Perfect Your Posture
As a new mom, breastfeeding, stroller pushing, and carrying Timothy in his bjorn or in my arms, sure has taken a toll on my posture. I have to constantly remind myself to practice tadasana (mountain pose), shoulders down the back, open chest, strong core and engaged thigh and pelvic floor muscles, when I’m standing and walking with him. When I’m sitting and breastfeeding, I try and mimic dandasana (staff pose) in my upper body to keep myself from slouching. As I push the stroller, I lunge my legs forward as if I’m doing a shortened virabhadrasana 1 (warrior 1 pose) so my hips stay square and my legs do the work as my chest stays lifted.
Whether you are a new mom or tied to a desk all day long, these asanas and exercises will help you perfect your posture. If our posture suffers, our mood, breathing, back, neck and shoulders also suffer. Try to incorporate these moves daily and when you are doing your activities remind yourself of the muscles you should be using. It’s important to strengthen the rear deltoids (shoulders), core, pelvic floor, back and thighs; as well as stretch the pectoral (chest) muscles, hip flexors and torso to stay lifted and tall.
Tadasana–Stand with your big toes touching and your heels together. Press your feet firmly in the ground and activate your quadriceps to lift your knee caps up. Engage your pelvic floor muscles and feel your ribs floating up away from your hips. Lengthen the top of your head to the ceiling and relax your shoulders down your back. Keep your chest lifted and open and reach your fingertips towards the floor. Hold for 5-8 breaths. Mountain pose helps us gain perfect alignment and posture. Practice mountain pose throughout the day whenever you feel yourself slouching.
Warrior 1–From Mountain pose, step your left leg back in to a long lunge and turn the outer heel to the mat so your toes are angled forty-five degrees forward. Try and keep your hips facing forward and lift your arms up overhead pressing your palms together. Lengthen out of your lower back and arch in to your upper back. Keep your abdominals engaged and your thighs firm and active. Hold 5 to 8 breaths then repeat on the left side. Warrior 1 helps to open up tight hip flexors and chest muscles. Warrior 1 is a beautiful backbend that allows us to breathe deeper in to our lungs and gain access to strength in our legs to support our upper body.
Dandasana–Staff pose is the mountain pose of seated postures. When you can find access to your core muscles and sit tall out of your lower back, you will have great posture when you’re sitting throughout the day. Sit tall with your feet together lengthened out in front of you. Press your hands firmly in to the floor and lift out of your lower back. Pull your belly button towards your spine, draw your ribs towards each other and tuck your chin slightly towards your chest to lift up through the back of the skull. Hold 8 to 10 breaths.
Seated Rows–Sit tall legs straight out in front of you, wrap the band around your feet. Hold the band in both hands palms facing each other and pull your elbows straight back to your sides. Imagine squeezing a grapefruit between your shoulder blades. Repeat 15-20 reps. This is a great move to do after staff pose since your posture is already lifted and your core is engaged.
Rows with a Twist–hold both ends of the band in your right hand palm facing the body. Pull the band back, elbow alongside your waist, and twist to the right. Repeat 15-20 times. Rows with a twist are great for opening up the chest, strengthening the back and oblique muscles, and getting more lift out of the sides and waist.
Boat pose–Start in a seated position with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lean your upper body back without sinking in to your lower back. Inhale and lift your feet up in the air as you lengthen the out to a forty-five degree angle. Scoop in your lower abdominals and reach your arms forward. Hold for five breaths. Boat pose is an awesome move to help you tone your lower abdominals and transverse abdominals which help support your spine for better posture.
Swan–Start lying on your stomach with your arms by your sides. Lift your torso and legs up off the mat as you lengthen your arms forward by your ears reaching long from fingers to toes. Lower down to starting position. Repeat 3-5 times. Good posture requires strong back muscles, I love this move for toning and strengthening the entire back body.
Lunge with a quad stretch and twist–Start in a lunge and lower your back knee to the floor in to a crescent lunge. Twist towards the bent knee placing your opposite hand inside the front foot. Reach around behind you and catch your back foot to stretch out the front of the thigh. Tight quads, hip flexors and psoas muscles and pull on our lower back creating a rounded spine. It’s important to stretch open the front of the body; and this pose stretches not only the thighs, but also the chest, upper back and waist.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is currently teaching yoga with Peloton. She is the star of over 100 videos, seen in several magazines and tv shows and is a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!