It’s the end of the workday and you can barely keep your eyes open. Sitting for long periods not only drains your energy, but by the time 5 p.m. rolls around, your neck is stiff, your shoulders are aching, and your back could use a break. But if you’re looking for some relief that doesn’t require you to spend an arm and a leg at the massage parlor, look no further — yoga can help.
If you’ve heard the saying “sitting is the new smoking,” that’s because sedentary lifestyles, constantly looking down at our phone, and the simple pull of gravity are doing harm to our bodies in more ways than one. When your back is constantly hunched forward, you’re not able to breathe fully into your diaphragm, which then causes issues with circulation to your most vital organs! Not only that, but slouching also causes the muscles of the back, shoulders, and neck to work extra hard to keep the body upright, while the muscles in the chest, abdomen, and hips become compressed and tight — leading to more pain, tension, and tiredness. Overall, bad posture doesn’t just look bad — it’s bad for our health, too.
Luckily, by practicing yoga for just a few minutes each day, you’ll see seriously noticeable differences in your posture and facilitate great healing by encouraging the healthy flow of blood and lymph throughout the entire body. We guarantee that with consistent effort, not only will you stand taller and feel stronger, but you’ll be filled with more energy and vitality, too. Scroll through the gallery below for our favorite yoga poses for better posture.
- Stand up straight and tall with your chin parallel to the ground and your hands down at your side, palms facing forward.
- Tuck your tailbone in slightly and draw your lower belly in towards your spine. Keep your shoulder blades rolled down your back so your spine is straight and your chest is open. Make sure you’re distributing your weight evenly between both feet.
- For an added benefit, take this pose against the wall and feel your back press into it as you inhale, encouraging expansion in the diaphragm. The deeper you breathe, the more grounded your body will feel once the exercise is over.
- Stay in this posture for five to 10 breaths.
- From mountain pose, shift your weight to your right foot. Engage your core by pulling the muscles of the lower belly in, and lift your left leg by bending your left knee.
- Grasp the outer side of your left ankle.
- Use your hand to guide your foot to rest along your inner right thigh. Make sure you’re not resting your foot on the right knee! Either place the foot above the right knee on the inner thigh or take the foot below the knee to the inner calf.
- Align the center of your pelvis with your right leg, and use your hands to align your hips.
- You can either keep your hands on your hips or take them in front of your chest in prayer position. Stay in this posture for five to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side.
- Begin in mountain pose and inhale the arms up overhead, and as you exhale, fold down from the hips over your legs with your knees slightly bent.
- Make sure to keep the spine as straight as possible as you lower down, and engage the core and upper thighs, bringing the forehead toward the knees.
- On each inhale, fill your belly up with air. On each exhale, fold a little deeper. Stay in the posture for five breaths.
- From your mountain pose, step your left foot back about three feet, resting on the ball of your foot, hips facing forward.
- Bend your right knee and sit your hips down, tucking the pelvis slightly and pulling the lower belly muscles in.
- On an inhale, lift your arms so that your biceps are beside your ears, keeping the fingers active. Focus on lifting the sternum upward while pulling the lower belly up and in.
- Relax your shoulders by dropping them down away from your ears. Remain here for five to 10 breaths, then switch to the other side.
Tabletop Position (All Fours)
- Come onto your hands and knees, taking a hips-width distance (or two fists) between the knees. Make sure that your hips are stacked right on top of your knees and your shoulders are stacked right on top of your wrists.
- Gaze out in front of you to keep your neck long. You will probably notice your head sinking down a bit here. Press down firmly into your shins and hands and lift the back of the neck toward the ceiling while drawing the crown of your head forward.
- On your inhales, completely fill the belly, ribs, and chest with air. On your exhales, press down firmly into the ground while you draw the lower belly in and the ribs together to engage. Breathe here for five to 10 breaths.
Downward Facing Dog
- Begin in your tabletop position, engaging the core by pulling the belly in and take a deep inhale.
- On an exhale, lift your hips up and back, tilting the hips up toward the ceiling, pressing down firmly into the hands, and reaching the heels of the feet toward the floor, creating an upside-down V-shape with your body.
- If your hamstrings are tight at first, pedal your feet one at a time and breathe space into the tight areas. It is also totally fine to keep your knees bent in this pose.
- Once you find stillness, stay in the pose for five to 10 deep breaths, breathing space into the vertebrae between the head and tailbone with each inhale, and drawing the hips a little higher on each exhale.
- Lie flat on your belly and place your hands right underneath your shoulders.
- Take a deep inhale, then keeping elbows glued to your rib cage, exhale and lift yourself up using the strength of your back muscles. If you only lift two inches off the ground, that’s totally OK! With more practice, your spine will open up and you can lift higher. The key here is to honor where your body is today and breathe space into the tight areas.
- Stay in the lifted position and breathe for five to 10 breaths.
- Lay flat on your belly with your arms down by your sides, palms facing down.
- Tuck your tailbone slightly and bring your legs to touch.
- Take a deep inhale, then on your exhale, lift as much of your body off of the ground as you can.
- Again, you might not come up very high, but breathing where you are will have major benefits for your spine. Keep breathing with everything lifted for five to 10 deep breaths.
- Begin lying on your stomach with your hands down by your sides.
- On an exhale, bend your knees and bring your heels up toward your bottom. Keep hips-width distance between your knees.
- Reach back and grab a hold of your ankles with both hands.
- Take a deep inhale, then on your exhale, pull your ankles gently to lift your chest up and back. You shouldn’t feel any pressure in your lower back. If you do, release your ankles and come out of the pose. If not, aim to fill your belly up on each inhale and lift a little higher on each exhale. Breathe here for five to 10 breaths.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
And finally, we always end our yoga practice with the most important posture of them all: Savasana, or corpse pose. Corpse pose is the ultimate posture for better health and wellness, and it's important that after any yoga routine, we take at least five minutes to allow the benefits of our practice to sink in.
- Lay flat on your back with your palms facing up, extending the legs down long in front of you and arms alongside the body.
- Keep the legs a bit wider than hip-width distance, and let the feet splay out to the sides comfortably.
- Close your eyes and relax deeply into the posture, taking full, deep, belly breaths.
- Stay in the pose for five minutes, breathing deeply and intentionally.