Yoga For Better Posture

 

mary_poormanYears ago I was walking by a store front and saw a woman with terrible posture in the window, head leaning forward, shoulders rounded, back hunched, pelvis tilted…that woman, was ME! It was my own reflection I was negatively observing. The next visual, I feared, would be me with a hump back staring at the ground! Today, because of my consistent yoga practice it takes effort to try and stand with bad posture. Cell phones, ipads, laptops, sitting at a desk, slouching on the couch, stuck in long commutes all can make you look chronically hunch over. Besides the visual unattractiveness of poor posture, it also causes us to feel achy, tight, sore and leads to headaches and back aches. When you hunch forward, the chest collapses and compresses the heart, lungs and diaphragm. Hunching also strains the back muscles causing them to over stretch and become weak. Recent studies have shown that incorporating even just a few yoga poses a day can truly change your posture and your life. In addition to increasing body awareness, yoga strengthens the core, lengthens the spine and opens the chest and shoulders.

 

Here are some simple poses you can try during your day to improve your posture:

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Untitled1This seemingly simple standing pose is actually quite active. Stand with your feet hips distance. Engage all areas of your feet. Bring your shoulders up to your ears then roll them back a bit and drop. Reach the top of your head (crown) to the sky while reaching your fingers towards the earth. Bring your chin back so your ears are in line with your shoulders. Remain here for 5-10 breaths.

 

 

 

Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

forward bendIn this pose you actually feel your spine lengthen.  From your Mountain Pose, slightly bend your knees, and hinge from your hips and fold forward.  Grab opposite elbows (rag doll) and sway around and hang here for a while.  Let your heavy head help pull your spine nice and long (I like to think of one of those plastic straws expanding).  Don’t worry about how straight your legs are – that will come with time.  Release your arms to your shins or ground and try looking up and opening your chest and flattening your back on an inhale. then exhale and fold a little deeper.  Do this 3-5 times.

 

 

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

cobra poseThis pose not only opens the chest and works the spine, but it helps to strengthen the back as well. Lay belly down on the floor or mat. Place your hands under your shoulders. Push the tops of your feet into the ground and engage your quadriceps as you slightly tilt your pubic bone into the mat. As you inhale, gently lift your head and chest off the mat as you bring your shoulders away from your ears and elbows towards each other at the same time keeping the tops of your feet, toes and pelvis pushing into the mat. As you exhale take it all back down and repeat 3-5 times.

 

 

 

Child’s Pose

child's poseWhile this is known as a resting pose, it too is quite active and great for the back, hips, shoulders and spine.  Start on all 4’s.  Bring your big toes together and knees as wide as your mat or wider than your hands if you are not using a mat.  Arch your back into a big cat pose.  Keep this arch as you push your hips back to your heels and stretch your arms out in front of you.  Keeping your belly active and drawn in towards the spine take 5-10 breaths pushing your hips back and hands forward with each breath.
Just as my poor posture developed over time, my good posture has taken time to develop as well. There are so many more yoga poses that will help you, but try these simple ones for a few days and see how much better (and taller) you feel.

 

Mary Poorman is a wife, mother of three awesome kids, yoga instructor and owner of yogaLOFT Milwaukee, www.yogaloftmke.com.

 



I’m Not Flexible Enough For Yoga….

By Mary Poorman

mary_poormanMost of us have given this excuse for not trying yoga or not going back after the first yoga class we have taken…..But really? Saying you are not flexible enough for yoga is like saying you are too dirty to take a bath, or your car is too empty to fill with gas. It’s not logical. You can’t expect to undo years of inflexibility in a couple of yoga classes either. Yoga is a “practice” and for that reason, when not done consistently, it can be a bit difficult. Yes, there are those few who physiologically are born more flexible than others, just like there are those you can put behind a piano a few times and they can play Mozart’s Piano Concerto 27, but for the rest of us we need to learn and practice, practice, practice. As well, yoga is not just about flexibility. It is also about strength, balance and focus.

So you have “ONE” excuse for not trying or continuing a yoga practice, let’s go over the many reasons TO start a yoga practice. The benefits to a regular yoga practice are plenty – but here are just a few:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased muscle strength and tone
  • Improved respiration, energy and vitality
  • Maintained, balanced metabolism
  • Weight reduction
  • Cardio and circulatory health
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Protection from injury

Aside from the array of physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps you manage stress, which we all know can have devastating effects on the body and mind. Yoga helps develop coping skills and taking on a more positive outlook on life.

Yoga is popular that’s for sure, but yoga is not new. It is has been around for thousands of years so it’s clearly not a fad. The increased popularity is proof that many people value a system that engages the mind, body and spirit in equal measure. Will you feel all of these benefits after the first class? Most likely not – once you take a few classes, learn the terminology and get comfortable on your mat, you will start to ease into the practice and feel your body and mind open in ways you never thought they could. If you have never done yoga give it a FEW tries and see what it can do for you.

Mary Poorman – yoga instructor at yogaLOFT Milwaukee, www.yogaloftmke.com.



NEW FALL CLASSES

•FREE GRATITUDE FLOW AND SALE  –  Join us for a donation based class at 9am Thanksgiving morning (please bring in hygiene items)  and Enjoy 20% off 10 and 20 class packs Wednesday through Sunday. 
 
•Mindful Yoga – Wednesdays 7-8pm  – Mindful Yoga blends movement with awareness bringing attention to alignment and breath.  Each class will offer meditation, deep yin poses and a gentle flow.  The ability to combine awareness practice with a physical practice not only deepens your yoga practice, but provides an opportunity to extend that practice to your daily life.
 
•Lunchtime Quickie – Thursdays 12-1 pm  – Got 60 minutes?! Lunchtime Quickie is a great combination of internal heat building through a faster flow that leads into longer strengthening holds.  This class brings you safely into deeper opening and lengthening before healing with breath in savasana and sending you on your way!  Get ready to embrace the second half of your day with mind and body in alignment!
 
•Big Kid Yoga (ages 8 – 12) Thursdays 7:00pm –   This is a great class for school age kids to learn to develop body awareness, manage stress through breathing, build concentration, increase confidence, and build strength, balance and flexibility. 
 
•Youngster  Yoga (ages 5-8) – Mondays 4:30-5:15 – As this is a very playful age, the class focuses on games, imagination, stories, and simple practices to introduce all benefits of yoga. The poses are taught in a way to spark children’s creativity in a safe noncompetitive environment. Each class will end with a short breathing and relaxation to teach mindfulness and reduce stress.  

•Parent-Tot Yoga – Monday and Wednesdays 11-11:45am – Are you too busy chasing your toddler to make time for yoga class? Not anymore! Come stretch, strengthen, relax and gain tips for how you can bring some yoga into your daily life as a parent. Bring your little one for this playful class that will give you a chance to sneak in some yoga, bonding time with your toddler, and meeting other parents.

http://www.yogaloftmke.com/schedule