Even though I’m a full-time yoga teacher, my position also includes time sitting at a desk and working on a computer. I’m also currently six months pregnant which puts a lot of extra weight up front and strain on the back. I just got back from a week long vacation which was perfect, but the time sitting on the plane in those narrow and confining seats really did a number on my spine. We all have something, or even a couple somethings, like driving or sitting all day that can really affect the way we are able to carry ourselves through the world. And that can affect our outlook on life, our mood and our energy level.
One of the keys to fixing our posture issues is awareness.
When we can draw our attention to things no longer working in our lives, the more able and motivated we are to change them. Just by staying present (and compassionate) towards ourselves, we start to notice when we are slouching in our chairs or sleeping in positions that contort our bodies in ways they aren’t meant to be. Once we have that awareness piece, we suddenly sit up a little taller and start to consciously align our bodies for optimal functioning. Of course, we also tend to forget sometimes but we’re human! Forgive yourself and move on. One of my favorite teachers (who happens to teach at WYC – hi Noelle!) says that, “yoga is about forgetting and remembering” which gives us permission to be our fully human selves. When we remember to check in with our posture more and more often, it often starts to become habit which can hopefully lead to a better posture inside and outside of the yoga studio!
Resources to fix posture issues with yoga.
What we want to couple with our awareness is also critically important: movement! More specifically, yoga ‘asana’ or postures. This is our call to action. Sure, we can become aware of and start to change little postural habits here and there, but what we want to focus on from there is how to really put this into actionable steps. Yoga postures both stretch and strengthen the body creating a fluid balance between the two. When we focus our attention on stretching the body, we create space and relieve tension in our bodies. We start to feel better. When we place our awareness on strengthening, we build a stronger foundation and stabilize our bodies. Both of these aspects together create a united front in helping us to feel more aligned and open.
While this post may pique your curiosity about postural alignment and how yoga can help, there is so much more information that I’d like to be able to share with you! I have a few resources that I think you might like ~ the first is an article I stumbled upon in Yoga Journal called Yoga to Improve Posture: Self-Assess your Spine and Learn to Protect It. It was a wonderful read and explains correct anatomical posture (think ears over shoulders, shoulders over your hips and your hips above your knees and ankles as well as natural curves in the spine), poses that can help depending on your particular posture issues (cobra/locust for slumping, lunges/warriors for low-back sway, hero pose for everyone!), and an in-depth look into the anatomy behind it all.
Another resource I’ve found incredibly helpful comes from physical therapist and “anatomy genius” Lara Heimann on Yoga Girl (Rachel Brathen’s) “From The Heart” podcast. This episode in particular is called “Movement as Medicine” and they talk about everything from text-neck to staying well-aligned and injury free, especially while working a desk job. Lara has an amazing ability to really put complex issues into simple solutions for all.
Finally, we have Katy Bowman of Nutritious Movement. Katy Bowman is a biomechanist extraordinaire and author of many informative and interesting books and articles, as well as host for her phenomenal podcast. She primarily focuses on how movement not only affects the shape of our bodies but the shape of our lives. Sounds awesome to me!!
-Taylor Lawrence, RYT500