When I start with a focus on just the ribcage I often find students don’t get it, or take some time to get it.
And so it is easier to simply start with movements of the pelvis (with the added bonus that you increase awareness of your pelvis.)
You also get to mobilize both the lumbar spine and the thoracic spine, and that’s not a bad thing.
An exercise for feeling movements of your pelvis and lumbar spine
So to begin with sit on a firm chair far enough forwards that your back isn’t touching the back rest and with your feet about shoulder width apart and slightly behind the knees.
You can adjust your foot position for comfort, however try to keep the shins vertical when viewed from the front, rather than letting your knees flop out to the side.
Hands can rest on your thighs or if you are in front of a desk or table, on the surface in front of you.
Lifting and lowering your sacrum
Focus your attention on your sacrum and slowly lift it so that your pelvis rocks forwards. Then slowly lower it. So that your pelvis rocks back.
Notice how your lumbar spine bends backwards as you lift your sacrum and how it bends forwards as you lower you sacrum.
Repeat this movement a few times.
Each time, just before you change direction, come to a gradual stop.
Imagine a pendulum that gradually pauses before gradually swinging in the opposite direction. However, make peak speed slower than that of a pendulum.
Adding your chest (ribcage) and thoracic spine
Once you are comfortable with the above basic movement, focus on bending your thoracic spine as well as your lumbar spine.
Then as you do so, notice how your chest lifts and opens as you bend your thoracic spine backwards.
Notice how your chest sinks when you bend your thoracic spine forwards.
Sink your chest fully (then lift it as high as possible)
When you sink your chest, try to sink it fully. Roll your sacrum as far down as possible so that you are fully slumped.
Then slowly sit up and as you begin the back bend of the thoracic spine work at gradually lifting the fronts of your ribs as high as possible.
Focus on the front corners of the ribs and each time you lift the ribs imagine you can lift them incrementally higher.
You aren’t looking for a huge increase. Instead just look or feel for ways you can lift your ribs a little bit higher each time.
When relaxing look for space to sink your ribs deeper.
Taking your spine through a large range of motion
Part of the idea of this exercise is to take your lumbar spine and ribcage through as full a range of motion as possible. Also it is to give you a good feel for these two elements.
Generally the larger a movement is the easier it is to learn to feel the parts that are moving.
Pulling your head back and up
Next it is time to add head and neck awareness.
As you lift your chest pull your head back and up.
Use your ear holes as references
The normal tendency for a lot of people is to lift the chin. Try focusing on your ear holes. Pull your ear holes back and up as you lift your chest. Ideally your head will stay level.
When relaxing the chest let your head sink forward and down.
Using the back of your head as a reference
Another option is to focus on the back of the head, at about the same level as the ear holes.
Focus on pulling this part up and back like someone had hooked their fingers their and was pulling your head back and up.
You could also sit in front of a wall and with your back against the wall as you lift your chest, focus on pulling the back of your head up and back towards the wall.
Work at gradually pulling your head back and up
Try to avoid excessive straining. Instead each time work at gradually increasing the amount you move your head back and up.
And then work at reducing the effort required to do so.
Synchronize Movements for Greater Effortlessness
Once you have a feel for both actions, try to synchronize the movement of your chest and head so that as your chest lifts it allows your head to move back and up.
As your head moves forwards allow your chest to sink down.
Breathing for good posture
You may find that as you pull your head back and up you naturally inhale since you are expanding your lung volume while when you sink your head and chest you naturally exhale.
The next challenge is breathing naturally or easily while holding good posture.
The next exercise is a breathing exercise to help counter forward head posture and to hopefully help you relax if part of the cause of head forward posture is excessive tension.
Belly Breathing for Beginners
Sit in a head forward position with your ribcage sunk down so that your belly is relaxed.
As you inhale expand your belly.
As you exhale pull your belly back towards your spine.
Once you get the basic movement work at making both actions smooth.
What you may find gives you better control is slightly resisting the movement of your belly outwards and then resisting the movement of your belly inwards.
Keep your chest sunk down. This is to make it easier to move your belly inwards and outwards.
Resisting the movements
You can play with resisting both movements and also with just smoothly and gradually relaxing one action as you do the other action. And so as you expand the belly you can focus on gradually relaxing the belly and as you pull the belly inwards you can work at gradually relaxing the downwards pushing element that resists.
Learning to feel your respiratory diaphragm
Once you are comfortable with the basic movement focus on the area at the bottom of your lungs. Try to feel the respiratory diaphragm which supports the lungs and heart from beneath (and from which the liver, stomach, spleen and kidneys are suspended from.)
See if you can feel it pushing downwards to expand the belly and then see if you can feel it being pushed upwards into the ribcage as you pull the belly inwards.
Belly breathing while sitting more upright
Next try the same action but sitting slightly more upright. It may be a little bit harder because you are adding tension to the belly. Eventually work towards practicing it while sitting upright with the head pulled back and up.
An exercise you can play with is to gradually expand the belly as you bend your spine backwards and as you pull your head back and up.
Slightly more advanced diaphragmatic breathing
For this next exercise, it helps to know the difference between your lower belly and your upper belly. If you place a hand on your belly with the pinky side of the hand just above the pubic bone, the part of your belly covered by your hand is your lower belly. The border between lower belly and upper is generally a couple of inches below the belly button.
Controlling your lower belly while breathing
For this next breathing exercise, hold the upright position. Keep your chest lifted and your head pulled back and up. As you begin each inhale pull your lower belly inwards slightly.
Do allow your upper belly and front ribs to gradually expand while inhaling. Gradually relax your lower belly while exhaling.
Note that your upper ribcage and head will move slightly as you breath with this method but that is fine.
Adjusting your breathing
There are several things that you can adjust with this exercise:
Play with the amount of tension you use in your lower belly. Also play with the amount of spinal movement, ribcage movement and head movement you allow while breathing with the suggested criteria of looking for a breathing action that
- feels comfortable,
- is relatively effortless and that
- makes it as easy as possible refrain from forward head posture.
Finding good posture while standing
Once you’ve got the feeling of this type of breath and posture while sitting see if you can find the same “good” posture while standing.
It may help if you stand, to begin with, with knees slightly bent. Once you get the action with knees bent, try it with knees straight.
Check out slouch to zero slouch exercises to fix your posture
Try relaxing your eyes
So that you can refrain from moving into forward head posture while working in front of a computer, see if you can relax your eyes more. Either make the text or images bigger on your computer or just practice focusing from further back. Try to keep your chest open and lifted with minimal effort while balancing your head on your neck, again with minimal effort.
And if you forget, don’t worry about it. Instead take a rest, practice the above exercises and try to carry the feeling with you as you go back to work.
Proprioception made easy
Want more body awareness exercises that you can do while standing or sitting, smart yogi proprioceptive elements includes a series of exercises that you can do while standing or sitting to improve body awareness and posture.
The same slow and smooth rhythmic style of movements are used to improve awareness and control of your spine, shoulders, legs and feet.