From bending forward to send a text to slumping on the couch for a Netflix binge, poor posture has become second nature. The problem: “The compressive nature of prolonged slouching may cause tightness in the front of your abdomen and could lead to a disc injury,” notes Erica Meloe, owner and director of Velocity Physiotherapy in New York City. All of this can lead to back and neck pain, poor circulation, headaches, and other chronic woes. And when you’re slumped over, adds Meloe, you take in less air, which zaps energy levels. To straighten up (and stay limber!), try these poses recommended by yoga instructor and Health contributing editor Kristin McGee. Within minutes you’ll notice an energy boost; do them several times a week and you’ll see improvement in how you carry yourself.
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Clasped hands locust
Lie facedown on floor with legs extended and arms at sides. Inhale, raising head to look forward; as you exhale, lift chest and legs off floor, clasping hands together behind back with arms extended. Hold and breathe, using abs and back to help lift upper body farther while expanding the chest.
Bonus boost: “The opening of your chest here helps you breathe more deeply,” says McGee.
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Low lunge with twist
Start kneeling with left foot forward, knee bent at 90 degrees and right knee behind you; place hands on either side of left foot. Inhale, then exhale as you twist upper body to left, reaching left hand behind you to grasp outside of right foot. (If you can’t reach it, wrap a strap around foot and grasp ends of strap.) Hold here and breathe, reaching behind you to open up chest and shoulders; switch sides and repeat.
Bonus boost: “Here you can really feel the connection between your upper and lower body,” says McGee. “It opens up both your hips and your shoulders to work together.”
4 of 6Tom Corbett
Lie facedown with legs extended and arms out to sides, palms down. Roll onto your right shoulder, placing left foot on floor with left knee bent; at the same time, bring left hand across body to clasp right hand, keeping arms straight. (Use a towel or strap if top arm can’t reach bottom arm, or just move as far as you comfortably can into stretch.) Roll back to start and repeat on opposite side.
Bonus boost: “If you have carpal tunnel or tightness in the hands or wrists, this can be a very helpful move. It increases blood flow and mobility along the front of the chest and through the arm,” says McGee.
5 of 6Tom Corbett
Begin in Warrior 1, right foot forward with the right knee bent and the left foot pointing slightly to left. A line drawn from your right heel would bisect the arch of the left foot. Inhale, bringing the arms overhead, then exhale and straighten the right leg, bending forward over the right thigh and clasping elbows behind back.
Bonus boost: “Letting your head hang is great for brain drain, helping to reduce fatigue and release negative thoughts,” says McGee.
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Begin on all fours. Inhaling, lift left knee to about hip height while bringing right hand behind you to grasp inside of left foot. Exhaling, lift left leg as high as you can while holding on to foot. Switch sides and repeat.
Bonus boost: “Your entire core is engaged and strengthened through this move,” explains McGee.