Thursday, 19 November 2015

Mindful of your posture

Posture faults creep up so slowly, they often go unnoticed until they are well established. Posture faults however can lead to health problems.  

Firstly there are the physical problems. If your lower back rounds as you sit at your desk or on your sofa, this can lead to back pain, one of the main causes of lost work days.  Slouching also can lead to digestive problems. This is because your digestive organs are compressed so that the movement of food along the digestive tract is impeded. The result?  Abdominal pains. bloating, constipation.  

Do you bring your head forward as you work on your computer?  I often used to catch myself doing this and it may account for the increase in migraines that I experienced earlier in the year.  I am working to remedy this. Holding your neck forward in this way can also lead to tension headaches, neck pain or even TMJ (trimandibular joint problems).  

Most of our everyday activities involve bringing our shoulders forward. Unless we do stretches that counteract this tendency, we may eventually become round shouldered leading to upper back pain. This can also lead to reduced lung capacity as the chest cavity becomes 'squashed' and this in turn can lead to 'brain fog', anxiety, depression (the brain does not like being oxygen deprived), and circulation problems.  

If you are not yet convinced to look to your posture, I will leave you with this thought. Have you ever noticed that when you stand up straight with good posture, you look half a stone slimmer. What an easy way to look good!!!

Two of the best poses for teaching good posture are Tadasana, Mountain Pose and Dandasana, Staff Pose.  

To practice Tadasana, stand with your big toes touching, outside edges of your feet parallel (for most of us this will mean separating the heels). Lift through your instep (try lifting the middle three toes). Lift your kneecaps, engaging the thigh muscles and tuck the tailbone under. Lengthen the spine and lift the chest, feeling the shoulder blades move down the back. The chin should be level with the floor and imagine there is a piece of string coming out of the top of your head drawing you towards the ceiling. Your arms are relaxed by your body and your fingers softly curling towards your palms.

To check your alignment you might want to practice this pose against a wall.  Your heels, sacrum and shoulders should touch the wall (but not the back of your head).  

To practice Dandasana, sit with your legs outstretched.  If you have any rounding in the lower back, sit on a block or cushion.  Lengthen your spine. You can encourage the lift of the spine by placing your hands by your hips and pressing down. Have your feet flexed and the pubic bone rolling down. Again you can check your alignment using a wall. Your heels, sacrum and shoulders should touch the wall (but not the back of your head). Your gaze is at the big toes.  

You may also find the following yoga videos on posture useful. They are located within the 'Anti-aging yoga series' playlist on my YouTube yoga Channel-

Janet x

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