With how much time people spendsitting hunched over atdesks and computers or stuck intraffic on their commutesto and from work, it's no surprisewhen we see a clientwith poor posture. Not only does poorposture lead toback pain that limits a client'sability to perform ordinary daily tasks, it canalso contribute to improper executionof exercises. Here are a few stretchesto incorporate into your programs tocombat poor posture.

Opening poses for pectorals: Tightpecs pull the shoulders forwardand down -- creating the commonly seen "slump."

  • Chest Expansion (seated or standing): Interlace hands behind back. Pull arms back, lift out of the low back and expand heart center towards the sky. Open pecs and breathe deeply into the belly.
  • Bow Pose: Lying face-down on the floor, bend knees, grab onto top of feet and slowly lift front of the body away from the floor. Rise up on a count of ten deep breaths. Do not force or "wrench" oneself into this pose.

 

Strength poses for back muscles: Weakback muscles also contributeto poor posture.

 

  • Spinal Balance: Begin on all fours. Extend left leg, engage left glute and flex left foot. Pull core muscles firm. Extend right arm, keeping head in line with the spine. Take five deep breaths. Switch sides and repeat several times. This pose strengthens all muscles that run along the spine.
  • Tabletop: From a seated position, extend legs. Place palms on the floor near the hips with fingertips spread and pointing towards the body. Place the soles of the feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Press down through hands and feet to lift hips towards the sky. Engage gluteals and continue lifting hips, keeping the body straight.

 

Core poses: A strong core supports ahealthy back.

 

  • Cat/Cow: From hands and knees, stack shoulders over wrists, hips over knees. Round the back to the sky for "Cat," then arch the back, lifting the chin for "Cow." Focus on lengthening through entire spine, not just arching the low back. Keep the abs firm.
  • Seated Spinal Twist: From a seated position, extend legs. Bring the right knee up with the sole of the foot on the floor. Place right hand next to or behind the body and sit tall. Beginning at the base of the spine, rotate to the right, bringing left forearm around to hold right shin. Lengthen the spine with every inhale, twist further with every exhale. Switch sides.

 

Beth Shaw, E-RYT, BS, CMT, is thepresident andfounder of YogaFit. She has beenshowcased innumerous fitness magazines and showsincludingOprah's O magazine, Time, CNN, NBC andmore.Shaw is an animal rights activist andthe innovativeeducator and entrepreneur responsibleformore than 30 DVDs and CDs.

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