Recently, I wrote about yoga and posture. I described a cheap way to improve your looks; stand up straight. Then I teased an equally cheap way to improve your health. Ready for it? Stand up straight. That’s right, improving your posture will improve your health. Bold claim Andrew, you’d better back that up.
Let’s begin with your lungs. If you have poor posture, you are giving up a significant portion of your lungs’ capacity. Try a little experiment;
- Assume proper posture
- Breathe in fully
- Close off your airways
- Slump down
- Relax your airways.
That little puff of air you released is lung capacity that you have made unavailable by slouching. The more you slouch, the less lung capacity you use.
Whatever you’re doing, whether exercising or simply sitting at your desk working, that unavailable lung capacity is reducing the efficiency of everything your body is trying to do. In addition, since you’re not even using portion of your lungs, you’re leaving a pocket of stale, dead air in each. This is not healthy.
Try another little experiment. Stand up straight, look up and take a deeeeeep breath. Now slowly breathe it all out, and take another deep breath. Do you feel better? Congratulations, you’ve just learned to do a cleansing breathe and when you sit/stand up straight, you’re giving yourself a portion of that good feeling with every single breath.
What about your visceral health, you know, your guts? When you slouch, it’s not just your lungs being squished, your entire abdominal cavity is too, reducing oxygen and blood flow. This reduces the transport of nutrients to, and removal of wastes from, the cells of your visceral organs. Proper posture relieves pressure on your viscera, improving function and health.
Now for a biggie, one that’s too big to contain in a single post. Pain. As it’s such a big topic, let’s hit just a couple of high points.
Do you suffer headaches or migraines? Well, poor posture, particularly Forward Head Posture/Tech Neck, both causes and aggravates head pain. It does this by constantly stretching the nerves and straining the muscles of the upper back and back of the neck.
And it’s not just head pain. The longer you hunch over your phone, tablet or desk, the more strain you’re putting on your entire spine, from low back to neck. This constant load is causes backaches anywhere from head to tailbone.
How do I know all this? Easy, I suffered it as I slouched through 40 years. And in the years since I stopped slouching, I’ve felt the reverse.
Stopped slouching? I wrote about how I had crappy posture, then I fixed my crappy posture, and yoga played a key role in fixing it.
Last time I challenged you to go people watching. To look at them, consider your impressions of them, and then assess their postures and see if people who stand up straight are more attractive. Now I challenge you to go inward. Stand (sit) up straight. Concentrate hard and don’t cheat. Breathe deeply (it will help because you can’t breathe deeply if your hunched over). Assess how you feel. Be honest. And ask yourself, whatever you might think of yoga, what is it worth to you to not only look better, but to feel better, all the time.
Cross posted at Medium.com