Many of us spend our days sitting down. This habit starts all the way back from when we were in elementary school.
Thanks to technology, it has gotten worse.
As a result, it’s almost impossible to maintain good posture. That’s because when we start to get tired, we slouch. When this happens, our muscles tighten up, while the opposing muscles get weak.
So, to improve your posture, it’s important to stretch and lengthen the tight muscles. At the same time, strengthen the opposite muscles that help keep us upright.
Below, we’ve compiled the 11 best yoga poses for improving posture. They help reverse poor posture and help you develop better muscle balance.
To do so, they focus on stretching these tight muscles caused by poor posture.
- Neck (front muscles)
- Lower back
- Hip flexors
At the same time, the poses help strengthen weaker muscles opposite them.
- Back of the neck
- Upper and mid back
Yoga Poses to Reverse Bad Posture
1. Cobra Pose
Most of us have a slight hunch on our upper backs. We also experience forward neck from all the texting and mobile device use.
To fix that, the cobra pose focuses on your mid to upper back.
This backbend lifts your upper torso off the floor with your hands. In doing so, it helps relieve the tightness in our neck, shoulders, traps, and rhomboids.
The pose is also the opposite of what our upper backs look like when we’re working on our laptops. Thus, helping undo all the forward bending, we’ve done.
In addition to the stretch, we love the cobra because it opens up your chest, shoulders, and abdomen. These muscles are often tight because of our regular posture.
Hold the top of the cobra pose for five slow breaths. Then, slowly lower yourself back to the floor.
2. Bound Locust Pose
In addition to stretching our postural muscles, it’s important to strengthen them.
- Stretching helps lengthen the muscles that have shortened. It also helps relief tension.
- Strengthening, on the other hand, is just as important because they need to get stronger to hold the correct position. Weak muscles tend to give into gravity. This causes us to hunch over when our muscles get tired.
That’s where the bound locust pose comes in.
It is very similar to the superman pose. But, in this case, you’ll be positioning your arms behind you.
Doing so makes it easier to lift your upper body from the ground. It also places less strain on your traps and neck. It also brings your shoulders back into alignment.
The bound locust is super effective in fixing posture problems because it strengthens all your rear muscles. These include your upper and lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
Gaining muscle strength takes practice. If you’re just starting out, aim for holding the pose for 2 to 3 breaths. As you get stronger, move up to 8 breaths.
3. Shoulder Pigeon
Sitting for long periods of time causes our muscles to fatigue. When this happens, our upper backs and necks begin to hunch over.
As a result, it draws our shoulders forward. This tightens them and shortens the muscles holding them up.
To help counter that effect you can do shoulder pigeons. This is a less conventional yoga pose. Nor does it have a long 2,000-year-old history to back on.
But, it’s very effective in opening up tight shoulders and chests.
You’ll be doing this pose on the mat, with one arm extended. Doing so allows you to get a good stretch on your shoulder.
Do the pose for your right and left shoulders, holding for 8 to 10 breaths each.
4. Cow Face Pose
No, this pose has nothing to do with you making a cow face.
Instead, it refers to the what the pose resembles.
The cow face pose is a shoulder and upper back movement. It focuses on drawing your shoulders and upper back into alignment with your body.
In the process, it also stretches your triceps.
This yoga pose is simple. But, it requires a bit of flexibility which not everyone has.
If you can’t extend your other hand behind you far enough to reach it, try using a strap or a towel. Doing so will let you enjoy a good stretch while improving your flexibility in the process.
Be careful not to overdo the pulling. You’re looking for a gentle stretch.
Aim to hold the pose for 8 to 10 breaths per arm.
5. Forearm Plank Pose
The forward plank pose is just like the regular plank so see people in the gym do. It is a core exercise that focuses on stability.
Unlike crunches, it doesn’t involve and contracting or moving. Instead, you hold the pose for time.
The forearm plank lets you focus on body alignment. It also tests your concentration.
The forearm plank pose focuses on core strength. More specifically, your abs. But, it also works your shoulders, lower back, glutes, and legs.
When it comes to posture, both your anterior core (abs) and lower back play vital roles. They balance each other out. Together, help stabilize your mid-section.
This pose not only lets you enjoy good posture it also makes it easier for your upper and lower body to coordinate with one another.
Aim to hold this pose for 8 to 10 breaths.
6. Upward Plank Pose
From the forearm plank, you can transition to the upward plank.
This pose is the total opposite of the forearm plank. So, you’ll be facing up towards the ceiling. And, your hands will hold up your body.
Like the forward plank poses, it’s important to pay attention to proper body alignment. It’s much easier to slouch and droop with the upward plank. That’s because our rear muscles are often weaker than are front (mirror) muscles.
As far as posture goes, the upward plank helps most people more than the forward plank variations. That’s because it focuses on the postural muscles like the rear shoulders, entire back, glutes, hamstrings.
As with the forearm plank, try to hold this pose for 8 to 10 breaths.
7. Bridge Pose
Like the plank poses, the bridge is a strength pose. But this time, you won’t be stationary.
While lying on your back, bend your knees, so they point upwards. Then, lift your hips towards the ceiling.
This movement forces your legs and your entire posterior chain to work. In doing so, it strengthens your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
This motion also counteracts the tightening and shortening of your quads and hip flexors. Often a result of sitting for too long.
Many women love this asana because in addition to improving posture it also tones your booty.
Hold the top of the bridge poses for 8 to 10 breaths.
8. Supine Twist
In addition to backbends and stability poses, spinal twists also help improve posture.
A word of warning though, it’s important not to over twist your spine. That’s because it wasn’t meant to turn very far. Doing so can strain the muscles and ligaments supporting it.
For this pose, you’ll be staying on the floor.
Like the bridge, your lower body will do most of the work. This time, twisting one side then the other.
The supine twist helps improve your spine’s range of motion. This relieves tightness and tension in your upper and lower back. It also helps you turn right and left easily without relying on your hips or neck to do the work.
Hold each side for 8 to 10 breaths.
9. Warrior II
The warrior II pose focuses on alignment and maintaining an upright posture. It also makes you hold your arms out to your sides for time.
Holding the posture forces your upper back muscles, including your traps, shoulders, and rhomboids to develop better endurance strength.
For postural muscles, stamina is more important than power. That’s because they’re meant to hold your structure in place for long periods of time. And this is where this warrior pose helps.
In addition to your upper back, it also strengthens your legs, hips and lower back muscles. This position helps you gain a better foundation to prevent lower back issues.
Aim to hold this pose for 8 to 10 breaths. Make sure to perform it on both right and left sides.
10. Camel Pose
The camel provides you with an incredible back bending pose that stretches your lower back, hip flexors. It also opens your chest and shoulders along the way.
If you look at the pose from the side, it is the complete opposite of your posture when seated down. This makes it very effective in fixing postural problems like hunching over and forward neck.
In addition to the incredible stretch you get, yoga experts believe that doing the camel pose stimulates your neck and abdomen’s internal organs. This helps energize you for your day.
Because the camel pose is difficult to accomplish, it’s important to be cautious when learning to perform it. Here are a few tips.
- Always make sure to keep your neck protected. Don’t over bend it.
- For support, you can start by performing the pose near a wall. This way when you bend back, you head can lean on the wall for support.
- Instead of going straight for your ankles, try keeping your hands on your waist to start. Doing so makes balancing easier. And it lets you control your descent a bit better.
Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute
11. Bow Pose
This asana is called the bow pose because the shape your body makes while performing it resembles an archer’s bow.
While challenging to accomplish, it gives you an incredible stretch.
What makes this pose so useful is that it counters many of the postural problems we get from sitting on our desks for extended periods.
We love this backbend because it not only curves your upper and lower back but also provides a fantastic stretch for your chest, shoulders, and abdomen.
Your thighs, hip flexors, groin, and ankles are also pulled towards the opposite direction they’re usually stuck in, relieving tension.
If you have difficulty getting your hands around your ankles, here are two things you can do to help improve flexibility.
- Use straps. Wrapping a strap around your ankles allows you to enjoy the stretch of the bow pose. It also lets you gradually improve overall flexibility.
- Another option is to place a rolled-up towel or blanket under your thighs. This makes it easier to bend your legs backward so that you can reach them.
Hold this pose between 20 to 30 seconds.