Hunching over your computer for extended periods of time, sitting on your wallet and tight muscles are all common causes of poor posture. Poor posture can not only affect how the way you physically feel, it can also cause you to adopt negative or defeatist mental attitudes. By performing specific stretches, you can improve your posture and potentially, your overall outlook on life.
The camel pose helps improve your posture by stretching your spine and opening your chest, according to LexiYoga. Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart. Elongate your spine and align your head and neck with your spine. Lean back slightly to grab your ankles with your hands. Expand your chest and shoulders, lift your hips and arch your back, coming into a back-bending position. Drop your head back and look up at the ceiling. Hold this stretch for 20 seconds, then return to your starting position.
Standing Chest Stretch
This stretch can help you develop better posture by broadening your chest and stretching the tight muscles in your chest and shoulders, according to certified personal trainer Glenn Kent in an article for SparkPeople. Stand or sit with your spine straight and your head and neck in line with your spine. Clasp your hands behind your back and straighten your arms. Raise your arms as high as you can toward the ceiling while keeping your arms straight. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, then release.
A forward neck and head position is commonly caused by tight neck muscles. According to Kent, stretching your neck can help your head return to its natural center, just in front of your shoulders, thereby improving your posture. Sit on the floor in a cross-legged position. Rest your hands on your ankles. Lengthen your spine and look forward. Gently drop your left ear to your left shoulder, holding the stretch for several breaths. Slowly roll your chin down to the center, holding the stretch again for several breaths. Then roll your right ear to your right shoulder, holding the stretch for several breaths. Repeat in the reverse direction, performing this stretch twice.
Seated Forward Bend
The seated forward bend benefits your posture by stretching your hamstrings, calves, neck and back. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched straight out in front of you, feet slightly apart and toes pointing toward the ceiling. Sit up straight, elongate your spine and relax your head, neck and shoulders. Inhale and raise your arms straight up over your head. Exhale and fold forward from your hips with a flat back. Rest your hands on your ankles, shins or thighs. If you are not as flexible as you might like, you may need to bend your knees slightly. Relax your shoulders and breathe deeply. Stay in this position for up to one minute, then return to your starting position.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.