In the digital age, most of us spend hours every day in front of screens, whether smartphones, desktops, or TV screens. And we are often unaware of our poor posture. In the last article, we discussed how yoga can be used to relieve and prevent headaches, and poor posture is one of the primary reasons for headaches. And that’s not the end of the story, bad posture can lead to neck pain, back pain, dizziness, poor sleep, disrupted digestion, and even lack of motivation. These reasons are enough to persuade anyone to sit with their spine straight. Today we will discuss the physiological reasons behind these consequences of poor posture and how yoga can help us make our posture better.
How Posture Affects Our Health
Our spine keeps the entire body in alignment and balance. It is a major part of the central nervous system in our body and facilitates communication between the body and the brain. Slouching and hunching over adds pressure and tension on the spine which can degrade the health of the spine over time. This leads to other bodily functions getting affected which can cause spinal curvature, digestive problems, and more.
Slouched posture after a meal can trigger 'heartburn' which is a burning sensation in the chest caused by acid reflux. Bad posture when emptying bowels in the toilet can foster constipation.
In addition to physiological problems, poor posture also affects one’s body language and in turn one’s confidence and motivation level. Poor posture is associated with low confidence and low self-esteem.
Tips for a Healthy Back
The solution is simple: we must try to maintain proper posture as often as we can throughout the day. Some chiropractors recommend their patients set alarms every few hours to remind them to become aware of their body posture and correct posture. The ideal posture for the spine is called “neutral spine”. Swami Vivekananda, one the most remarkable yogis of the 20th century, describes 'neutral spine' as follows: “hold the spinal column free, sitting erect, holding the three parts — the chest, neck, and head — in a straight line. Let the whole weight of the body be supported by the ribs, and then you have an easy natural posture with the spine straight.”.
Practicing yoga asanas is a great way to improve posture. It improves posture by toning the muscles, developing flexibility and spinal alignment. Regular yoga practice can correct bad posture in three to eight weeks. Here is a tailored list of yoga asanas that are effective when it comes to posture correction:
Yoga Asanas for Improving Posture
1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Tadasana or Mountain Pose helps to keep the spine agile and is known for improving balance and posture. It is the basis for many other standing poses in Hatha Yoga. Additionally, it is helpful for reducing the effects of flat feet and relieving pain caused by sciatica.
2. Bitilasana Marjaryasana (Cat Cow Pose)
Bitilasana Marjaryasana or Cat-Cow Pose is ideal for people with back pain. It is also effective for enhancing balance and posture. Coupled with synchronizing breath movements this asana can help relieve stress and relax one’s body and mind.
3. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or Bridge pose is an inverted back-bending asana in Hatha yoga. It strengthens the spine and reduces strain on the neck. Performing Bridge Pose also helps in developing a strong shoulder which helps in maintaining good posture. Additionally, it also strengthens the calves and thigh muscles.
4. Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
Garuda Asana or Eagle Pose is a standing balancing asana. It stretches the shoulders, upper back as well as the thighs, and hips. It enhances balance and mental concentration.
5. Phalakasana (Plank Pose)
The plank pose, referred to as Kumbhakasana or Phalakasana, is an arm-balancing yoga pose. It strengthens the spine and arms and tones the abdominal muscles.
To learn these asanas from an expert teacher and practice yoga with the aim to improve posture, don't forget to take a look at our schedule for live yoga classes and join in!