Each of us have spines with some level of natural curvature. In fact, human spinal columns naturally curve beginning at the head (cervical curvature), under the shoulders (thoracic curvature), over the haunches (lamber curvature), and at the bottom of the spine (pelvic curvature). All four of these spinal curves help to keep us balanced and allow us to walk, jump, and move with ease. However, there are instances when these natural curvatures become too extreme and create more harm than good.
Kyphosis (also known as hyper-kyphosis) involves an excessive outward curve of the spine, causing the back to hunch and the shoulders to round. Lordosis involves an excessive inward curve of the spine, creating an abnormally hollowed back or what’s sometimes referred to as a swayback. Scoliosis involves an abnormal curve of the spine, like the shape of the letter S. There are many factors which can cause these conditions; such as childhood bad posture, a Vitamin D deficiency, or Polio.
Our lifestyles can also trigger an excessive curve, either by the misuse of our body’s capacities or because almost everything we do as humans these days causes us to hunch forward. Consider all the activities you did today. Did you drive to and from work? Read a book? Type out a proposal or a paper for school? Did you prepare meals for your family? Read and answer what felt like thousands of emails?! All of these tasks, which we must tend to day in and day out, require our focus to be directed forward and down. Leaving us perpetually hunched over. Add to that our growing inclination towards bodily inactivity, particularly for those on a career path that begins and ends at a desk. This is a recipe for spinal disaster!
Conversely, for posture and balance to be good, the ligaments should be long and elastic. Now, over time, and with an increase in age, comes a tightening and shortening of the ligaments. But incorrect posture without proper exercise can speed up this process, rendering mobility painful and uncomfortable. In the worst cases, bodies can become completely immobile.
Thankfully, a regular practice of yoga can help to correct your posture. A regular yoga practice coupled with body awareness can go a long way in straightening out the spine. Next time you notice yourself slouching while going about your everyday hunch-prone duties, TAKE A BREAK. Stand up and stretch, move around, and take the time to practice a pose from your “yoga toolbelt.” Need to know what poses to turn to when your workload has your shoulders sagging low? The posture-improving poses listed below are a great place to start!
12 Yoga Poses to improve posture
- child pose
- mountain pose
- standing forward bend
- cobra pose
- hero pose
- locust pose
- bridge pose
- sphinx pose
- upward dog pose
- cow face pose
- tree pose
- warrior I / reverse warrior pose