by Sandra Genoveva Taylor
When I talk about yoga, people think of it as something we practice to improve our fitness and wellbeing, but yoga is more than that. It is a lifestyle in itself. And of all the benefits of yoga, improving posture is one of the greatest.
Why is posture so important?
Posture reflects how our inner and outer worlds are working for us, and reveals the relationship we have with it all. Our posture is our blueprint in space. We can sometimes recognise people at a distance, not by their faces, but because of their familiar posture or body language. In fact, posture is the foundation of our body language.
Posture is important for our emotional wellbeing because our brain interprets our moods by reading our posture. If we stand with shoulders and pelvis forward and tucked in; our brain reads the posture and assumes we are sad. It stops producing the happy hormones of serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphin. On the other hand, if our posture is graciously elongated, our neck and shoulders relaxed, and our bottom out, our brain is convinced that we are happy and starts producing and releasing the happy hormones for us. This connection of posture and feelings goes beyond humans. Dogs, for example, bring their bottom in and tail between their back legs when they are worried or scared, and when they are happy and excited, their tail comes up and their bottom goes out.
By changing the posture of our body, we can trick the mind into feeling happy and increase our sense of wellbeing. Like when we practice laughing yoga, where we fake the laugh until we make it naturally; if you adjust your posture, soon enough your mood will follow.
How can you improve your posture?
Keeping an elongated posture is not as easy as it sounds. If we have had bad posture habits for a long period of time, it will require a great deal of training to correct so we can change the messages sent to our brain. It is here where yoga provides benefits because it allows us to improve our posture by making our body strong and flexible, and inclined to hold the ideal position.
Modern studies of body fascia have discovered the importance of continuity and biotensegrity (biology tensional integrity) when understanding the human body. It is not simply a bunch of pieces working in tandem, but a structure that communicates with itself and is capable of performing different movements so that it can function together as a whole.
When talking about the body’s fascia and posture, the most important part is called the Psoas muscle, which is responsible for our posture and movement. The Psoas runs from the lumbar spine through the groin on either side and extends through the pelvis to the femur. According to recent body fascia studies by Joanne Sarah Avison, author of Yoga Fascia Anatomy and Movement, the myofascial role of the Psoas is closely situated around the legs of the diaphragm, and it mediates the moving relationship between the breath, spine, and legs.
For this reason, I like to think of the Psoas as the yogi muscle because it is responsible for the synchronicity of breath, posture, and movement. The idea is to concentrate on the Psoas when walking and holding your ideal happy posture. This allows you to breathe to your full capacity, practice mindfulness, and flow with your environment in a manner that is yoga in natural practice.
A healthy lifestyle involves yoga to nurture and love your body, mind and soul, which is essential to growing older with grace and vitality.