Few things outrage me more than bad posture. I get really bent out of shape when I see people who are literally bent out of shape. It is so simple to improve your posture, and it is totally free and requires no gym membership.
Here are some Don’ts:
1. Don’t lean into one hip and cock it off to one side.
2. Don’t slump your spine like a willow tree.
3. Don’t emulate the posture of Paris Hilton.
Here are some Do’s:
1. Stand up straight.
2. Point your toes forward.
3. Have some respect for your own structure.
Okay, good, glad I got that off my chest.
Why is bad posture bad for you?
The reason your posture hurts my feelings, and yours, is because poor posture creates significant changes over time in the soft tissues of the body – its muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia – as well as the hard tissues like bone, cartilage and discs.
The short form equation is this: Bad Posture + Time = Degeneration and Pain
The new normal?
Before this blog becomes too full of scolding, I also want to acknowledge that, for many people, their bodies have become so used to poor postural habits that walking the “straight and narrow” can actually be very uncomfortable and challenging to maintain as a “new normal” in their bodies. This is where corrective exercises like Yoga Tune Up® play a role on helping the body to lengthen the tissues that have become locked into an unhelpful holding pattern, or to strengthen tissues that are weak and unsupportive.
There are about a zillion different exercises that you can do to retrofit your body from inside out, but improving your posture can be dramatically affected by going after the largest joints in your body: the hips.
Watch our Free 5-Minute Quickfix: Hips Video
Learn about our programs to relieve hip pain.
Learn about our Self Massage Therapy Ball Programs.
Thank you for connecting the hips to posture. That was a shift in my perspective.
Love the way you write – to the point, clear, no nonsense, witty, humorous. This blog is a great endorsement of the YTU method. Love your don’t’s and do’s lists, your acknowledgement that it can be very challenging and uncomfortable to correct imbalances and maintain a “new normal”, and how the YTU method can help to support healthy postural change.
At some point you have to decide if not feeling pain all the time is worth more than the discomfort of trying to shift deeply ingrained body patterns. Making these new neurological grooves can be exciting if you look at it like a game to change your habitual body positioning. Sometimes a change in perspective equals a change in habit.
Depuis que j’ai commencé le Yoga Tune Up, je pense quotidiennement à ma posture, et l’une des posture que je tente de ne plus faire et lorsque l’on met tout notre poids sur une hanche. Je ne réalisais pas à quel point c’était mauvais pour notre corps et maintenant que je commence à comprendre la mécanique du corps ça devient évitant que c’est une posture a proscrire. J’essaie également de sensibiliser les gens puisque la majorité n’ont pas conscience qu’il adopte plusieurs mauvaises postures.
This article reminds me of something a wise person once told me, willpower can only last for so long and when that runs out we fall back on our habits. The will to change the landscape of our bodies is a great place to start, however true change will come when we change the habitual behaviors that got us to there in the first place. It is starting to become clear to me now that I also have to change my sleeping habits because I sleep in a twisted shape that works all night to undo the good changes I try to invoke during the day.
This is great. Many of us, take our hips for granted. The simple do’s and don’ts you outlined here are a great starting place to begin to bring awareness to the health of our hips. Paying attention to our posture can be done at anytime and at any place. Changes can only be made once you realize there is something that needs to be changed. It’s better to start paying attention to your body before your body makes you pay attention to it. As we continue to live, practice, and become more aware of our body in general, we will see that reaching “a new normal” is normal and rewarding.
Since I discovered Yoga Tune Up I can’t stop thinking about my posture! I am constantly readjusting, making sure that I am not leaning on one leg, sitting up straight, not slouching, not sitting for too long, not looking down at my phone for too long. It’s amazing to think how “comfortable” we have gotten in our bad posture. I am slowly learning to re-educate myself and hopefully my good posture will become the new normal. 🙂
We CAN CHANGE the way we think about aging! My grandmother’s immaculate health at 86 years old reminds me of this and so to does YTU. Growing older does NOT equate rounding forward, as does the old lady hunched over with her cane. This is made even more obvious to me when I see people my own age (in their twenties) already developing a hunch back! I really appreciate how YTU puts emphasis on the proper alignment of the hips affecting posture, rather than just looking at the shoulders.
It is easy to get caught up in habit and movement patters. But good posture can become a habit as well. being mindful on how posture can affect pain, mobility, and ability to optimize performance in sports, life, daily practice, are all incentives to work on a little self improvement. Better posture not only allows the body to function as it should, but it also expresses confidence and openness to those around us. Who knows, it may inspire them to have better posture as well!
Guilty! Cocking one hip, duck walk, crossing my legs. But how was I to know? Everybody was doing it. Well, thank you Jill for this quick tips list of don’ts and dos. It’s very helpful (and I really AM trying to correct some of these lifelong habits). I also appreciate the hips video. I need all the help I can get 🙂
It takes years to develop all our bad postural habits, so it will take time and effort to unlearn them and train our body to keep good posture. As a yoga teacher, I often encounter some degree of resistance from the students when poses feel uncomfortable due to the body that’s bent out of shape by years of poor posture. That’s when all the encouragement, patience and knowledge of how to explain the benefits of poses come into play.
i love reading this article. Since I have been in training you have continued to remind me not to cock my hips, which is my normal standing position. Now I find myself correcting it or not doing it because i am aware. I am looking to incorrporate all of your suggestions into my hip make over and healing and of course sharing with my students.
I wanted to look at Jill Millers blog first because I just spent the weekend in the anatomy yoga tune up work shop and wanted to know as much about the creator as possible! I was blown away all weekend learning not only about muscles and fascia and breathing, but also about how so many of us are doing postures incorrectly and have no idea. I think it is a huge problem that not all yoga teachers are required to take yoga tune up, because they are, all over the world, letting beginners and intermediate yogis practice with the wrong alignment. I also think its absurd that until this weekend I never heard about end range and that certain people’s bones prevent them from doing specific postures the way others can. It seems like common sense now because everyones bodies are different, but like we discussed in class everyone sees the cover of yoga magazines and assumes postures like double pigeon have to looks a certain way to be perfect when really, everyone’s is different. This pertains to this blog specifically because everyones posture is different, and a lot of bad posture comes from lack of information about how we should be standing, or carrying bags, or even I could go into nutrition, but I won’t… Anyway, I know I have bad neck and shoulder pain from carrying heavy bags and waitressing, and some yoga tune up would really benefit most people, especially New Yorkers!
Thank you for creating a simple checklist to remember in my daily life and at my practice. I have bad habits creating bad posture, and I am reminded once again, if I don’t want to end up like my grandmother and my mother with osteoporosis and exaggerated retraction of the upper back and shoulders, I need to be tuning up with my yoga practice on and off the mat..
Thanks for the extra point that some people who have held onto their poor posture for an extended period of time may not be able to achieve “good” posture. A gentle reminder to fit the pose/work/stretch to the student, and not the other way around =)
Hahahaha. Now it makes sense why Jill was always calling me out in class for standing with my hip pointing out to the side. I think it’ll be ingrained in my head now to respect my structure and posture.
As a previous comment stated after observing people’s posture most have poor posture….I also include myself in this category and feel that some of it is laziness, a large chest, which for me can create a body image issue by wanting to round my shoulders and “disguise” (HAHA) the fact that my breasts are voluminous, along with the accouterments that are always in tow, have created really really weak muscles. Today I learned that I may have a chance at strengthening them since I finally felt where they were.Thanks!
In the process of unraveling my body’s bad habits!
I’ve started to become more and more aware of my tendencies to externally rotate my hips and anteriorly tilt my pelvis while standing and sometimes while walking. I now have a constant practice of looking down at my toes. Turning them in has become my trigger to organize the rest of myself as I schlep from one place to another around NYC everyday. Thank you for the reminder!
The hip-opening sequence we did today in class awakened so much more than just my hips. Thanks for revolutionizing the way I think about stretching, strengthening and abiding in my body.
Haha, don’t emulate Paris Hilton. I can picture her protruding hips now. What I find helpful in your post is the emphasis on lengthening and strengthening to improve posture. I am constantly adducting my scapula to elevate my chest. I am getting that the idea is to grow taller from within first and then that will show on the outside. Sounds like a good idea to me!
I used to have really poor posture, and honestly never felt comfortable even standing up straight. It always felt like such an effort to do, so after hearing my mom exclaim “stand up straight” and attempting to do so, I would revert back to hunching my shoulders forward and putting my spine into flexion. Yoga literally revolutionized my posture. After practicing for some time I found myself able to sit up straighter without a ton of effort. At the same time, I know that my posture could still use improvement, and so I really enjoyed your no-nonsense tips about not standing in bad posture! I definitely do this often without thinking. I’m looking forward to bringing more awareness to my posture through yoga tune-up and continuing on my journey to happy, healthy bones, joints, muscles and fascia.
It is always said that “old habits die hard!” So it is important that all of us correct our posture sooner rather than later. As Connie mentions above, it is amazing how just being conscious of my feet being straight has really helped me throughout the day. Even when just standing in the elevator I am able to correct my feet and thus keep my hips open and stack my spine straight. It’s funny how we all naturally slump or cock our hips, so being aware of the issue and thus daily fixing it has really helped me on a daily basis and help me help others.
After our recent YTU training, I am observing everyone’s posture and am amazed at how many people walk around with poor posture, including myself. The simple do’s you point out are so effective. I find myself checking my posture all the time now and looking down at my feet to make sure they are pointing straight forward. I am also sharing these simple suggestions with friends and co-workers and it is inspiring to share knowledge for the good of one’s health!
I work on my feet, and have done so for the past 5 or so years. There is never a time where it acceptable to sit. Since beginning yoga several years ago, my posture has become a more conscious part of my day. I am always “leaning into one hip and cocking it to the side” to give myself a breather, not to mention not even aware of what direction my toes are pointing. My hips are understandably tight and it’s easy to see how my daily posture is contributing to this. Its great to see how I can be proactive throughout the day rather than just trying to reverse the effect with my practice. Thanks!
thank you so much for your insightful words regarding posture and the negative impact bad posture has on one’s well being. It is a reminder no matter what one is involved with, that bad posture can have such a serious and negative effect on one’s quality of life.
It’s amazing how the simple act of turning the feet in (i.e.facing them forward since I am someone who stands with a natural external rotation) allowed my pelvis to release and the spine to stack right up above it. Just one movement lined everything up for me…I need an App to remind me every hour to check which way my feet are facing!
I just finished the Yoga Tune Up portion of my 200 hour teacher certification, and it was an amazing class. One thing I realized about my posture is my toes do no naturally point forward when standing. My left foot seems fine. but my right one points out to the right a little. I broke this ankle many years ago and have difficulty with the range of motion (which I believe is due to scar tissue build up). I never realized it points out to the side until this weekend. Practicing Yoga has helped a lot with the range of motion. Now I am aware I need to focus on the direction of my toes when standing straight to help improve my posture even more!
I frankly appreciate your no nonsense approach. Bad Posture Time = Pain and Degeneration. I am a dancer, and have always been told I have good posture, so I’m grateful for that. However I know I have room for improvement particularly in my hips, I sit into them a lot, and as you said “have respect for your body” I love that, because we may feel like we are relaxing, but in truth the body was made a specific way and we should pay homage to that.
I totally agree with this article. Its so easy to develop bad postural habits and it reminds me of what my osteopath once said, that “life will not let up so neither can we.” For example, don’t let sitting down in a chair all day lead to spinal flexing- I see it in EVERYbody! Try to sit upright, it’s free and it becomes preferable to sitting with a convexed spine. Another one I heard of recently is keeping your wallet in your back pocket is a no-no, especially if its full of cash (go figure). That wad of dough will cause back pains as you’re unable to sit with your weight evenly distributed. The positive side to it is that if you do develop back pains and a possible injury, it’s probably safe to say that you have the cash to afford a therapist. But, as Jill points out, it’s better to prevent these foreseeable complications and a lot cheaper, too.
The beauty of this practice is just when you think you know, you don’t or you realize there’s another few chapters you didn’t see. There’s always another layer. In the early stages, we realize we have one shoulder higher that the other or that our left foot turns out slightly. After years of practice, we begin to see and feel beneath the more obvious visual cues to comprehend the deep layers of tissue holding it all together. I can get things to “line up” but I now feel it from the inside and know when I’m going to be scolded for hunching or leaning. There is a world of awareness that builds and becomes the new normal. Layer by layer, year after year, it continues to change and evolve with mindful presence.
Applause. Thank you for making the simple to do list for the unmindful people. Everyone she post this on the fridge and cubicle to read everyday! Simple rules for a better spine… for a better life.