Can yoga make you taller? Probably not, but it can improve your posture, making you appear taller, although the benefits of improved posture go far beyond aesthetics.
Poor posture plagues as much as 80 percent of the population and experts agree that the ramifications of bad posture are more serious than simply how you look. Sure, slouching can make you look sloppy and less confident, but it’s also a major culprit contributing to back and neck pain.
What does correct posture look like?
The key to good posture is the position of your spine. Your spine has three natural curves – at your neck (cervical), mid-back (thoracic), and low back (lumbar). Correct posture should maintain these natural curves, but not increase them. Your head should be stacked above your shoulders, and the top of your shoulder should be over the hips.
Why is our posture so bad & what does it look like?
Slouching puts a significant amount of pressure on your spine, increasing the stress on your disks, creating low back and neck pain. Thanks to our modern and mostly sedentary lifestyle (think: “tech neck” from looking at smartphones and computers), bad posture is rapidly becoming the norm.
Take a look around, most of us are moving through life just slightly wonky, with our shoulders rolled forward, upper backs rounded, and head jutting out in front of our center of gravity. These subtle misalignments create chronic bad posture and set the stage for more serious spinal issues over time.
How can posture affect my health?
Bad posture should not be ignored as it can actually be bad for your long-term health. When you ignore bad posture, you are putting repetitive stress on your spine and setting yourself up for chronic pain in the future.
Poor posture can contribute to the following:
- Misalign your musculoskeletal system
- Place stress on your spine, making it more prone to injury
- Cause neck, shoulder, and back pain
- Decrease your flexibility
- Affect how well your joints move
- Affect your balance and increase your risk of falling
- Make it harder to breathe or digest your food
How to improve your posture
Luckily, improving your posture is largely within your control and can be addressed with small daily habits, including yoga. Here are some tips for better posture:
- Be mindful of your posture during everyday activities. When standing or walking, pay attention to your alignment and focus on using proper posture as explained above. Avoid “tech neck” when looking at your phone and be mindful of your shoulders rounding forward.
- Adjust your workstation – Ensure your alignment at your desk is good with adequate support for your feet, back, and upper body. When seated, your body should make up a series of right angles which means you may need to use a footrest to bring your lower body into alignment. Check your desk and monitor height to ensure your arms are relaxed and your screen is at eye level, maintaining a neutral neck position.
- Exercise. Any kind of exercise may help improve your posture and keep you healthy, but yoga and other classes that focus on body awareness are especially helpful. Incorporate exercises that strengthen your core and posterior chain to counteract our modern forward-tilting posture.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight can weaken your abdominal muscles, cause problems for your pelvis and spine, and place extra pressure on your low back. Limit or avoid processed foods, drink plenty of water, and exercise daily to help maintain a healthy weight.
Improve your posture with yoga
Yoga is an ideal form of exercise to help create, maintain, or restore better posture. A well-designed yoga program can build core strength, stretch tight shoulder and chest muscles, and strengthen your back which will all contribute to improved posture.
Some key postures to include in your practice are: Mountain Pose, Cat/Cow, Chest Expansion, Bridge Pose, Eagle Pose, and Plank Pose. These postures facilitate body awareness, help open the front side of your body, including the chest and shoulders, stretch and strengthen your back muscles, cultivate balance, and build core strength.
Although yoga won’t make you taller, it can improve your posture which will not only make you look taller but also reduce your chances of having chronic back and neck pain. Grab our “Open Your Heart” Program to see how yoga can improve your posture and your health!