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Yoga for Posture

Remember when we were kids, and we were told by parents, teachers, and other adults to “stand up tall” or “sit up straight”? Posture—it make us look taller, more confident, focused and alert (and even thinner)—but there’s a lot more to it than that.

Posture is responsible for the proper alignment of our vital organs and functioning of the nervous system. Poor posture over time creates negative changes in the body. The way that we sit at our desks, stand, and walk all have an effect on our body’s alignment. If we slouch or have bad posture, chronic backaches, neck pain/stiffness, and carpal tunnel symptoms can result over time. Habitual poor posture can even lead to a hunched upper back (known as excessive kyphosis) or a misalignment in the lower back (also referred to as excessive lordosis).

Yoga is an excellent way to improve posture. It also yields other health benefits such as improved circulation and digestion due to the proper alignment of the spine and organs in the body. Taking a yoga class can also help to counteract and heal the effects due to poor posture in the past. This makes yoga the perfect exercise to heal and prevent injuries due to misalignment.

The positions that are practiced in a yoga class help to strengthen the spine. The stretching can help the ligaments and muscles that support the skeletal system. Yoga also builds a stronger core which will also help to support the spine and improve posture. If the core isn’t as strong as it should be, other muscles around it such as the ones in the mid to lower back take over. This puts undue strain on the back. Much of yoga focuses on breath work, which includes sitting up tall and taking in long, deep breaths.

There are many new, exciting yoga classes held at our CNY Healing Arts Centers. Check out our yoga schedule by clicking here!

Syracuse:
195 Intrepid Lane, Syracuse, NY 13205
315.671.5755

Rochester:
2244 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14610
585.244.1280 ext. 2

The Health Benefits of Cat-Cow Stretch

            Cat-Cow Stretch is the incorporation of Marjaryasana (Cat Pose) and Bitilasana (Cow Pose). The two asanas are paired together for a gentle, flowing vinyasa. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, vinyasa is defined as “breath-synchronized movement.” If you practice Vinyasa Yoga, you will move from one pose to the next as you inhale or exhale; that is, your movements will match your breathing.

Getting Into Cat-Cow:

Begin on your hands and knees in Table Pose. Your hips should be set directly over your knees and your shoulders, elbows, and wrists should be in line and perpendicular to the floor. Keep your back straight (like a tabletop) and your spine in a neutral position. Let your neck be long and your eyes soft, looking at the floor. Stabilize your shoulder blades by drawing them down your back.

Once you have established Table Pose, move into Cow Pose. As you inhale, simultaneously lift your sit bones upward, press your chest forward, and allow your belly to sink towards the floor. Lift your head, relax your shoulders away from your ears, and gaze straight ahead.

As you exhale, come into Cat Pose. Simultaneously round your spine outward, tuck your tailbone, and draw your pubic bone forward. Release your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest. Note: if you have a neck injury, keep your head in line with your torso throughout Cat-Cow.

Go back and forth between Cow and Cat on each inhale and exhale, matching your movements to your own breathing. Do this for 5-10 breaths and try to keep an even distribution of weight between your hands and knees. After your final exhale, end the stretch in Table Pose.

Benefits of Cat-Cow:

  • Improves posture and balance
  • Strengthens and stretches the spine and neck
  • Stretches the hips, abdomen and back
  • Increases coordination
  • Massages and stimulates organs in the belly, like the kidneys and adrenal glands
  • Creates emotional balance
  • Relieves stress and calms the mind