The most useful things I have learnt over the years are helpful ways to improve your spinal health. Today I am going to talk about 2 easy actions to practice (both on and off the mat) for better posture.
Knowing what your posture is doing whilst you are flowing through your yoga practice is not easy (unless you could come out of your body and take a birds-eye view of what is going on). 🤣🤣
These two actions make life easier, and if you are an overthinker like me, it makes alignment on the mat a doddle.
So, what are the two actions?
🚀Lift the crown of the head to the sky.🚀
🚀Hug the Core.🚀
LIFT THE CROWN OF THE HEAD TO THE SKY
HOW TO DO IT
- This one is about getting as much length along the spine as you can. We can do this by imagining that there is a helium balloon attached to the top of our head, which is lifting it up towards the sky. Maybe give this a go now. Grab a block or a couple of books and come into a kneeling position, so that you sit bones are resting on the block (see photo above).
- Now imagine that helium balloon lifting the crown of your head up towards the ceiling.
- Can you feel your ribs lift away from your pelvis, the sides of the waist get longer and the distance between the crown of your head and the tailbone lengthen?
- Now try it again whilst in a table top position (all fours).
- The official name for this action, is axial extension and it is good for your spine as it helps to bring space between the vertebrate which releases tension and re-sets the spinal curves in a better position.
HUG IN THE CORE
HOW TO DO IT
- The core naturally engages everytime we exhale. We are just accentuating the action!
- Inhale, and as you exhale, think about hugging the waist inwards towards the spine. Think of closing the waist in from all 4 sides (the front, back and sides).
- Hold this engagement on the inhale and then re-connect more strongly on the exhale.
- Change the intensity according to the support you need for the pose you are practicing. For example, when holding Utkatasana (chair pose) you will need a stronger hug, then holding tabletop.
- When you practise this, it should feel like you are stabilising your trunk, creating a strong centre from which to move.
Putting the Two Together
This is also nice and simple. Simply synch the 2 actions with the breath.
- As you inhale, lengthen up through the crown of the head (axial extension).
- As you exhale, hug the waist in (core engagement).
Now go and try it out whilst you are holding your favourite yoga poses.
Tips for Using These Actions with different postural habits.
The actions are all very well, but how can you use them effectively in relation to your particular posture type?
Well first of all you need to be familar with your own postural habits. If you would like to learn more read my previous blog on how to work out what posture you have. Once you know, read through the following tips and apply the ones which suit your postural tendencies.
- If you have a habit of slumping or slouching forward gently draw the inner shoulder blades together and the bottom tips gently downwards and forwards towards your chest (like you are looping them under).
- If you have a flatter back, think about breathing in some space between the shoulder blades.
- Keep the pelvis as neutral as possible. This simply means, work out if you are a tailbone tucker or tilter. The tailbone always needs to feel like it is lengthening towards the floor like a long dinosaur tail. The frontal hips points will be level with your pubic bone, or another good landmark work with is levelling the sternum with the pubic bone.
- If you stick your bum out, you are a tilter. You will need to curl that tailbone down and maybe visualize curling it under in order to get to neutral.
- If you tuck your bum under then your tailbone is likely to do the same. Avoid curling the tailbone and think more about lengthening it straight down.
There you have it, the 2 easy actions to practice for better posture. I hope you have fun trying them out and as ever do let me know how it goes.
If you would like more guidance why not try my practice video below where I will walk you through a full yoga practice which utilises the two actions.