Thing you already know but conveniently forget: Your desk job is silently killing you. Sure, there's the increased risk of cancer, obesity, and heart disease, but there's also the heightened likelihood that your computer situation is turning you into the Hunchback of Corporate HQ.
Angela Leigh, the ACE and AFAA accredited program manager at NYC's Pure Yoga, notes that bad posture from long periods of slouching in a chair often means that people are developing upper crossed syndrome and tight hip flexors (in plain English: a weakened core, overstretched back muscles, decreased spinal flexibility, and overall back and neck pain).
So unless you're investing in a standing/treadmill desk or switching careers for good, Leigh says the best short-term solution for improving posture is trying these 10 yoga poses. Namaste.
The plank pose is a trifecta: a core and back strengthener plus a heart opener. The legs and glutes are fired up, and the belly pulls up to support the back of the body while the sternum bone slides forward. The shoulder blades are in their pockets, giving the collarbones space to smile wide. Keep the neck long as a natural extension of the spine and most importantly...breathe.
This one's a baby backbend with potential for a grand opening of the heart and pectoral muscles. Nestle the shoulder blades together as you lift the belly button off the mat to keep the core activated and the lower back neutral. The tops of the feet and all ten toes press firmly as the knee caps lift to engage the thighs and relax the glutes. This is a great pose to prepare for cobra, a deep backbend later in the sequence.
This is the same setup as the sphinx except the hand print. Place the palms underneath the elbows. Hug and lift the elbows while you snuggle the belly into the back and send the heart forward. Breathe in and breathe out. Each inhale engages while the exhale can expand you deeper into the backbend.
Now that the spine is warm and the hip flexors are ready, we add movement and flow with the backbend. Sit on your heels, place the right hand behind the right foot, inhale, and push into the right hand as you exhale. Lift the hips and left arm to frame the face. Stay for the inhale and as you exhale, unwind to sit down. Prepare for the other side. Flow on the breath. You may place a blanket under the knees if this movement is sensitive.
One of the best ways to promote good posture is to have a strong core. Navasana is an excellent pose to build this support for the trunk. If keeping the legs extended is difficult, bend at the knees or even hold the back of the knees. Keep the heart lifted, eyes forward, and breathe in and out evenly. A little tremble here is a sign of doing it right.
This is a fantastic multidimensional pose to build trunk stability and promote spine and hip extension with rotation. Inhale and send arms up and exhale and set palm down to twist to bent knee.
On an exhale, synch the ribs together and press the hands through the floor as you spread the wings of your back wide. This movement is complemented with the cat pose. It warms up the spine, unlocks the stagnant energy in the upper back, and prepares the body for following poses. This flow also creates more space around the heart, tones the belly, and strengthens the back.
On an inhale, guide the heart through the gates of the arms. Keep the outer hips hugging in and inner thighs rolling back to stabilize the pelvis and support the movement in the upper back. This movement is complemented by the cat pose.
Send the left arm up and sweep the right arm back to meet in the middle of the back. If you cannot clasp fingers, you can use a towel/strap or simply grab your shirt. Inhale and wrap the left tricep forward. As you exhale, move the right shoulder back. Inhale and lift the left elbow higher, and as you exhale, send right elbow lower. Inhale your head into the left arm, and as you exhale knit your ribs together. Keep repeating these actions with your breath.
Sit tall and bring hands to reverse namaste mudra behind the back. Inhale to lift and open heart; as you exhale, press your palms together. If the hands cannot touch, make a fist with your hands and push your knuckles together.