Many of us spend hours every day slumped over our desks in offices leaving us with poor posture, tight hips and weak bodies. On the other hand, many of us spend hours on our feet for physical work or parenting also causing strain on our bodies, particularly our lower and upper back, and shoulders.
Furthermore, it’s sometimes difficult to realise when our posture is poor because we can’t see ourselves and oftentimes poor posture manifests in issues such as pain in the lower or upper back, hips, hamstring and knees.
We’ve put together 5 key Yoga asanas to improve your posture and help you feel strong, tall and pain free. We recommend to practice this sequence every day for quicker results.
Nabhidarasana/ Navel gazing pose
Often when we are slumped forward or leaning too much into our lower back it is due to core instability. Our deep core runs up our spine and is super important in keeping us upright. Unfortunately, sitting in a chair does nothing to help our core. If you are new to core strengthening please be kind to yourself as this Asana can feel very strong.
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and soles of the feet on the floor
- As you inhale lift your head, neck and shoulders up and extend your arms
- Straighten your legs so your legs and feet are off the floor
- Point your toes, squeeze your legs together and look at your navel
- Hold for 10 breaths
- Release and repeat 10 times, or if you are new to core work, build your strength slowly and according to your ability
Salabhasana/ Locust Pose
Similarly to Navel Gazing Pose, Salabhasana strengthens our deep core and spine, plus has the added benefit of encouraging our shoulders to move backwards and down. It is excellent for those of us with predominately sitting lives as it encourages new pathways of movement for our posture.
- Lay on your belly, resting your forehead on your hands and with your toes together
- Start to peel your chest forward and upwards, tuck your chin to keep your neck long
- Lift your hands underneath your arm pits, keeping your elbows in towards your ribs
- If this feels strong stay practicing here, or,
- Lift your legs and feet, keeping your legs firm
- Keep your belly and chest on the floor
- If you need to you can move your feet slightly apart
- If this feels strong stay practicing here, or,
- Lift your arms out behind you, off the floor
- Hold fold for 5-10 deep breaths
- On an exhale, slowly release resting your head in your hands and allowing the body to relax
- Repeat 3 times, if you feel confident come into the full posture immediately, or move slowly and gradually
Uttkatasana/ Chair pose
Uttkatasana can feel like a killer, but that’s because it is creating much needed strength in our legs and thighs that supports us in standing and walking. This posture is particularly useful if you have a natural arch in your lower back and perhaps suffer from ‘banana back’.
- Stand with your feet together or a little bit apart
- Bend your knees and sink your hips backwards as though you are about to sit in a chair
- Raise your arms either to shoulder height or above your head, stay here or lift your chin to look up
- Think about lifting your lower belly and curling your tailbone a little bit under
- Press your feet down actively, squeeze you knees and thighs together
- Hold for 5 breaths
- Release and repeat 2-5 times or according to your ability
Virahbradrasana B/ Warrior 2
Like Uttkatasana, Virahbradrasana B strengthens our legs to help us stand and walk tall, however, it also has the benefit of opening the chest and shoulders encouraging us to stand with an open heart, preventing hunching forwards.
- Step your left foot back about one and a half leg distances, turn the foot onto an angle between 90 and 45 degrees. Your back ankle, knee and hip should be in one line and your front heel in line with the inner arch of your back foot.
- Face your right hip toward the left side of your mat
- Bend your front knee so it is directly over your ankle, make sure it does not fall to one side
- Extend your arms, gaze over your right fingertips
- Hold for five deep breaths
- To release the posture take your hands to your hips, gaze forward, step to the front of your mat
- Repeat on the opposite side
This posture is an excellent all encompassing pose to improve your posture. Firstly, balancing on one leg improves core strength which assists in standing or sitting straight and tall. Secondly, the leg position helps to stretch the outer hips and thighs which become tight from sitting too long. Thirdly, the arm position stretches between the shoulder blades to open the chest and encourage the shoulders back and down while standing or sitting. If the leg position is not possible for you yet simply cross your legs as high as you can, and pace one toe on the floor.
- Stand in Tadasana with the feet together or a little bit apart
- Cross your right leg over your left, either hook the foot behind your leg, leave it in the air or rest your toe on the floor
- Cross your left arm over your right, either bring the palms or backs of the hands together, or leave your hands as far as they reach
- Bend your standing leg and sink into your hips
- Move your elbows forwards and up, and your shoulders down
- Think about lifting your chest while sinking your hips
- Hold for five breaths
- Release and repeat on the other side
Finish the sequence in child’s pose for 10 breaths followed by Savasana for 5-10 minutes.
For Yoga postures to soothe lower back pain check out our article '4 Yoga Postures to Soothe Lower Back Pain'. To learn more about Yoga asana and how to move your body and breath with integrity check out the book 'Yoga: Mind, Body & Spirit' by Donna Farhi'.