There’s a logic in yoga. When we feel agitated or anxious, we take short shallow breaths. So if we consciously take longer, deeper breathes, we calm our nervous system. Research shows that the same goes for our posture and core muscles when it comes to regulating stress. One way to relieve stress is to have better posture and to strengthen your core muscles. Here’s how it works.
Our muscles send signals to our brain. Our brain then sends signals to our adrenal glands.
Specifically, the brains sends signals to the part of the adrenal gland that produces stress hormones. So strengthening our core muscles and also those the improve our posture, such as the back and neck, helps reduce stress. In short, our muscles are less likely to send stress signals to our adrenal glands.
Yoga and Posture
I never thought much about my posture until I started doing yoga in my early 20s. One of the first things I did when I became more aware about my posture was to ditch the heels. I wore heels to feel and look taller, but aside from achy feet and discomfort, it compromised my posture. Aside from yoga or workouts such as pilates to strengthen the core and improve posture, there are many ways to incorporate movement throughout the day. Here are my 6 go-to movements for posture that can be done anytime of the day.
6 Movements to Improve Posture
- Shoulder rolls: roll shoulders forward 5x. Reverse the order and roll shoulders back, 5x. Exaggerate your movements. Feel like the shoulders are going to touch your earlobes.
- Sitting cat-cow: with the arms outstretch and parallel to each other, round the back, chin reaching for the chest. Stay for an exhale. Inhale, open the arms, reaching them back as far as you can, chest forward, and look up to the sky. Check if your shoulders are reaching up for the ears, relax them and let the shoulder blades pull down. Repeat 5x. If you don’t have space to stretch out the arms, you can keep them close to you loosely. The upper body motion is enough.
- Clasp your hands behind your back, making sure the base of the palms are as close together as you can. If you can straighten out the arms, that’s great. If not, keep them slightly bent, just make sure you keep the base of the palms touching. On an inhale, pull use the strength of your arms to peel the shoulders open and let the hands reach as far down. Hold for 10 seconds.
- Breathing exercises: Breathing deeper requires us to use the full capacity of our lungs and hunching doesn’t allow you to achieve capacity. Take 5 intentional inhales and 5 exhales. You can pause at the top of each inhale or exhale.
- Pectoral muscle stretch: Stand up with your right shoulder facing the wall. Stretch out your right hand with the palms on the wall. The arm, ideally should be in line with the shoulder. Count to 5 slowly and start turning the chest to the left. You will feel this opening even with just a small turn. Repeat on the other side.
- Take the arms overhead with palms facing back Bend at the elbows and touch the shoulder blades. Work towards getting the elbow to point towards the sky.
The More You Know
Adrenal glands produce hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, response to stress and other essential functions. They trigger your fight or flight response.Johns Hopkins Medicine
The adrenal medulla is located in the center of an adrenal gland. It produces “stress hormones,” including adrenaline.Johns Hopkins Medicine