5 of My Fave Yoga Poses for Good Posture

I’ve had several clients ask me recently how to improve their posture. Because we are a society of moving and leaning forward (think habitual movement patterns such as driving, typing on our computers, sleeping with our shoulders rounded over), it’s very common to have bad posture. Although this rounding of the shoulders is commonly called “Mom posture”, I see men with the same problem. The pectoralis major and minor, lats and upper traps are often shortened from these common movement patterns causing rounded shoulders and a forward head posture (upper crossed syndrome) and need to be stretched and lengthened to override the slouching.  The good news is, with consistency there are stretches and exercises that can effectively help open the chest and bring the shoulders back. Plus, straight, tall posture not only helps us look more confident, it can reduce back pain and increase core strength. 

Here are five of my favorite yoga poses to promote better posture and reverse rounded shoulders:

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1. Mountain Pose: Stand with your big toes touching and a sliver of space between your heels. Ground down through all four corners of your feet. Engage your quads and draw your knee caps up your legs. Root your tailbone down to the earth while engaging your core and drawing your front ribcage down. Reach your arms up overhead and lengthen through your side body. Rotate your triceps inwards while simultaneously relaxing your shoulders away from your ears. Hold for 2-3 breaths.

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2. Upward Facing Dog: Lay on your stomach and place your palms underneath your shoulders. Push through the tops of your feet, lifting your thighs off the mat. Push through your palms and lift your chest, engage your belly and lift it off the mat. Pull your shoulders down and back. Hold for 2-3 breaths.

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3. Cobra Pose: Lay on your belly with your feet together and your palms directly underneath your shoulders. Push the tops of your feet into the ground, and, using your back muscles, lift your chest off the ground. Minimize the pressure in your palms and cricket your arms into your sides while pulling your elbows back towards your hips. Hold for 2-3 breaths.

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4. Floor Bow: Lay on your stomach. Bend your knees so your heels come close to your glutes. Keep your knees in line with your hips. Reach back and grab the outsides of your feet. Lift your feet, hamstrings and glutes up towards the ceiling and open through your chest. Rest on the soft part of your belly. Hold for 2-3 breaths and slowly lower.

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5. Supta Badha Konasana with Heart Opener: Place one block on the medium setting and a second block on the highest setting right behind it. Place your head on the block on the highest setting and start the base of your neck on the block on the medium setting. Adjust the blocks as needed. Drape your arms out to the side to open your chest. Place the soles of your feet together. Rest here for 1-2 minutes.