Fix Your Posture

Yoga for Posture: How to Improve Your Posture

I am writing this blog to talk about the 6 most important ways that a fitness-centric yoga program helps you improve posture. Before you start reading, I would like to emphasize that the information below does not apply to any type of yoga or any yoga instructor – in order to get the benefits below, the yoga class in question must facilitate the necessary level of stress to provoke growth in the areas responsible for proper posture (i.e. the workout has to be hard enough to build muscle, not just stretch your body), and it should be taught by a knowledgeable instructor who teaches proper technique and constantly reinforces proper body positioning throughout the workout.

This blog has a participatory element. I want you to try something – right now. Don’t move a muscle, don’t change the way you’re reading this. Now ask yourself: What is my posture like at this very moment?

Are you looking down at a phone? Slouched over your keyboard reading a screen? Standing with limited muscle engagement at your stand-up desk? Is your back in a neutral position, or are you rounding forward?

In July 2017, I got on Facebook Live to ask people which of their fitness challenges they hoped yoga could help with, and one of the most common responses was “improve posture” – which happens to be the #1 result of Man Flow Yoga Programs.*

*This stat is based on survey responses from participants of past 4-week Man Flow Yoga challenges. Almost everyone agreed or somewhat agreed that Man Flow Yoga had helped to improve aspects of strength such as flexibility, balance, and core strength, but people were most likely to “strongly agree” with the statement that they had improved postural awareness as a result of the challenge.

This may come as no surprise to you if you’ve already done some of my workouts. (If you haven’t yet, try out the one at the bottom of this page!!!) So much of what we do in the workouts is focused on maintaining proper posture:

  • constantly reminding you to lift up a little bit higher
  • keeping your spine is in a neutral position
  • making sure your shoulders are pulled down and back
  • engaging your core and lifting your ribs away from your hips

But I want to go deeper into the reasons why these workouts are one of the most effective methods out there for improving posture. In the brief list below, I give you 6 specific reasons why Man Flow Yoga workouts are so powerful for improving your posture. Here they are:

1. Increased body awareness

The first and foremost reason why yoga (and I believe, Man Flow Yoga in particular) is so effective at improving posture is because you are being reminded throughout the entire workout that every part of your body, from head to toe, is doing what it’s supposed to be doing in that particular exercise.

You are being given constant reminders to correct your posture, to avoid slumping or getting lazy, and to continually strive for greater depth. This extreme attention to detail develops body awareness, and this doesn’t just end with the workout. When you practice body awareness that intently for a more than just a few minutes, it carries over into everything else that you do, including other workouts, sitting at a desk, driving, and any other activity you can imagine.

2. Improved shoulder and upper-back strength

One of the biggest challenges that people have when it comes to proper posture is the simple reality that their back doesn’t have the strength or endurance to hold their body upright for an extended period of time. You may have the strength to do 10 quick shoulder presses and then set your arms back down at your sides, but can you hold your arms overhead for 2 minutes without struggling?

Chances are that it might be difficult unless you practice that regularly. There are certain postures in yoga that are awesome for building the upper-back and shoulder strength and endurance necessary to hold proper posture for an extended period of time. These exercises in particular include longer-held cobra poses, full locust, dolphin, and backbends in general, not to mention many others.

3. Improved chest and shoulder mobility

The sedentary world we live in kills your shoulder mobility. Whether it’s from sitting at your desk, driving in your car, or watching TV, most of us have shoulders that like to hang out in a rounded position. We also rarely lift our arms overhead or bring our arms behind us, which contributes to decreasing upper-body mobility. In yoga, you do postures that involve simple movements you don’t do on a regular basis that are necessary to maintain this mobility, such as lifting your arms overhead, extending your arms laterally, interlacing your fingers behind your back, and reaching your arms as far as you can behind you.

These movements might not seem difficult, especially if we’re used to lifting weights or other more intense forms of exercise, but they are absolutely essential for keeping your shoulders and chest mobile. Improving chest flexibility, particular in your pectoral muscles, is also a big part of this. Rounding our shoulders causes our chest to get tight, and it makes our chest appear smaller than it really is – which of course sucks for posture and giving off confidence!

Having good posture actually makes your chest look way bigger, without putting on any more chest muscle, by simply framing your shoulders on either side of your torso – instead of your shoulders rounded forward in front of the chest. Just like the development of body awareness, the more body awareness you develop in your shoulders while doing yoga, the more you’ll hold your shoulders in a proper position outside of yoga, giving you better posture, improving your mobility, and making your chest look bigger – without even needing bigger muscles to do so.

4. Core Strength

This is a big one. As it relates to posture, core strength gives us the ability to hold ourselves upright. Without it, you’d be in a constantly hunched position. (Maybe you already are.) Yoga is awesome for developing core strength because your core is active in every posture that you do in yoga. (This is something I constantly reinforce in my instruction so you never forget it!) Full body exercises, balance postures, twists, and backbends are amazing exercises for your core that you won’t encounter as often in other workouts.

There are also certain postures in yoga that involve movements you won’t find in traditional workouts. One example in particular is “boat pose”, which is extremely effective for strengthening your transverse abdominals in particular (the deep layer of abdominal muscle behind your six-pack muscles). I have been an athlete my entire life, have been involved in weight training since I was 15, dabbled in gymnastics, and most forms of fitness you can think of, but I had not experienced anything in my abs like boat pose until I first did it in a yoga class. (Check out a picture and video walkthrough of boat pose below, and try it out for yourself! Make sure to keep your back totally flat.) Yoga also helps to strengthen your abs through backbending exercises, which happens to be my next point.

5. Backbending

As the saying goes – “Healthy spine, healthy body.” Backbending is something that you rarely do in any other form of exercise. You may spend a minute or two doing backbends in an ab workout, but rarely is it something you focus on for an extended period of time. Backbending is an integral part of any comprehensive yoga workout. Backbending done properly is always accompanied by constant core engagement to protect your spine, as well as the continuous push and pull of lengthening your spine while inhaling, and deepening the arch of the backbend while exhaling. The reason why this is so important in today’s world is because of the position in which we usually find ourselves – a rounded, flexed spine.

Most of us spend a minimum of 6 hours per day in this position thanks to sitting in an office or driving, and this has a hugely negative effect on our posture. In order to counter this position, you need to do A LOT of backbending. It’s also important to mention that intensity does not make up for time, meaning that if you spend 6 hours per day in a rounded position, you can’t expect that 2 minutes of intense backbending will successfully counter that 6 hours of bad posture. The only long-term solution (assuming you don’t want to spend 6 hours a day in a backbend) is by making better posture a regular part of your life. Fortunately, the more you practice yoga, the more your body becomes accustomed to backbending, and over time you start to notice your spine naturally gravitating toward a more neutral spine. And this, of course, brings me to my next point.

6. The emphasis on proper spinal positioning

A neutral spine is the position we should strive to be in for the majority of our day, and the only way to do this is through deliberate practice. (Deliberate practice means active improvement. It’s not just going through the motions – it’s pushing yourself to do your best every day, every minute, and every second of each pose.) Many of the postures found in yoga do exactly this, and just like proper shoulder positioning and increased body awareness, the more accustomed you become to practicing neutral spinal alignment in your yoga workouts, the more mindful you become of maintaining that neutral spinal alignment in your day to day life.

That means that if you can make yoga a consistent part of your weekly (I usually recommend at least 100 minutes per week), maintaining a neutral spine becomes something you don’t need to think about – it’s just something your body automatically does.

How to fix your posture with yoga

Most yoga programs have a general full-body approach. They also tend to do a LOT of forward folds, and not enough backbending, which is the exact opposite of what most of us need. Typical yoga workouts also tend to take 60 minutes, which, if you have an hour to do yoga every day is great, but not so great if you have other workouts you want to do, or only 30 minutes to work out. Not to mention, you’re not sure what you’ll get at a studio. You might have an awesome instructor who walks you through every aspect of the pose, tells you what you should be feeling, and constantly reinforces what your body should be doing – but you might also get an instructor who doesn’t spend as much time talking about the physical aspects, and leaves you guessing most of the time.

I want to invite you to test out my newest program – a 12-week program specifically designed to address all of the points mentioned above, to make perfect posture a habit, strengthen your core, upper-back, shoulders, and spine, and help you project confidence.

I’ve been working on this posture program for about a year now, ever since I first hosted my “Beat the Desk” Workshop in Seattle, and it’s available exclusively through the Man Flow Yoga Members’ Area now.

Interested in Yoga But Not Sure Where to Start?

Not ready to make a full investment in a program? Try out my 7-Day Challenge. You’ll get yoga workouts everyday for FREE.Sign-up below to try our 7-Day Challenge!

Signup for the FREE 7-Day Challenge

Introducing: THE POSTURE FIX

Make perfect posture a habit – not just something you practice once a day, but a habit that seeps into your daily life. Workouts start off easy and build in difficulty as the weeks go on. You’ll get a chance to improve and retest yourself on a weekly basis, with enough familiar workouts to measure your progress, and enough new workouts to continually challenge you to improve.

Concerned about time? Don’t worry, I thought about that, too. Fix your posture, build strength and mobility, and boost your confidence in just around 30 minutes per day, with one short and one medium-length workout (one for the morning and one for later in the day).

Combining it with another workout program? Each and every one of these workouts can also be used as a warm-up for your other workouts. Whether it’s for weight training, running, pick-up sports, or triathlon training, you can use these workouts to prepare your body for efficient, injury-free exercise, and a better overall workout.

I’ve also added a few longer supplementary workouts, so if you want to do workouts on off-days, you can!

Here’s what the program will do for you:
  • Help you make good posture a daily, hourly habit
  • Build core strength, improve balance, increase mobility, and make your entire body stronger.
  • Get rid of computer neck or other spine-related back pain
  • Boost your confidence with better posture – other people notice, too!
Here’s what it requires from you:
  • Between 30 – 40 minutes per day, 5 days per week
  • 2 daily workouts – a shorter 10-15 minute workout, and a medium 20 – 30 minute workout
  • 12 weeks
  • Internet access (or not – you can also get download access to the workouts for an additional cost – you then get these workouts for life)
This program is for you if:
  • You work at an office or have a sedentary job, have poor posture, or experience shoulder, neck, or lower-back pain.
  • You’re relatively new to yoga, and want technique-focused instruction
  • You want to strengthen your neck, spine, and shoulders.
  • You want to better posture to feel more confident.
  • You would like to increase your body awareness, build core strength, and improve your balance.
  • You can manage two short daily workouts (one 10-15 minute workout, and one 20-25 minute workout)
  • You’d like to keep up your other workouts, but want to do yoga, too.

Check Out The Posture Fix

The Posture Fix is also available in the
Man Flow Yoga Members’ Area.

Get instant, unlimited access to The Posture Fix, all other workouts, programs, tutorials, and more for just $1 with the 7-Day Trial.

Get Started Today!

If you have any questions, reach out to [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help.Check out a FULL sample workout from The Posture Fix below!!

10-Minute Workout to Fix Posture, Increase Core Strength, and Improve Mobility
Video Transcript
Hey guys what’s up it’s Dean. Today we’re going to go through a quick flow to help with before you sit down for extended periods of time…so this is great for the mornings before you want to work you don’t have a lot of time or if you’re at the airport and you don’t have a you have a few minutes before you board. This would be a great idea.

So we’re to start off in a chair pose feet about six inches apart you don’t need any equipment for this workout…so feet six inches apart, bring your butt straight back bring your arms out. Now work on getting the weight into your hips so you’re trying to squeeze your butt cheeks together, squeezing your inner thighs particularly the upper part of your inner thighs together and really squeezing your glutes so just getting those muscles active because they’re going to be pretty dormant for a while and then I want you to lift your arms overhead as much as you can. Remember we’re not going for that long we’re only going for a few minutes so really push it while we’re here…so the legs are squeezing toward one another the knees are pulling back behind the toes glutes are engaged arms are reaching overhead…so stretching the shoulders and make sure you’re turning the palms to face up or slightly back…give this two more breaths, maybe sink a little bit deeper into it, and we’re really focusing on the muscle engagement here because again we’re not going to be using your muscles a lot in the next few hours, or in a couple hours, whatever you’re sitting for so you want to make sure those muscles get active, get turned on. A little lower one more breath…alright stand back up and we’re going to go into a high lunge, right foot forward left one back squeeze your legs toward one another so squeeze your back thigh squeeze your right heel toward the back try to get your right hip below the left hip so you’re pushing your right butt toward the ground, keeping your left thigh squeezed and engage and squeezing the legs toward one another. Make sure that your hips are centered and bring your arms up into a goal post arms now so now we’re going to work on opening up the chest and you want to lift your ribs up away from your hips while reaching your tailbone down, so making sure that you’re not in your back so you’re bringing length to your lower back you’re keeping the weight particularly in the abs and in the hip area right so not near the knees but all right around the middle of your body and give this a few breaths to…every exhale maybe sinking a little bit deeper, try to push your elbows out wide and squeeze your arms back make sure your arms are a little bit externally rotated so not facing down like this but opening up through the chest…see if you can sink a little bit deeper still squeezing the back thigh and one more breath we’re going to move up into a standing one leg balance..I want you to press down to your right foot bring your left knee up the hip level squeeze your right glute keep your shoulder stacked on top of your ankles and push your left hand into your left thigh so abs are tight and balances are great because they activate so much muscle so as you’re balancing on your right leg focus on pushing down to the heel squeezing your hip tightening the muscles in your right leg but also working your hip flexor in your left leg keep pushing your head up, keep your abs tight go ahead and bring your arm up to because your arm probably isn’t going to be overhead for a while…all right and then one more we’re going to bring your left heel back grab the inside of your left foot bring your right arm straight up inhale and then press into a standing bow, so try to keep your hips above your ankle make sure that your hips aren’t coming out in front, make sure your tailbone is reaching down to protect your spine, even squeeze your hips toward one another, really reach the right arm up and press hard into your back hand so really pushing the left foot hard into your left hand….two breaths here try and lengthen from your left knee to your left ribcage and then go ahead and release and switch sides immediately stepping your right leg back into a high lunge now we want to get the left glute toward the ground so try to sink that left hip make sure you’re squeezing the toes toward your heels so trying to lift that arch on your front foot now squeeze your right thigh to help open up to the right hip sink your hips down just a little bit reaching your tailbone down to get extra stretch through your right hip also protect your spine and again we want to focus the weight in the hip area right so right in the core kind of from the the thigh through the ribs…no tension in your spine because the core is engaged and even squeeze your legs toward one another so the right foot squeezes forward and slightly into it the middle same thing with the left leg squeezing back and then toward the middle and then again arms up into goal post arms slight external rotation and again that’s because our arms are going to be down along our side stopping that overhead so we want to get the shoulders open and get those muscles active in the back, so even pinch your shoulder blades towards one another and use the muscles in your back to stretch the muscles in your chest in the front of your body…use your exhale to sink deeper try to straighten the right leg as much as you can don’t do so at the expense of your lower back though…if you feel like it’s it’s too tight and you’re feeling a little pinching a little discomfort and your lower back ease up and soften the knee. Two more breaths here and you’re just opening up that right hip…all right and then into a standing March hold or standing one leg balance…bring your right knee up to hip level press your right foot sorry right thigh into your right hand make sure the shoulders are above the hips right so we aren’t leaning back or pushing the knee forward and falling over like I just did but standing straight up right…go ahead and bring the left arm up…breathing in and out of the nose keeping it slow and controlled and again focusing on muscle activation so we’ve got the core active we’ve got the right hip active got the left leg active…one more breath here and into the next balance pose so bring your right leg back try to do this seamlessly grab the inside of your right foot make sure your bicep faces out to the side, left arm goes up breathe in….exhale push back press hard into your right hand with your right foot, lift your left arm up reach your tailbone down so try to make the front side of your body longer actually try to lengthen the back side of your body as well so keeping both sides long so keeping height, and then really pushing hard into that right hand so almost treating this like a leg exercise right so pressing hard into that hand almost like you’re trying to move a weight…left arm goes up high…two more breaths here try to keep the hips squared forward opening up to the ribs but at the same time keeping the abs tight to protect your spine…one more breath…and then go ahead and release. All right we’re going to take it down to the ground just a couple more exercises here into a plank…pull your body forward, tighten the ABS lift your bellybutton squeeze your thighs squeeze your hands toward your feet and so I would you can just 10 seconds squeeze your hands toward your feet squeeze your biceps tighten your arms push your head forward press your heels back…five seconds…and then lower down halfway into a half push-up over the low plank and then from here push up into an up dog or take it down to a Cobra so flip your feet press down through your hands pull your body forward turn your biceps to face forward push the top of your head toward the ceiling squeeze your shoulder blades together arch your back but squeeze the legs toward one another to protect your core, lift up and then flip your feet and take it into a Down Dog..so hands are a little wider than shoulder width, bend the knees work on stretching the hamstrings, push your thighs back as much as you can, squeeze your legs toward one another, work on slightly pulling your chest forward so kind of opening up your sternum toward the front of the room…hug your arms toward one another hug the legs toward one another and try to work on your core engagement here so we’re opening up the calves, stretching the hamstrings, getting the shoulders active, and let’s do three breaths here try to squeeze your quadriceps and if your legs aren’t locked out don’t worry about it it’s fine…one more breath here, try to wrap the thighs in push your hips back a little bit more alright then a quick pigeon on both sides…so right knee toward the right wrist crawl the left leg back squeeze the legs toward one another pull the chest up, and really arch the back here so again we want to get the body into positions that were won’t be doing while we’re sitting, so chest pulling up, legs squeezing towards one another so the right knee squeezes toward the left knee and allowing the hips to sink down with the exhale…just one more breath here and then go ahead and switch sides so take it back into a Down Dog, left knee toward the left hand left foot across the body crawl the right leg back keep the chest upright, squeeze the left knee toward the right leg, pull the chest forward and up remember arching the back breathing in and out of the nose and allowing the left hip to open up, you shouldn’t feel any pressure in your knee, if you are feeling pressure than the you can bring the left heel a little closer to the hip, back toward the hips, or you can also put some on the weight into the hands and as that as you start to sink into the stretch as your hip opens up then you can put more weight into the legs again…just one more deep breath here…all right and then from here tuck the toes come back to a down dog just a couple breaths here opening up the hamstrings a little bit more pushing down through your hands squeezing the shoulders toward one another keeping the shoulders firm and strong tighten abs a little more one more breath all right and then take it back up.

And that’s it, all right guys so a quick little flow 11 12 minutes this is great for to do before you sit down for a long time, so you have a few minutes and you’re at the office or maybe you don’t have time for a full workout and you’re about to head into work or maybe you’re going to go for a drive, this is a great little flow for you to do to help negate the negative effects of sitting, so helping you get your chest open, getting your hips open stretching your hamstrings, getting your glutes active getting your arms overhead instead of at your sides that’s going to help with your mobility and help with how you feel throughout the day.

All right guys thanks for joining me today…if you’re watching this in the members area thank you so much for being part of the man flow yoga community…if you’re watching this somewhere else if you’re looking for more work up like this and easily easily to navigate and very convenient location everything in one place with workout programs and very organized the members area is just $1 to check out so you can sign up for a seven day trial for $1 at manflowyoga.com/7-days…thanks again for watching and if you found this useful share it, like it, make sure you’re following on YouTube and Facebook and I’ll see you on the next video take care

Additional Resources

About the author, Dean Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Man Flow Yoga, Author of Yoga Fitness for Men, Expert on Yoga Fitness for Men.

Dean Pohlman is an E-RYT 200 certified yoga instructor and the founder of Man Flow Yoga. Dean is widely considered to be an authority on Yoga for Men. He has worked with physical therapists to create yoga programs for back health and spinal recovery. His workouts and programs have been used by professional and collegiate athletes, athletic trainers, and personal trainers; and have been recommended by physical therapists, doctors, chiropractors, and other medical professionals.

Dean is a successfully published author through DK Publishing (Yoga Fitness for Men), selling 35,000 copies worldwide in English, French, and German; in addition to being a co-producer of the Body by Yoga DVD Series, which has sold over 40,000 copies on Amazon since its release in 2016.

Man Flow Yoga has been featured in Muscle & Fitness Magazine, Mens’ Health, The Chicago Sun, New York Magazine, and many more major news media outlets.

Dean And Dog

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2 thoughts on “Yoga for Posture: How to Improve Your Posture”

  1. Christopher Mazzulli

    Hi Dean,

    May I just purchase the THE POSTURE FIX download access to the workouts without having to be a member?

    1. Hey Christopher – this isn’t currently an option, but we are creating one for it right now and will have an option for it soon. Thank you!

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