Posture Perfecting Exercises You Can do Anywhere!
It’s my job as a yoga teacher to help people learn how to sit up straight and perfect their posture. We always start class working on sitting up or standing up tall with our shoulders down and back and our abdominals supporting us. I want student’s to find their natural curves and let their spine lengthen from tail to head.
My new book Chair Yoga: Sit, Stretch and Strengthen Your Way to a Happier, Healthier You comes out in January of next year. (TO WIN AN ADVANCE COPY CLICK THIS LINK!) With sitting being the new smoking and slouching becoming even more and more common due to our computers and hand held devices, I’m on a mission to get people moving in their seat and to learn how to sit up straight!
When we have good posture, we look younger, we breath deeper, we feel better and we have a ton more energy. These chair yoga poses will help you strengthen your core and lengthen your muscles so you can sit and stand with ease and grace. You’ll definitely notice a difference after practicing these poses regularly.
Pelvic Tilts and Pelvic Circles–These are great for warming up the lower body and pelvic floor. Pelvic tilts help keep the lower back mobile and circles work the lower spine in a full range of motion. When we free up our lower body and learn to move from way down deep, we can access an internal lift that helps us sit up in a healthy way. Start at the edge of your seat with your feet flat. Arch out of your lower back on an inhalation, then exhale and round your lower back. Repeat 8-10 times. Next, start circling your lower body in a clockwise direction 8-10 times, stop and circle the opposite way 8-10 times. Notice how great you feel after this exercise.
Hands Clasped Behind the Back–Rounding our shoulders really affects our posture and compresses our breath. When you take some time to open up the chest and engage the rear deltoids you can keep your heart center open and your upper body lifted with the tops of your shoulders relaxed. Sit at the edge of your seat with feet hip width apart and clasp your hand behind your back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for 5-8 deep full breaths then release. You can repeat this 2-3 more times immediately or do it throughout the day whenever you feel yourself slouching.
Chair Twist–Twists are great ways to help lift and lengthen our spine. We aren’t used to rotating our torsos; and yet it’s one of the most effective moves we can do to keep our back healthy and core strong. Sit up nice and tall at the edge of your seat and place your right hand on the back edge of the chair and your left hand on your right knee. Try and keep your knees from shifting, engage your core and twist to the right. Hold for 3-5 breaths then come back to center and repeat to the left.
Leg Lifts–When our core is weak, our back and posture suffers. Engaging the transverse (deepest layer of abdominals) is super important for protecting our spine. These leg lifts help teach us how to tap in to our core strength. Sit tall at the edge of your seat and hold on to the base of the chair. Contract your abdominals and lift your feet up off the floor. Hold for 3 breaths then lower the feet back down. Repeat 2-3 more times.
Ankle to Knee–When our outer hips are tight it pulls on our lower back and can cause us to slouch. Ankle to knee stretches the external rotators and buttocks so we can sit with ease and lengthen up out of our lower back. Sit tall at the edge of your seat, cross your right ankle above your left knee. Stay seated here or come forward and rest your forearm across your shin for a deeper stretch. After 5 breaths on the right side, switch to the other side.
Lunge–When our hip flexors and quads are tight, it pulls on our lower back and pulls us forward. Lunges are great for opening up the front body and lengthening the psoas, quads and hip flexors. Sit to the edge of your seat and stretch your left leg back, tucking the toes under and stretching through the front of the left thigh. Press firmly in to the right foot and engage your core. Hold for 5-8 breaths and then switch sides.
A couple of devices you could also check out to help remind you to sit tall:
Lumo Lift–I’ve mentioned the lumo lift before, it’s a posture and activity tracker. You can place it discreetly on your shirt or bra strap even and track your progress on the app. It’s a nice reminder to sit up straight.
Upright–The upright device is meant to help you strengthen your back and core muscles, train your muscles to work efficiently to fight fatigue, and prevent backache and muscular pain. You can train with it at work or home for just 15 minutes a day and track your progress as well on the app.
Do you have any secrets for maintaining great posture? I would love to hear them and I hope all of these tips really help you out!
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!