As a certified yoga therapist, nearly all of the painful conditions I see on a regular basis stem from poor posture that could be easily corrected.
Here are five things to remember when you're standing up:
1. Begin at the base.
Imagine there are four corners to your feet. Keeping the feet hip-width apart, press evenly into all four corners with a slight lift from the arches. This lift in the arches is important to stabilize the ankles and unlock the knees.
To help visualize lifting the arches, imagine a small pebble beneath the center of your feet.
2. Square your hips.
Imagine your tailbone has a flashlight at the end of it, and shine the light between the back of your heels.
Lift your pelvic bones up and into your core. Soften your glutes!
Don’t invite unnecessary tension into your posture.
3. Square your shoulders.
We yoga teachers like to tell people to “open their hearts.” Beyond the metaphoric ideal, what we’re saying is to lift the sternum forward and upward and widen your collarbones, then soften the shoulder blades.
Check your lower ribs! If you’re pushing your lower ribs forward, then you’re arching your lower back too much.
Keep your lower ribs hugged into the core while keeping the heart open.
4. Lift through the back of your head.
Remember Alfalfa from the Little Rascals? He was probably best known for having hair standing straight up from the crown of his head. Imagine that you have Alfalfa hair and lift it higher toward the ceiling to bring your eyes level with the horizon.
If you have to look down to see the horizon, lower your forehead and lift up through the back of your head.
Grow three inches!
5. Remember the finishing touches: Breathe and smile!
The most difficult part of correcting posture is overcoming our bad habits. Don’t try to tackle this change overnight. Let it seep into your psyche by identifying a trigger to remind you to think about your posture. For example, decide that when you walk down a particular hallway or when you stand at the sink, you will be mindful of how you're standing.
Within weeks, your posture, and hopefully any associated pain, will improve with lasting results.