Yoga and healthy posture are natural partners.
If you are reading this, then maybe you have been advised to start yoga to improve your posture.
However, what does it mean to have good posture and just how important is it for our health?
Being an alignment obsessed teacher, I am fascinated by this topic. I guess a lot has to do with my personal history.
For years (after my 3 pregnancies), I walked around with what people would call a suboptimal posture. I had rounded shoulders, a forward head, and a huge lower back curve. All of these postural defaults were a result of spending almost 10 years of my life either pregnant or recovering from being pregnant.
You can read up on different types of postural types here if you are interested.
The Spine And Posture
If you are not familiar with the spine, there are 3 main curves, the cervical (neck curve), the thoracic (upper back curve) and the lumbar (lower back curve).
For the back to stay healthy these curves should be of a particular depth and shape. If they move away from their ideal shape, then we can suffer from health issues.
The spine’s shape is designed so that we can stay upright and move around with the least amount of effort (with the force of gravity). When our spine shifts, the body must work harder for us to do this successfully.
When my spine was out, I felt this hard work as pain. I suffered from chronic back pain, sciatica and ongoing shoulder problems – I was very prone to injury around that area too.
Getting out of Pain
Fast forward a few good years (which included my yoga teacher training), I am out of pain and my spine is much better aligned. People will look at me and say that I have pretty good posture (and I do). Coming back into alignment helped me rid myself of all my issues and I no longer suffer from back, neck or shoulder pain.
How did I get back into alignment? Yoga.
Is Posture a Static Thing?
Remember our parents telling us not to slump and sit up straight?
This isn’t wrong but there is more to it than that. The truth of the matter is that posture is not a static thing; far from it.
There is another piece to the puzzle and that is movement. Yoga helped me to fix my postural issues because it is a mind and movement practice. The more you move your body (and get to know how it moves and positions itself throughout the day) the more you can correct poor positioning and holding patterns.
Posture and Movement – the Dream Team
The body is amazing. It is capable of allowing us to be and move in different positions.
The problems start when we stay in one position for long periods of time.
We can see this when we slump over a computer for hours on end (as well as in my case, in the influence of 3 pregnancies on my body shape).
We are a nation that does not move enough, and this is causing havoc to our health and posture.
Yoga, Healthy Posture And Functional Movement
Long term poor movement and postural habits (i.e., slumping) will determine how well you can move your body long-term and will eventually affect your life choices.
Your ability to carry out anything from reaching for something overhead to performing the perfect clean and press is directly affected by your body’s alignment and ability to move.
Try it now, sit or stand up with a long spine and a lifted chest and lift your arm up overhead. Now do it again whilst in your slumpiest posture. How did it go? I imagine that you could get your arm up higher when you weren’t slumping?
Now it is bad enough if you are doing day to day activities but what if you wanted to do something else like weightlifting in the gym, gardening, DIY, a fitness class, or rock climbing. Perhaps you can see how being out of alignment can cause some serious injuries over time.
So, if you want to look good and move well for life it might be time to have a good look at how your own spine (posture) is faring. You can get guidance on what to look for here.
If you notice that you have some permanent changes to your spine shape (i.e., rounded shoulders and forward head for example) please don’t worry. You can change this; it can be reversed.
If you fancy learning just how you can achieve this with the help of some simple yoga tools why not join me in my up-and-coming workshop on 6 November, Dump The Slump.
Book before October 25th and save 15% off the full price of £45😁👍