One of my 65-year-old students recently noticed something telling about yoga. While she’s maintaining her height, her friends are getting shorter! It’s true that we shrink when we age, but what’s going on here?
In short, it’s all about good posture. And yoga helps with that.
How? Improving your posture means finding what is imbalanced in your body. Yoga doesn’t just strengthen your core—it gives you a constant stream of information about what makes your body unique.
Each person has different muscles holding specific tensions that pull us off balance. Did you play a childhood sport that developed the muscles on one side of your body more than the other? How many times has your neck hurt from staring at the TV or computer screen? Or have your shoulders ached from gardening?
Personal activities and skeletal structure can tighten different muscles in an imbalanced way, which, in turn, bends your posture.
For instance, I’ve found I have a very curved lumbar spine. It’s due to the tightness of my quads and hip flexors that pull down my iliac crest. Stretching out my quads and building up my hamstrings creates space for my sacrum to lengthen towards the ground. Once the iliac crest is lifted, there is space for the tailbone to release. After that, I can really straighten out and lengthen. My tension in gone!
Is it time for you to start lengthening? Begin by learning what makes your body unique.
All asanas (poses) will help you in creating that union with your body. I especially recommend the tadasana (mountain pose). This pose will inform you of habits you have while standing. Once you identify your bad habits, different poses and practices can target the areas that you need to stretch.
Most likely, you’ll form better habits that will help you stand tall!