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Straighten Up: 8 Yoga Poses to Improve Your Posture

power of posture - yoga

When I look around and watch people throughout the day, it seems as if good posture is starting to become a thing of the past. Most of us spend our time sitting at a computer with our shoulders hunched forward and our spine compressed, resulting in bad posture.

Good posture has three basic principles: Shoulders back, head up, and belly drawn in. By opening the hips, lengthening the back, stretching the shoulders, and strengthening the core you can obtain good posture on a regular basis.

Yoga is a great way to help reduce the effects of our current sedentary, high-tech lifestyles. By adding the following four poses to your yoga practice, you will feel the gratifying impact of good posture instantly.

One-Legged King Pigeon pose is a deep hip opener that also opens the shoulders and chest.

Sanskrit: Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Step by step:

  1. Beginning in Downward-Facing Dog. Bring your right knee to the floor just behind your right hand.
  2. Lower your left knee to the floor and slide your left leg back. Come onto your fingertips and walk your hands back next to your hips.
  3. Bend your left knee so the toes are pointing toward the sky.
  4. Reach your right arm toward the sky. Bend the elbow, and grasp the left big toe from above.
  5. Place your foot closer to your hip for a gentle stretch and further away for a deeper stretch, lengthen through your spine.
  6. Hold for 30 seconds to three minutes. Switch sides and hold for the same amount of time.

Standing Forward Bend provides an invigorating release, allowing oxygen and blood flow to reverse course.

Sanskrit: Uttanasana

Step by step:

  1. From Mountain pose (Tadasana), ground down into your feet, creating equal pressure in each foot.
  2. Inhale and bring your arms to your sides.
  3. Exhale, drawing awareness to your hips, and begin to fold forward letting your head hang loose, taking deep breaths, allowing a natural lengthening and opening in your spine.
  4. Hold for three to five breaths.

Stretching the shoulders in Eagle pose creates space in your chest, allowing your spine to naturally align.

Sanskrit: Garudasana

Step by step:

  1. Start in Mountain pose (Tadasana).
  2. Inhale and cross your right leg over your left thigh. Wrap the top of your right foot around your left calf.
  3. Draw your right elbow into your left elbow and wrap your arms, allowing your palms to touch.
  4. Hold for three to five breaths and switch sides, creating balance in both shoulders.

Plank pose is a great core exercise for maintaining good posture.

Sanskrit: Phalakasana

Step by step:

  1. Starting on your hands and knees, extend into a plank by placing your feet hip distance apart and stacking your wrists, elbows, and shoulders in a straight line.
  2. Focus your gaze on your mat, keeping a straight line along your spine, and drawing your abdominal muscles in. You can also modify this pose by lowering to your knees.
  3. Holding Plank pose for 30 seconds to two minutes can help tone the abdominal muscles and strengthen the spine, allowing for a firm foundation when sitting and standing.

By drawing a firm foundation from your hands to your feet, this pose can create the perfect foundation for good posture due to its natural lengthening of the spine and hamstrings.

Sanskrit: Adho Mukha Svanasana

Step by step:

1. Begin on your hands and knees.

2. Tuck your toes under and lift up through your hips, drawing your hips to the sky as you lengthen through your spine and legs.

3. Draw energy down into your hands and feet—equally distributing your weight.

4. Hold for three to five breaths.

Through massaging your lower back and belly, Cat/Cow pose releases tension in the spine to allow for a more stable space to work from.

Sanskrit: Marjariasana-Bitilasana

Step by step:

1. Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists, elbows, and shoulders stacked in a straight line and your knees hip distance apart.

2. Inhale as you let your belly sink down and focus your gaze toward the ceiling.

3. Exhale as you round your spine and draw your chin to your chest.

4. Continue flowing through Cat/Cow pose with each inhale and exhale.

5. Practice this from 30 seconds to a minute.

The expansion of the chest and engagement of the core necessary in Cobra pose set the stage for bringing good posture off the mat and into your daily life.

Sanskrit: Bhujangasana

Step by step:

1. Lay flat on your stomach.

2. Bring your hands under your shoulders.

3. Draw your feet and legs together.

4. Expand through your chest, drawing your shoulders back, and engaging your core.

5. Hold for three to five breaths.

By firmly rooting down into the earth, Bridge pose provides a secure space to explore the relationship between the core and hip stability, while lengthening the spine and increasing lung capacity. 

Sanskrit: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Step by step:

1. Lay flat on your back.

2. Draw your feet to the mat, hip distance apart.

3. Lift up through your hips, expanding and opening through your chest and spine.

4. Engage your core. Hold for 3-5 breaths.

Whether you incorporate each of these poses into your routine or just a few, the benefits of strengthening the core and opening the shoulders, hips, and spine will provide profound effects in your overall posture.

Michelle Finerty
Michelle has been writing professionally for over a decade. She started in the business world, focusing on cross-cultural communication and technical writing, and is now infusing the teachings of yoga with modern life, blending two of her and writing. Michelle also teaches yoga. Her classes can be found online by accessing her on-demand library which is updated on a regular basis. Check it out here: