Yoga Can Help You Improve Your Postural Awareness
Paying attention to the way you hold and position your body helps you avoid muscle and joint pain and injuries. If postural awareness doesn't come naturally to you, practicing yoga will help you perfect this important skill.
What Is Postural Awareness?
Can you correctly guess the position of every part of your body right now? Like many people, you're probably not accustomed to paying attention to the sensations that happen when you move your muscles and joints.
Poor postural awareness makes it difficult to accurately determine the position of your legs, arms, neck, hands, feet, and back. If you're not aware of these things, you won't realize that you need to straighten your tilted neck or stop hunching over your laptop. As a result, you might develop pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion and flexibility.
Why Good Posture Is Important
Poor posture often causes problems with the bones, muscles, and tissues in your back and neck. In fact, back pain due to poor posture is the third most common reason for doctor visits, according to PostureMonth.org. Slouching when walking or sitting stresses your spine and the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your back and neck.
Issues with posture can affect any part of your body. If you regularly tense your arm muscles or hold your arms or wrists in unusual positions, you may be more likely to notice arm, shoulder, wrist, or hand pain.
In addition to causing pain, poor posture may:
- Stiffen Muscle and Joints
- Limit Flexibility and Make It Harder to Move and Bend
- Cause Headaches
- Change Your Gait
- Interfere with Your Balance
- Cause Muscle Imbalances That Stress Opposing Muscles
- Make It Harder to Take Deep Breaths
- Increase Pressure on Your Stomach and Cause Gastrointestinal Issues
- Keep You From Exercising Due to Pain or Stiffness
Yoga Offers Posture Benefits
Paying attention to your posture and the way you move your body is a crucial aspect of your yoga practice. During a yoga session, you'll focus on the way your muscles, tissues, and joints feel as you move from position to position. Being in tune with small changes in your posture helps you perform poses properly and makes it possible to instantly identify a misplaced leg or arm. Good postural awareness is essential for mastering difficult yoga poses and remaining completely in control of your body.
Postural awareness isn't just helpful for yoga. When you improve your postural awareness, you're more likely to notice that you're slouching at work or holding your head forward rather than keeping it aligned with your shoulders. The skill can also help you pay attention to the position of your feet and legs and instantly make adjustments to prevent balance problems.
Tight muscles or a misaligned spine aren't only consequences of poor posture but may also be the reason that you have posture issues. If your muscles are inflexible or your spine misaligned, you may not be able to keep your body centered. When you practice yoga regularly, you'll probably notice that your muscles become looser and more flexible. Some poses also strengthen core muscles that support your spine and help you keep your back and neck aligned properly.
Maintaining good posture can be more difficult due to aging-related changes to muscles and bones occur. Yoga can help you combat these changes, in addition to improving postural awareness. Women 50 and over who participated in a clinical study on the effects of yoga on spinal flexibility showed significant improvement after 20 weeks of Hatha yoga sessions. The study, published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, revealed that both spinal mobility and hamstring flexibility increased as a result of yoga classes.
The women performed a number of poses commonly included in yoga classes, including:
- Tree Posture
- Downward Facing Dog
- Chair Posture
- Warrior Pose
- Bridge Posture
- Legs Up the Wall Pose
- Bound Angle Pose
- Extended Side Angle Pose
- Pyramid Pose
- Wide Seated Forward Bend
Ready to improve your posture and postural awareness with yoga? We look forward to seeing you at one of our classes.
PostureMonth.org: Why Posture Matters
NCBI: Journal of Physical Therapy Science: Effects of Hatha Yoga Exercise on Spine Flexibility in Women Over 50 Years Old, 2/17/2015
Harvard Health Publishing: Why Good Posture Matters, 1/24/2017
Yoga Journal: Yoga to Improve Posture: Self-Assess Your Spine and Learn How to Protect It, 8/28/2007