It’s a recipe for rounded shoulders: We sit all day with our heads down, pecking away at keyboards and swiping smartphones. Time to straighten up!
Not only does proper posture strengthen your core and keep your spine in alignment, it can help you stay energized. When you’re hunched forward, you’re in sluggish mode; standing with shoulders back allows you to take deeper, fuller breaths and makes you feel more awake and alert.
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To improve your stance, you need to stretch out your shoulders, open up your tight hip flexors and lift your chest. Two of my favorite poses to do just that are Warrior 1 and Triangle with extended arms. Warrior 1 lengthens the front of the thighs, raises the chest and engages the abdominals, while Triangle releases the tightness in the hips and thighs and stretches the waist, shoulders and back muscles, all to support better form.
After doing these moves on both sides, notice how much easier it is to stand with an elongated stature. You may even feel like you grew an inch or two!
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- Stand at the front of your mat with hands on hips. Step back with left foot into a long lunge. Drop outer left heel so toes face forward at a 75-degree angle. Lunge deeper into front knee, lift arms, press palms and look up to hands for Warrior 1. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths.
- From Warrior 1, straighten right leg as you turn chest to the ceiling. Place right hand on right ankle or shin while you lift left arm directly above you, coming into Triangle pose. Inner right thigh should stay engaged. Hold for 5 breaths.
- Reach left arm above head toward the front of your mat, palm facing down. Bring right arm under right ear, reaching forward with palm up. Hold for 3 breaths. Lift to stand, and with hands on hips step to the front of your mat. Repeat sequence on other side.
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This article originally appeared on Health.com.
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