We know that a long straight back is a sign of good posture. We often tell our children to ‘sit up straight’. Here we will explore why there is such an emphasis on lengthening and lifting through our back.
The spine has a natural curvature, there is a slight arch around the lower back and a slight rounding around the upper back, the depth of these arches vary person to person. The spine actually takes more of an S shape than a straight line.
Having a Daily Yoga Exercises are Good to Make Your Spine Healthy
The curvature of the spine becomes more pronounced as we age, this is the natural effects of time. The curvature of our spine tells us a lot about how healthily we age. Imagine a person with a belly protruding out. What does this do to the lower back? The forward thrusting weight tends to pull on the hips and accentuate the back bending arch in the lower lumbar. What happens to the upper back? In order to hold transverse balance and stop the person from toppling forwards the upper back has to compensate by rounding further forwards in order to shift the centre of gravity of the pelvis back.
Try it yourself; exaggerate the arch in your lower back. Feel how your moves forward onto your toes. Then, keeping the lower back arched, round your upper back and droop your shoulders in. Feel how your weight moves back to your heels. You can stay balanced like this despite your poor posture. Now relax, and lift your back upward, lengthening each segment of the back. Feel the difference in space you are creating, this is a sign of good posture.
The same logic holds true for the other way, where the shoulders are heavy and drooping inwards causing the upper back to round. To compensate the lower back ends up arching more to keep balanced.
In yoga, we try to work against the effects of time and age in our body. We focus on keeping a long and healthy spine by stretching. Back bending and forward bending poses keep the spine supple and make us more aware of the movements. Furthermore, we focus on building core strength, it is important the weight is shared around the abdominal muscles to relieve the spine of any undue weight. This helps to balance the weight around the front and back of the body, and along the upper and lower back.
If you’ve been feeling the effects of age on your posture, it’s never too late to start yoga!