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If we were to mimic a person taking a deep breath of fresh air, we would likely lift our chests and hold our heads up high. A gentle backbend like this helps keep us balanced and breathing well.

Kyphotic (hunched) postures are common as we age

It is common for our posture to become more kyphotic as we age. It could be due to years of responsibilities like caring for children, working at a desk, or engaging in hobbies like reading or knitting. Oftentimes, this results in the shortening of the front side of the body. In addition, the head is held forward in relation to the spine, which becomes more flexed. This is quite the opposite of the posture we would hold when taking in a deep, refreshing breath.

While a rounded posture can certainly feel good for cozy time, it can also compress and inflame our spine. Then, swelling in the affected areas can calcify. Thereby making what was once a malleable and dynamic body part more rigid and bone-like. Our body, being a willing participant in our posture, does what it can to keep us in our preferred alignment. Without variety, or at least opposites, of spinal positions, we tend to get rather stuck in the one(s) we do most often.

Interestingly, this affects not only our ability to breathe well, but our balance, too. The areas of stress that our posture imposes on our muscles affects how we perceive and respond to our body’s position in space. According to the American Posture Institute, “The flexed posturing that often develops in elderly persons may place their center of gravity closer to their limit of stability.” (Sinaki et al., 2005)

If you find yourself near the limit of your stability, it’s possible that rounded posture is not helping matters. Introducing a “helpful opposite” to that posture, such as a gentle backbend, can refresh your body. And can also improve your senses while reducing your risk of falls.

Balancing our tendency to hunch over

Yoga postures mimic our natural movement instincts to help maintain or restore the healthy functioning of our systems. In a typical Yoga class, we move our spine in all directions, from backbends to forward folds, twists and side bends to general lengthening. While it feels great to do them all on a regular basis, any one of them can be like a “helpful opposite” to our daily posture habits.

In the video below, I share a wonderful counter-position to flexed posture: a safe, supported, gentle backbend in a variation of Bridge Pose.

Breathe Better, Stand Taller with this Gentle Backbend with Sherry Zak Morris

When was the last time you did a backbend? Backbends allow the front side of your body to open and elongate. As a result, your posture and breathing improve. They are considered “energizing” poses in Yoga and something worth doing. However, they can feel scary for those with Low Back issues. Here is a step-by-step way to get into a safe, supportive and gentle backbend. Stay in a comfortable position and remember to just breathe and enjoy the benefits!

The gentle backbend in this pose brings length to the areas of the body that tighten while seated. Consequently, this enables us to breathe well and feel balanced in our bodies at any age. Try it for yourself!


To watch a video related to this Topic, click on an image below:

Note: The videos listed are included in all YogaVista.TV subscription plans.

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Online Workshops related to this Topic:

Online Workshop: The Posture Project for the 50+ Population

Poor posture and pain go together. Rounded shoulders and a limping gait are examples of posture gone awry. As a result, these misalignments can lead to pain and joint damage as we age. However, posture can be improved no matter what age you are! This Workshop provides specific movement recommendations that can be done in Yoga classes and/or at home to improve your posture. In addition, Sherry Zak Morris shares the stunning results of her Senior Posture Project.

CREDITS:  Author, Sherry Zak Morris, Certified Yoga Therapist

Co-Author, Susana Jones, Certified Yoga Therapist

Editor, Maria Perez, Certified Yoga & Group Fitness Instructor