I wish I could say: I’ve always had good posture and that it has always come naturally to me. However, this is not the case, as I’ve always had to work at it.
It was at the start of my teens that I started to round in the shoulders. At the time, I was being bullied by a couple of boys who would punch me randomly in the back during some classes. Their punches stung, but the fear of anticipated violence was just as painful back then for me as their behaviour.
Thankfully those days are gone, but the need to protect my heart, has been a hard habit to break. Yet, through my journey into yoga, I now know that good posture, both emotionally and physically, is available for all. It just takes a bit of nurturing to break old habits and a lot of self-compassion, oh and tonnes of patience!
Today I bring to you the first in the series: yoga poses for better posture
We will look at ways to open the energetic heart and encourage the shoulders to relax away from the ears using three upward facing poses.
Remember: with all forms of exercise; please check with your doctor first for suitability and exercise at your own risk.
The following poses are meant to be added to your yoga routine, after you have fully warmed up.
- Cobra- is one of my favourite poses to do after a long day and also to wake up my body in the morning. If you look at the ladies in the picture above and below they have their fingers tips evenly spread and in line with the shoulders. Their hearts are lifted and their bodies are still on the floor. Shoulders are relaxed. They are breathing deeply and have lifted the heart first when coming into the pose. The lady in the blue top below has her elbows too wide. Also, relax your forehead and don’t wrinkle it up like the girl in the red is doing. Coming into cobra, remember to breathe and hold for 5-10 breaths before coming out.
- Upward facing dog– often used as an advanced version of Cobra pose. When doing this pose please build up slowly. When not doing Upward facing pose within sun salutation, the best way to come into it is: lie flat on the stomach. Next, bring the palms down flat on the floor close to the waist. Lift the heart, thighs and knees off the floor. Make sure you are not rounded in the shoulders. Hold for 2-10 breaths and slowly come down.
- Bow pose- Open’s the body up in the opposite direction to how it is when we sit, or worst slouch. What a treat! Never do when pregnant. Lie on your front and bend your legs up behind. Lift the chest and try and hold onto either the ankles or the feet. To start with you will probably only be able to grab the outer ankle, but with time you should be able to get the inner ankle. Lift the legs and chest up.Try to resist sticking the chin up too much.Take 5 breaths and slowly release. Repeat.
Try adding these to your yoga class and use them outside the sun salutations by holding for longer for greater effect.
Big tip: Tension in shoulders may be caused by a combination of poor posture and not breathing correctly. Work on breathing from the diaphragm instead of just the upper chest.
Shoulder tension is also linked with energetically shouldering other people’s problems. Anything that is not yours it is now time to drop.
When improving your posture, you may have some good days and some bad days. Be compassionate. Practice makes perfect. Make sure you breathe deeply and correctly. Reducing stress will help.
See you in part two!
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