Standing Tall: A Simple Yoga Practice for a Healthy Spine

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Katie Louvat, RYT, Yoga Loka

Have you ever noticed that half way through your day you start to feel tired, headachy, sluggish and lackluster and have no idea why? The answer could be tied to your posture.

When we slouch our chest collapses making it challenging for our breathing muscles to work efficiently and for our lungs to fill with ease. Shallow and labored breathing can lead to feelings of tiredness, and can have a negative impact on mood and alertness.

In addition, slumping and slouching distorts the three natural curves of the spine, which can lead to tension headaches, chronic shoulder pain, jaw pain, lower back discomfort and more.

With mindfulness and consistency, we can make a healthy habit out of standing and sitting tall. The more we do it, the easier and more natural it will feel. And the added bonus is that we’ll feel healthier, more alert, and experience less chronic pain and stiffness.

The following yoga practice is simple and straightforward. It will help you build the awareness needed to stand tall with grace and ease.

Mountain Pose

  1. Stand with your feet parallel and hip width apart. Notice where your weight naturally wants to fall. Some people carry their weight on the ball of the foot, some sink into their heals, others allow one foot to support more body weight than the other. Use your awareness to distribute your weight evenly across both feet. Now imagine you are sending roots into the earth. Feel grounded and steady.
  2. Bring your hands to your pelvis and imagine it is a bowl. Experiment with tipping your pelvic bowl forward as though you were pouring its contents out in front of you. Notice how this movement increases the concave curve of your lower spine. Now do the opposite, tip your pelvic bowl as though you were pouring its contents out behind you. Notice how this movement causes the concave curve of your lower spine to flatten. Finally, bring your pelvic bowl to a position that feels level and notice how this encourages the gentle, natural concave curve of the lower spine. Gently draw the contents of your belly back toward your spine for additional support. Feel your spine rising out of the level bowl of the pelvis.
  3. Bring your awareness to your shoulders. Balance your shoulders over the bowl of your pelvis. Gently draw your shoulder blades toward each other until you have a sense that the front of your chest and your upper back are evenly wide and broad. Invite your shoulders to release down away from your ears with gravity.
  4. Bring your awareness to your head. Draw your head back until you feel that it is balancing over your shoulders and your pelvis. Allow your chin to drop slightly to bring your line of vision parallel with the floor. Without lifting your chin, continue to lengthen up through your spine and out through the crown of your head.
  5. Bring your awareness to your breath. Invite it to deepen. Remain in this position for a minute or two, observing the freedom and ease of your inhales and exhales while embodying the grounded, steady and peaceful qualities of Mountain Pose.

Mountain Pose Your Way Through Your Day

As often as you can remember, come back to Mountain Pose during the course of your day. Take the posture while you are standing in line on your lunch break; feel your shoulders balanced over your pelvis and your head over your shoulders while you are walking down the street; find Mountain Pose when you are seated at your desk by planting your feet evenly on the floor, drawing your pelvis into a level position, and aligning your shoulders and your head accordingly. Your body and mind will thank you.

Katie Louvat is a registered yoga instructor and has been teaching Hatha Yoga since 2001. She teaches group and private classes at Yoga Loka in Reno, Nevada.

Yoga Loka offers high quality yoga instruction for students of all levels and at all stages of life. Yoga Loka, has been sharing the practice of yoga in the Truckee Meadows for more than ten years. View Yoga Loka’s class schedule at www.yogalokareno.com.

 

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