Recently, I wrote about yoga as an exercise for preventing pulled back and groin muscles. I might have said something about better posture and improved looks. So let’s talk about that because, well, what are looking better and feeling better worth?
For a very long time I had terrible posture. This was nothing which particularly bothered me, right up until, well, until it did. One evening I was watching my middle child brush his teeth and he was slouched over in a perfect miniature reflection of…me. I had spent years exhorting him to stand up straight, but he wasn’t doing what I said, he was doing what I did. And what I did was slouch through life.
I knew it was unhealthy. I didn’t care. I knew it looked terrible. I didn’t care. I knew it made a poor first impression on others. I. Didn’t. Care.
Well, I didn’t care, right up until I did care. Seeing my boys mimicking me made me care, and finally forced me to realize that I needed to learn to standupright.ca (see what I did there?). My solution to that was not confined exclusively yoga, but it yoga was certainly key.
Posture is a mix of strength, stability, mobility, endurance, flexibility, training and habit. If you really want to fix bad posture, you’re going to have to address all of these. Yoga can do much of that, with the exception of training and habit.
Wait, what? Yoga can do that. But Andrew, you’re always going on about what yoga does, not what it can do. Well, therein lies the problem. Some elements of yoga can do wonders for your posture. Some elements can royally screw it. Some elements of posture aren’t addressed at all.
So physically, for those of my particular body type/structure, Bikram Yoga (have I mentioned how much I love Bikram Yoga?) done as described in class will NOT help your posture. In fact, it will absolutely wreck your lumbar spine and hips. Please read that closely. For my body type Bikram Yoga, etc., etc., etc.
Bikram Yoga is best for a body type which I do not possess. In order to continue doing it, I had to learn to make modifications. On the other hand, because her body type is perfectly suited to the practice, Bikram Yoga did nothing but good for my wife.
This is where my Ashtanga Yoga practice came in, with a first rate teacher and modifications based on the work of Dr. Stuart McGill. Bikram “out of the box” was great for my flexibility, and strengthening my legs and groin muscles, but for my posture I had more to learn, and more to do. Long story short, I learned it, and I did it, and I fixed my back and posture.
Along the way I noticed something. Along with the injury/health benefits, posture correction did something else. When you stand up straight, you look better. Sometime, go people watching. Look at them, consider your impressions of them, and then assess their postures. People who stand up straight are more attractive.
In addition, people with poor posture are less healthy. All that hunching over reduces your available lung capacity, and squashes your guts. You don’t breathe as well, you don’t digest as well, you don’t feel as good.
Cross posted at Medium.com