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Be All That You Are teresa4yoga

Yoga for Better Posture

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If you would like to know more about the spine and yoga to correct posture click on the link

Your posture is a reflection of how you are and who you are. We stand tall when we feel confident, self-assured, slump when we feel low, crane our neck forward to connect with others or round our shoulders when vulnerable. Good posture ensures the forces in movement are directed through the joints in a neutral position with minimal wear and tear. Poor posture and the resulting muscle imbalances cause joint and spinal disc problems and associated muscle spasm as muscles contract in an attempt to protect the overloaded joint. A healthy posture means the chest, heart and pelvis are open giving the organs space to function optimally, blood and lymph flow easily and the spine assumes an ideal S-shape. The subtle energy flows easily through the nadii and chakra system of the body. We feel vital and alive. When the spine is in correct alignment, the vertebrae and discs are nourished by the natural flow of spinal fluid keeping them supple and youthful.

Regular practice of yoga naturally develops greater body awareness and our posture improves as we develop greater flexibility, core strength and confidence in ourselves. We learn to breathe as the body was designed to and take responsibility for our own health and well-being.

Ideal posture (see figure 1) is when an imaginary plumb line runs down the side of the body from the ear lobe through the tip of the shoulder, centre of the thorax, the lumbar vertebrae, the centre of the femur (thigh) bone and knee joint to the lateral malleolus (round bone) of the ankle.

The head is neutral, tilted neither forward or back, shoulder blades lie flat against the ribs, spine retains its natural S-shape curve, pelvis is in neutral and knee joints are in line with the ankle not held locked in hyper extension or forward in flexion, the lower leg is vertical and at a right angle to the sole of the foot.

An S-shape spine has just the right amount of lordosis curve of the neck, kyphosis curve of the mid back/thoracic region, lordosis curve of the lower back and kyphosis curve of the tail bone.

Specific yoga postures can be practiced to correct common postural misalignments.

Kyphosis/Lordosis (see figure 2) Yoga Postures to Help

Increased cervical neck lordosis Tadasana (mountain pose) with neck retraction
Weak neck extensors Neck roll forward to chin and slowly curl up
Tight neck flexors as if rolling a tennis ball from the chest to chin
First two stages of the Cobra, Cat, Fish posture

Increased thoracic kyphosis Alternate arm circles in EBR2*
Rounded shoulders Flowing Eagle Stretch*
Tight chest muscles Warrior 1, Maltese Cross with warm up stretches
Weak Rhomboids Step lift arms warm up for Back with chest open
Weak Lower Trapezius Third and fourth stage of Cobra Charity posture, Bow posture, Camel posture

Increased lumbar lordosis Flowing forward Bend EBR2
Pelvis tilted forward Warrior 1 + 2, Anahata Breath (see below)
Weak abdominals and gluteal muscles Runner, Locust posture, Bridge posture
Tight hip flexors and hamstrings Forward bend, Dog posture, Earth Sequence

Flatback (see figure 3) Yoga Postures to Help

Head held forward of plumbline See Kyphosis/Lordosis posture
Increased cervical neck lordosis

Upper thoracics are rounded, lower As Kyphosis/Lordosis posture
Thoracics are flattened Cat posture, Cobra all 3 stages, Bow posture

Lumbar lordosis flattened
Hips held in extension Dog posture, Warrior 1+2, Crane posture,
Hamstrings are short and tight, Forward bend, Flowing forward bend
Pulling pelvis backward Butterfly posture, Bridge posture
Hip flexors are long and weak Alternate arm /leg lifting in EBR7
Weak gluteal muscles Locust posture, Anahata breath (squat breathe out what you don’t need push arms away,
straighten legs breathe in what you need,breathe in)

Swayback (see figure 4) Yoga Postures to Help
Common in those who slouch a lot

Head held forward of plumbline See Kyphosis/Lordosis posture
Increased cervical neck lordosis

Slight thoracic kyphosis As for Rounded shoulders
Thoracic extensors are lengthened Cobra stages one to three

Pelvis tilted backwards and thrown forward As for Flatback posture plus
Of plumbline, so pelvis sways forward Opening heart and confidence
Hips held in Extension Cat/Lion posture and Warrior
Lumbar lordosis flattened
Hip flexors long and weak
Hamstrings short and tight
Weak gluteal muscles
Knees are held locked back Tadasana mountain posture

Suggested Home Practice to Improve Posture

Good Alignment Stretch: Stand on your toes stretching arms overhead, pulling ribs out of hips, gently lower heels to floor, bringing arms and shoulders down without losing the length through the mid-section of the body.

*Alternate Arm Circles from EBR2: Stand legs apart, knees over feet squat down as you cross your arms in a circle in front of the body lifting them up over head as if you were taking off a jumper, return arms to sides, straighten legs. Repeat with other hand in front each time, breathe in as arms lift and out as they return to your sides completing the circle. Repeat 4-5 times.

*Flowing Eagle Stretch: Squat as in previous exercise. Arms at sides bring them up to heart, palms up, fingers touching, breathe in, turn palms down and push them down to hip level fingers touching, breathe out, lift both arms forward overhead in front of body, breathe in, separate fingers and lower arms to the sides to shoulder level, breathe out, bend elbows and pull hands toward shoulder joint making the eagle mudra (all four fingers curled together to touch thumb), hold as you breathe for 2 breath cycles.
Repeat 4-5 times.

Follow with Warrior 1 posture opening the chest, into Warrior 2 posture and then specific postures from the list above that you may need, finish with Tree Posture or Earth Sequence.