Improving posture is a top priority for almost everyone going into yoga, Pilates, or any other mind-body practice. While you can make major gains by incorporating these classes into your workout routine, bringing postural awareness into your everyday life will increase your results exponentially. You can balance out hours of computer work with these three simple exercises designed to open the chest, strengthen the upper back, and release tension in the head and neck. Try doing these exercises at your desk after lunch—or anytime you need a break!
Spine Twist Seated
Start seated in a chair with your hands interlaced behind your head and feet and knees glued together. Plant your feet into the floor and feel length from your tailbone through the crown of your head. Keeping your pelvis still, rotate your ribs, shoulders, and head over to the right, maintaining lots of length through your spine. Reverse your rotation back to the center, and repeat on the left.
Tip: Keeping your knees glued together helps root your pelvis into the chair and makes you use your abdominals to find rotation.
Seated Back Extension With Arm Circles
Start sitting in a chair, spine long, with your arms extended straight in front of you and palms facing in toward you. Keeping your spine neutral, hinge forward at the hips until your spine is in a long diagonal. Keeping the shoulders away from the ears, draw circles with your arms by reaching them up overhead, then out to the side, and then back in front of you. Repeat 5 more times and then change direction.
Tip: Keep the abdominals engaged by imagining a corset tightening around your waistline the whole time.
Sit at the very edge of your desk or chair, with your feet planted on the floor hip-distance apart. Place your palms on either side of your pelvis, with your fingers wrapping over the edge of the desk or chair. Lift your pelvis off the ledge, taking the weight in your arms and keeping your spine neutral. Once in this position, shrug your shoulders up toward your ears and then draw them down your back and away from your ears, focusing on keeping your chest open and upper back engaged. Repeat.
Tip: Add a triceps press by bending the elbows behind you (as shown), keeping the shoulders down the whole time.