Claire Fountain—celebrity yoga teacher, personal trainer, and wellness expert—founded #TrillYoga with her unorthodox approach to break stigmas and stereotypes in the yoga and wellness space. After getting into yoga for depression and anxiety, she has always been a mental health advocate beyond all her fitness endeavors. She also has an ebook series called Built and Bendy that promotes strength training and flexibility, mindfulness, and leading your health goals from a positive place.
Lately, as I walk around the city, or airports, or just about anywhere, I’ve been noticing a great deal of women with terrible posture. Hunched over shoulders and backs make me very sad! And not jut because I’m a yoga teacher who loves the idea of a strong core and well-aligned spine that is open and relaxed.
Slouched spines can put all sorts of undue pressure on the body. However, posture matters much more than just aesthetically. Here are a few reasons how good posture can affect your body.
Breathing and upper back pain: Good posture makes breathing more easy, and deeper. Slouching compresses the space in the body for breathing volume. This is why in yoga, we have to sit tall to really start to breathe deeply. Full, deep breathes that fill up the whole body are physically almost impossible when you’re chronically hunched over. Deep breathing has been known to heal and calm the nervous system. Slouching also shortens the muscles in the front of the body. Shorter muscles in front mean you can create knots and tension in the upper back and neck as the body tries to compensate.
Confidence and self-esteem: There is something to be said for looking the part when it comes to being confident. Not only will you feel better about yourself when you stand up tall, with your shoulders back, but others will notice this, too. (Not that life is about the crowd, but making a strong first impression is but a part of life and how others perceive us, be it on job interviews or first dates.)
Healthy spine: Back pain is one of the most common issues I hear about with my clients. Often, back pain is the result of over-use injuries, meaning something that is minor but has been repeated time and time again. Sitting for prolonged periods of time, sedentary lifestyles, and poor posture are usually to blame. Correct posture will help strength the structures of the back, and support the back during things we can’t avoid (our office chairs or comfy couches.) A lack of support will put strain on the body, and possibly constrict nerves and other key functions that originate in the spine but radiate out to the body.
Digestion and organs: A compressed body puts unnecessary amounts of compression on organs that need space to function. Poor posture has been linked to indigestion, acid reflex, and even hernias. Just like going for a walk after meals and not being in a seated position can help digestion, so can sitting taller, and standing taller the other parts of the day.
Boobs and body: This might sound petty, but good posture will bring up your breast line and create a more perky and youthful looking chest and appearance. You will also appear slimmer, possibly more fit, and just more comfortable in your skin overall (goes back to the confidence part.) PRO TIP: If your boobs are causing your poor posture, it might be time to be fitted for a new bra that is the correct size that offers the right kind of support you need.
Here are some of my favorite tips for better posture:
- Stand tall and lift the shoulders up, as if you are rolling them back, as you retract the shoulder blades. Imagine that the crown of your head is being pulled up by an imaginary string. Breathe here. With each breath, imagine creating space in between the vertebra, and getting taller and longer. Maintain this shape without forcing it, or feeling rigid. Good posture should be comfortable, not strained.
- Go to yoga, and pay attention to core strengthening, breathing, and cues about posture and form. A strong body will more easily have good posture than a weak one.
- Do wall angels at the gym before workouts or at home. Do core work, such as planks.
- Practice! Set reminders everyday for your posture, so you can catch yourself slouching or before you know you’ll be walking somewhere to remind yourself to maintain good posture.