Roll out your yoga mat! These poses will help you strengthen the muscles that cause you to slouch, making good posture effortless.
Think about it: From the time we are in kindergarten to the time we get desk jobs, many of us are sitting for most of the day.
When this happens, it’s almost impossible to keep proper posture and avoid slouching. Over time, poor posture causes some muscles to become overly tight while opposing muscles become weak.
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Muscles that become tight:
- Hip flexors
- Lower back
- Muscles of the front of the neck: sternocleidomastoid and scalene
Muscles that weaken:
- Latissimus dorsi
- Muscles in the back of the neck: trapezius
You can reverse the damaging effects of poor posture with these nine simple yoga poses. They work to release different muscle groups while simultaneously strengthening other muscles.
To do this stretching routine, you’ll need a yoga mat, a yoga strap (or towel), and two yoga blocks. You can do this sequence up to three times per week, allowing for at least one day of rest between each set.
Cobra | 5 breaths
One of the most common signs of poor posture is rounded shoulders, stemming from a tight and shortened chest and a forward head. This pose brings the shoulders and the neck back into alignment while also strengthening the entire back.
- Lie face down on your mat with your toes untucked. Place your forehead on the mat and keep your neck long.
- Bend your elbows and place your palms on the mat next to your ribs.
- Press the tops of your feet into your mat. Inhale to lift your forehead, chest, palms and kneecaps off the mat.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 5 slow breaths, then release on an exhale.
Bound Locust Pose | 8 breaths
This pose draws the shoulders back into alignment and strengthens the entire back, the glutes, and the hamstrings.
- Start by lying on your belly with your forehead on your mat and your toes untucked.
- Interlace your fingers behind your lower back and pull your legs together.
- Keep your neck long as you inhale to lift your chest, feet, and legs off of the ground.
- If you can, lift your hands up off your lower back. Hold for 8 breaths, then exhale to release slowly.
Shoulder Pigeon | 8 breaths per side
This pose relieves tightness in the chest, shoulders, and hips.
- Lie down on your belly with your legs straight back behind you.
- Bring both arms straight out to your side, palms down, so that your wrists are in line with your shoulders. Rest your right cheek on the mat.
- Press into your left palm and roll onto your right shoulder. Bend your left knee and set your left foot down on the floor behind your right leg. The knee should point up and you should feel the hip and chest opening.
- Hold for 8 breaths and then roll back to your belly.
- Repeat on the other side
Cow Face Arms | 8 breaths per side
This pose uses a yoga strap to help to open up tight shoulders, triceps, and lats.
- Begin in a comfortable seat on a chair or on a yoga block. Hold the end of a yoga strap or towel in your right hand.
- Reach your right arm straight up. Bend the elbow and reach your right hand down towards your upper back.
- Reach your left arm straight down. Then bend the elbow and reach your left hand up your lower back, grabbing the other end of the strap.
- Walk your hands towards one another and see if you can get your hands to touch. Hold for 8 breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
Bridge Pose | 8 breaths
Sitting puts quadriceps and hip flexors into a shortened state, often leading to tight and weak hamstrings and lower back. This pose helps to lengthen tight hip flexors and quadriceps while also strengthening the lower back and hamstrings.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground at hip-width distance. Walk your feet as close to your body as you can.
- Place your arms down alongside your body with your palms face down. They should be nearly touching your feet.
- Exhale as you press your palms into the ground to lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
- Hold for 8 slow breaths in and out of the nose, then slowly roll back down to your back one vertebra at a time.
Runner’s Lunge | 8 breaths per side
The pose relieves tight hip flexors and calves while strengthening the core.
- Start in a push-up position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists.
- Pick up your right foot and place it outside of your right hand. Heel-toe it forward and out slightly to bring your right ankle underneath your right knee. Point the toe outward at a 45-degree angle.
- Draw your navel up and in towards your spine and feel your hip flexors releasing. Hold for 8 breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
Downward Facing Dog | 8 breaths
This pose relieves tight hamstrings, calves, lats, and shoulders while strengthening the arms, core, and upper back to help keep your posture erect.
- Start in a push-up position with your hands lined up underneath your shoulders. Spread your fingers wide and press firmly into the mat while engaging your abs and your quadriceps.
- On an exhale, lift your hips towards the ceiling to make an upside down V-shape with your body.
- Press your chest up and back towards your thighs to find length through your lats and shoulders. Make your back as straight as possible, bending into the knees as needed.
- Lower your heels towards the ground to feel a stretch through your calves and hamstrings. Keep your abs engaged the entire time and gaze towards your navel. Hold for 8 slow breaths.
Supine Twist | 8 breaths per side
This pose improves range of motion in the spine and relieves tension in the lower back, upper back, chest, and shoulders.
- Lie down on your back and hug your right knee into your chest.
- Reach your right arm out to the side and cactus it so that your elbow is bent and your palm faces up.
- Use your left hand to guide your right leg across your body to come into your supine twist. Make sure to keep your right shoulder on the ground.
- Close your eyes and hold for 8 breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
Supported Fish Pose | Hold 2-5 minutes
This relaxing pose relieves tightness in the chest and shoulders, reversing poor posture caused by sitting.
- Begin by placing a yoga block at a low or medium height across the top of your mat. Then place another block underneath it at the same height so that it is going vertically down your mat, creating a T. The blocks should be a few inches apart.
- Use your hands to lower yourself down onto the blocks, with the top block supporting your head and the bottom block resting between your shoulder blades.
- Lay with your legs long and your arms resting alongside your body, palms face up.
- Close your eyes and relax for 2-5 minutes.
(Your Next Workout: 7 Soothing Yoga Poses for Sciatica Pain)