Lockdown has seen a huge increase in a more sedentary lifestyle for a large proportion of the UK. This is having a negative effect on posture and spinal mobility, especially for those sitting for long periods of time in chairs that are not ergonomically designed, as they perhaps may be in their office.
To ensure that you maintain a healthy and supple body, in particular your spine, it is vital to take regular breaks away from sitting to stretch, this will also help to press the reset button mentally not just physically. The more often you can do this, the more body awareness you’ll have and it’ll become a positive health habit. Another really important aspect to consider is how your posture affects your breathing, and if you’re sat down for considerable amounts of time then due to gravitational pull, your quality of breath will suffer as your diaphragm is more restricted which disrupts the space you’re breathing into. This has a domino effect on physical and mental health.
Below are some recommended yoga postures that help to maintain a good posture with extensions and rotations of the spine as well as postures that lengthen out the front of the body including the abdominals, hip flexors and quads as these areas can become compressed which impacts the posture. It’s worth noting that a healthy spine goes hand in hand with a strong core so ensure you’re including daily strength and cardio exercise too.
Upward Facing Dog
Starting prone (lying belly down), forehead resting on the mat with legs extended and top of the feet down on the mat. Place palms down either side of the ribcage with elbows bent and brushing the rib cage. Push through the palms to lift your head, chest and knees off the mat, extending the spine. Lengthen arms keeping a soft bend at the elbows to avoid hyper-extension into the joints. Gaze forwards and relax your shoulders whilst maintaining engagement of the glutes and quads to ensure lumbar spine region is supported.
Twisted Half Lizard
From all fours step your right foot to the outside of your right hand ensuring your knee stacks directly over your ankle. Keep your left palm down on the mat towards the inside of the right foot. Bend your left knee and gently take hold of your left foot. From here, rotate your chest towards the right, opening through the thoracic spine. Looking up and over the right shoulder can help to deepen this spinal twist. If you can’t reach your back foot to hold, use a yoga strap or belt hooked around the top of your foot instead. Repeat the stretch on the left side.
From standing, step your left foot back into a high lunch stance. Ensure your right knee is stacked over your right ankle, you can take a soft bend into the back knee if it feels more comfortable for your lower back. From here glide your left hand down the back of your left leg and lift your right arm up so that it’s in line with your ear, taking a backbend. Ensure your glute are active here to keep your lower back protected from compression. Repeat on the right side.
Starting prone (lying face down with forehead resting on the mat), bend both knees to bring your heels towards your glutes. Reach around with your hands to hold onto the outer edges of your feet. Push your feet into your hands to create a lift of your forehead and chest off the mat. From here, walk your hands around to the arch of your feet and keep your glutes switched on and gaze straight forward. Hold for around five breaths before releasing.
From kneeling make sure knees are around hip-distance apart. Bring hands to the lowers back and start to engage your glutes pushing your hands (and therefore hips) forwards. From here initiate a backbend from your thoracic spine avoiding compression into the lower back. Make sure your hips down start to drop behind your knees. Either stay at this level or progress deeper by holding onto your heels with your hands and then release one arm up and back at a time before bringing yourself back up to your start position. Don’t release your glutes until you are all the way back into your neutral position. To rebound from this sit your hips to your heels and rest your head on the floor in a child's pose.
This post was created in partnership with FLY LDN and Fi Clark @fifiyogagirl, head of Yoga for FLY LDN.