Remember all those times your mom badgered you to sit up straight and tall so you'd have perfectly proper posture? Though you might've dramatically rolled your eyes and proceeded to slouch even more to "prove a point," she was probably just looking out for your health, girl. Paying attention to your spinal alignment is great for your body, but in the name of #adulting and no longer having a parent around 24/7 to remind you to roll your shoulders back and puff your chest out, incorporating a single yoga pose for posture into your daily routine might just be the best and most realistic way to teach yourself to sit up a little straighter each day.
To some, poor posture might seem like a trivial thing to concern yourself with, but it's actually about a lot more than just gaining an inch or two in height. According to Yoga Journal, in the long-term, slouching all the time can lead to health issues like muscle strain, disk problems, and joint pain.
If you make sure to practice mountain pose on the reg, you'll be well on your way to both better posture and improved self-confidence.
First of all, though, let me be clear on something: I'm not saying that standing in mountain pose every day is going to magically give your posture a makeover, or totally revamp the way you feel about yourself. The thing is, yoga is all about bringing more awareness to the mind and body, and the practice gives you the tools to gradually work on ingrained habits, both mental and physical. Becoming aware of when you're habitually hunching over is an important first step in correcting your posture — and mountain pose (or tadasana, in Sanskrit) is the most effective asana to get the job done.
At a glance, mountain pose may look like the simplest pose in the world, but it's actually an important foundation for all yoga poses. According to Yoga Outlet, when you execute tadasana correctly, you'll be engaging literally every muscle in your body, which is far from simple.
Standing tall and grounding your feet into the earth on a regular basis will not only help improve your posture, it'll also begin to reduce any back pain you might have, especially if you spend the majority of your days slouching in front of a desk.
Additionally, mountain pose strengthens your ankles, knees, thighs, glutes and abdomen — all of which help support a tall and aligned posture.
To practice tadasana, begin by standing at the top of your yoga mat, drawing down through your heels and straightening your legs (make sure, though, that you're not locking your knees). Tuck your tailbone in, and draw upward through the backs of your thighs as you start to engage your muscles and your ujjayi breathing. Close your eyes and scan your body, starting from your feet, and slowly working your way up toward the crown of your head. Take note of where you're holding more tension and let go of any bodily stress you're subconsciously housing.
When you get to your shoulders, shrug them up to your ears, hold for a breath, and then let them go. In this newly relaxed state, broaden your collarbone, lengthening and elongating your neck as you do so.
Depending on what feels best for you, you can keep your hands by your sides, or bring your palms pressing together at heart center in anjali mudra. If it's in your practice, and you'd like to add an additional challenge to the pose, you can take your hands behind your back in reverse prayer for a luxurious, deep, shoulder-opening sensation.
Whatever variation you choose, this right here is proper posture. Keep your body here for a minute or two, basking in the silence and stillness enveloping you.
So, how do you feel?