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Health: 5 Yoga Poses To Improve Posture

And Correct Rounded Shoulders
by Mollie Twohig

 Mollie Twohig

A few weeks ago, I looked in the mirror. I stood sideways sizing up my postpartum tummy, wondering if it might have miraculously flattened a bit overnight. My eyes drifted up to my nursing-padded boobs, mommy-muscle-arms, and then my shoulders. What the? When did my shoulders round forward so much? Didn't they used to be pulled back more, and didn't I stand up much straighter?! The answer is yes, most definitely. Yes, five months of cradled breastfeeding, 5-S's swinging, Skip Hop play-matting, hunched baby stepping, and gentle placement into and extraction from the Mamaroo, Rock n Play, and Jumperoo had taken its toll.

But not to fear, yoga is here. Over the past few weeks, I've incorporated the following five heart (chest) opening yoga poses into my daily routine, and I'm already feeling taller again and my shoulders are less rounded. You can do these poses right where your baby is tummy-timing and playing, and they don't take too much time. If you stand sideways in a mirror, and notice that you can see more of your scapulae (shoulder blades) than pre-baby, then you likely have upper cross syndrome " the fancy way of saying having a weak back and tight chest muscles " and I encourage you try to make these poses a part of your day as well.

1. Camel Pose: This is by far my favorite, and it helps stretch the chest, quads, abs, hip flexors, and increases spinal flexibility. Begin by kneeling upright, with your knees hip width apart. Place your hands on your back hips, fingers pointed downwards, and lean back. If you"re not too flexible, you can stay here, or you can take it deeper, and place your hands on your heels while lifting through your pelvis. Hold for 30 seconds, inhaling and exhaling deeply.

camel pose yoga fitness health in shape

2. Cobra Pose: This pose strengthens your back and arms and stretches your chest, shoulders, and abs. Begin my lying on your stomach with your palms under your shoulders and elbows tucked in close to your body. Press into your hands, lengthening your arms to raise your chest as you inhale. Keep your shoulders back and down and don't let your pelvic bone leave the floor. Hold for 30 seconds, breathing with ease.

cobra pose yoga fitness health in shape

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3. Lunge Twist: This pose opens the chest and shoulders, while also strengthening the legs. Begin in downward facing dog, and then step your right foot forward between your hands into lunge position. Keep your left hand on the floor and twist your body, extending your right arm towards the ceiling. Look up and stretch your fingers long, twisting deeper. Hold for 30 seconds, inhaling and exhaling comfortably.

lunge twist yoga fitness health in shape

4. Bridge pose: This pose opens the heart and chest and improves spinal flexibility. Lie on your back and bend your knees so that your feet are close to your buttocks, keeping them hip distance apart. Bridge up lifting your hips towards the ceiling. Interlace your fingers, and press your arms down into the mat. Roll your shoulders back and under your body and lift hips upwards even more. Lift your chest towards your chin, holding for 30 seconds.

bridge pose yoga fitness health in shape

5. Yoga ball stretch: Remember that yoga ball that you might have bought to labor on or bounce your colicky newborn to sleep? Well it's time to use it for a nice relaxing stretch. Simply sit on the ball and roll back so that you are lying down. Spread your arms out wide and them hang as you take 10-15 long deep breathes for yourself. Feel your chest lift and heart open up wide. Focus on letting any stress, fatigue, and negative energy roll off your shoulders and away. Slowly roll back up to a seated position and repeat several times (or until your little one wants Itsy Bitsy Spider mimed out!).

yoga ball stretch yoga fitness health in shape

Beyond these poses, the age-old lesson from your own mom holds: sit up straight, keep your shoulders back, and chin up.

Namaste!

Related Article: 10 of the Best Prenatal Workouts

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