Before reading any further, I want you to notice your posture.
If you’re thinking ‘really?’ then yes, really.
I’ll help: Are you hunching? Are your shoulders close to your ears? Are you tilting forward more than necessary? Maybe tilting backwards?
To return to a correct posture, plant your feet onto the floor with your weight evenly distributed and roll your shoulders back while simultaneously lowering your shoulders away from your ears. If needed, lean backwards or forward so that your upper body is directly above your hips – don’t arch your spine or tilt sideways either, just keep the spine and body neutral.
You’ve now improved your posture. Although it seems like a snooze worthy topic, it’s actually shocking how important posture is. A brief run-through:
The Side Effects of Bad Posture
- Incorrect posture can create misalignments within your joints. In the long term, this can cause fatigue as your muscles will use more energy to compensate for the misalignment.
- Incorrect posture can cause or contribute to tension headaches due to muscular tension created within the back of the neck. Back pain can also arise from muscular tension
- Incorrect posture can affect digestion and improper digestion can lead to acid reflux and constipation
- Incorrect posture can compress the lungs (especially if hunching forward) which in turn, can cause a decrease in oxygen intake
- Incorrect posture can lead to injuries, especially when exercising.
Yoga Poses To Improve Your Posture
As a Yoga Alliance certified teacher, I will always highlight returning to a correct posture during my classes. Why? Physically, to reverse the side effects listed above. Metaphysically, because yogic text states that the spine is the spiritual centre of the body and that kundalini activation starts at the base of the spine.
So, here are five of my favourite yoga poses to perform to maintain a healthy spine:
At The Desk
Ardha Chandrasana (Standing Crescent Moon Pose): The reason I recommend this posture is because below your rib and above your pelvis is a muscle known as the Q.L muscle. When weak, it contributes to bad posture and thus, back pain. By stretching and strengthening the Q.L through Standing Crescent Moon Pose, you can alleviate back pain. Note that I’m referring to the Bikram version of Ardha Chandrasana.
On The Mat
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Dog): Personally, Downward Dog cracks my cervical spine every time I need a relief. While this may not happen to you, benefits include: opening the hamstring, back, chest, & shoulder, strengthening the nerves and muscles in the limbs and back, and stimulating circulation.
Vyaghrasana (Tiger Pose): Everyone is familiar with Cat-Cow Pose but there’s a less popular pose that’s even more effective. Tiger Pose requires bending alternately in both directions which loosen the legs, hips, and back while simultaneously toning the spinal nerves. It’s ideal for anyone with sciatica as it relaxes the sciatic nerves as well.
Sarpasana (Snake Pose): In the textbook provided to me by the school I went to, it literally states that Snake Pose helps to correct the posture. In particular, it can rectify rounded shoulders. By performing this posture 2-3 a week, the back muscles will really strengthen, too.
Balasana (Child’s Pose): When you wake up in the morning or before you attempt to sleep, perform Child’s Pose. There’s a reason why it’s a go-to resting pose and that reason is because it regulates the functioning of the adrenal glands. In terms of posture, it releases pressure along the vertebral column as it can separate the individual vertebrae from each other.
While working from home has its pros (like wearing PJs all day), it also brings with it some very real pains. Most of our workstations are now beds and couches, but as comfortable as they sound – their lack of support has caused a lot of discomfort. An uncomfortable sitting position is just one of the many distractions you have to deal with when you work from home.
So from improving your posture to tackling blurred work-life boundaries, here are some changes you can make for a healthier and more productive WFH experience:
For the Body
Without our walks to lunch, or even from the carpark to the office, working from home has made us less active. This can lead to stiff necks and sore backs, as well as a higher risk of sedentary diseases, such as diabetes and obesity.
- Set up an ergonomic home office
A healthier body begins with a posture-friendly work desk. Sit up straight, adjust the height of your chair so your feet are on the ground (or on a footrest), and raise your laptop until the top of the screen is at eye level.
Check out this video for more tips explained by an ergonomics expert.
- Stand up and walk around
Your body needs to move to keep the blood flowing, and sitting in the same position for hours can take its toll. Schedule a reminder to stand up and move every 30-45 minutes – why not dance around your room to your favourite songs!
- Stretch and move some more
Regular stretches and exercises can help loosen tight muscles, strengthen them, and improve overall flexibility and mobility. Try following an online yoga class or these exercises for better back health.
For the Mind
If you find yourself struggling with concentration or working longer hours at home, you’re not alone. With the line between work and rest as fuzzy as can be, it’s easy for the mind to feel overwhelmed.
- Take mental breaks
Just as your body needs breaks from sitting, your brain needs regular rest from the screen too. Take a break after completing every task or try the Pomodoro Technique, which rewards you with a 5-minute rest after every 25 minutes of work. There’s even a Google Chrome extension you can install.
At the end of the work day, log off and keep your laptop hidden in a drawer to stop the temptation of replying to emails at 10PM.
- Plan your days
Write down a to-do list and estimate how much time you need to spend on each task. Having this fresh plan every morning keeps you focused and sets you up for a more productive day – it can also help you avoid the stress of rushing to meet deadlines later on.
- Remove distractions
From the comfy bed to your furry friend, distractions at home can make it hard to focus – identify what’s distracting you and remove it from your workspace. Is it your bed? Work in another room. Is your family talking a little too loud? Put on your earphones. Is it Netflix? Sign out of your account until you’re done for the day.
Share these tips with your friends who are hustling from home too!
If the idea of adding another workout to your routine made you roll your eyes, you just did your first face yoga exercise. That’s how easy and convenient these anti-ageing facial exercises are and they’ve been scientifically proven to make you look younger just by toning and relaxing your face muscles (which are stressed from all the adulting). Does this mean it’s a pain-free alternative to botox?
Yes and no, it’s not a quick fix like botox – the rejuvenating results can only be seen after regular and consistent training. The exercises target your face muscles, which then lift up the skin. Celebrity face yogi, Koko Hayashi, puts the popular Japanese practice into perspective: “You know the importance of exercising your body muscles on a regular basis and keeping good body posture, so why not care for the face?” As a CIDESCO licensed beauty therapist, her famous clientele includes Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian – you might’ve seen her teaching the eccentric family in an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Follow her favourite exercises below:
Yoga is known to improve posture, so face yoga does the same, helping keep good face posture (you know, your resting face) and break bad facial habits that cause wrinkles and sagging. Hayashi says to not fear smiling and laughing, sharing how to lighten up an RBF here:
By maintaining good posture and a daily exercise routine, you’ll be able to see results in no time! Do them on-the-go or during your self-care sessions for a noticeably firmer face.