Hunched back and poor posture is a common problem many face today. Sitting over a laptop for hours, driving, cooking, standing in line at a supermarket are activities that cause a strain on the back, leading to postural problems. Extended periods of bad posture can lead to a compromised vertebrae alignment, pain and nerve construction. It can also cause poor blood circulation, fatigue, breathing problems, cardiovascular problems, tissue damage, joint degeneration, mood swings, etc. the biggest problem is the compression and constriction that it causes along the spine.
Yoga is an effective practice to counteract the tendency to slouch as well as increase core strength and awareness, helping you stay mindful of your posture. Many yoga poses assist with alignment correction along the spine, reversing the effects of bad posture. In this article we will look at five yoga poses to correct a hunched back. These are all simple, beginner-level poses that can be practiced everyday or at the end of a day as well.
Yoga poses for a hunched back
Mountain pose, while simple to practice, teaches you to sense a perfect vertical alignment of the body. Initially, finding that point of perfect alignment might be challenging - you might push the shoulder too far back and stick the chest out, for example. Practice under a teacher’s guidance to find that neutral position where you are not leaning forward nor backward, and you can identify that symmetrical point on either side of the midline.
How to do Mountain pose
- Stand with your feet slightly apart on the mat. Ensure your weight is equally distributed between the feet.
- Inhale, raise your arms above your head, interlock your fingers. The palms should be facing upwards.
- Now slowly raise your shoulders up towards your ears. Exhale, roll the shoulders back and down your spine, opening your chest and straightening your posture.
- Hold still, maintaining a steady gaze and staying relaxed.
- After a few breaths, slowly come back to the normal position and relax.
The Cat-cow stretch, Marjariasana, helps you understand the natural curve of the spine. By moving from the flexion position (cat) to the extended position (cow), your spine moves through the midpoint each time, allowing you to feel the neutral position accurately. Marjariasana improves spinal flexibility, eases stiffness and tightness and improves mobility.
How to do Cat-cow pose
- Come onto all fours with the palms directly under the shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Ensure your weight is equally distributed on all fours.
- Inhale and fill your abdomen with air as you let your belly drop towards the mat. There will be an arch in your back as you do this. Look up towards the ceiling and lengthen your neck and throat.
- As you exhale, pull the naval towards the spine, curve your back and tuck your chin into your chest as you lift up.
- Continue this movement for a few breaths. Let your breath guide you through the movements.
- After a few rounds, release and come into child’s pose.
Seated spinal twist
The easy spinal twist is a simple twisting asana that helps keep the shoulders in line while opening up the chest region. During the posture, awareness remains to ensure the shoulders are not falling forward and the chest is open.
How to do easy spinal twist
- Sit on the mat with your legs extended forward. Keep the hands on the sides of the body.
- Fold the left leg at the knee. Place your left foot near the right knee on the ground. Now place your left hand on the back of your left hip, away from the spine.
- Place your right hand on the opposite side of your left knee.
- Now turn your back, look behind, and look up.
- Keep breathing normally while holding the posture.
- After a few breaths, slowly come back to the starting position. Repeat this with the other leg.
A gentle backbend, the Bridge pose is known as Setu Bandhasana. This posture is effective in opening the shoulders and chest region, giving a relaxing stretch to the back. It also strengthens the spine, providing more support. When doing the pose, after lifting the hips, pause for a moment to tuck each shoulder blade into your back. Then gently lift a big higher. This will cause a better opening up of the chest region.
How to do Bridge pose
- Lie on the back, bend the knees and bring the heels closer to the buttocks. Keep the heels firmly on the mat. The feet should be hip width apart on the floor with the knees and ankles in a straight line.
- Hold the ankles with your hands.
- Inhale and slowly lift the buttocks and hips up. Now lift the back and arch the back upward as you raise the lower, middle and upper back off the floor.
- Now lift the chest as high as possible towards the chin without straining. Ensure that the feet and shoulders lie firmly on the ground. Keep the inner thighs and glutes active and engaged. The thighs should be parallel to each other.
- Gently roll the shoulders and support your weight with the shoulders, arms and feet.
- Stay here for a few deep breaths.
The Cobra pose reverses hunched shoulders, opens up the chest, strengthens the back and core muscles. A stronger core also helps in reversing a hunched back. By pushing the shoulders back, the effect of closed-off shoulders leaning into the chest is also reversed or reduced.
How to do Cobra pose
- Lie flat on the stomach with the legs straight, feet together and the soles of the feet facing upwards.
- Place the palms of the hands flat on the floor, below and slightly to the side of the shoulders, with the fingers together and pointing forward.
- Position the arms so that the elbows point backward and are close to the sides of the body.
- Rest the forehead on the floor and close the eyes.
- Relax the whole body, especially the lower back. Now slowly raise the head.
- Straighten the elbows, using the back muscles first, then the arm muscles to raise the trunk further and arch the back.
- In the final position, the pubic bone remains in contact with the floor and the navel is raised a maximum of 3 mm.
- The arms may or may not be straight; this will depend on the flexibility of the back.
Apart from this, practicing yoga asanas for core strength such as Warrior 1 and 2, Chair pose, Boat pose and Plank pose, among others, help in correcting posture and hunched back. The core supports the back and back supports the core. So by strengthening one, the other gets stronger. A stronger core will allow you to stay upright, maintain awareness of a hunched position and correct the effects of a poor posture.