Master Your Posture and Strength with These Top 10 Yoga Poses

Yoga is not only a practice of mindfulness and relaxation but also a powerful tool for improving posture and building strength. By its very definition, yoga is unity, the unity of body, mind and spirit. So how can we use yoga to unite strength, stability and overall wellbeing? By incorporating specific yoga poses into your routine, you can enhance your core stability to protect that spine, release tension that might be cause by poor posture or repetitive movements, and promote overall physical well-being.Poor posture can not only cause physical pain but it can impact your digestion by constricting the digestive organs and altering others perception of us.

 I’ll explore the top 10 yoga poses for posture and strength, each offering unique benefits to support your journey to a healthier, more aligned body.

1. High Plank (Phalakasana):

The first pose is one of my favourites, High plank. It is a foundational pose that strengthens the core, shoulders, and arms while also engaging the muscles along the spine. Holding this pose helps improve posture by stabilising the spine and protecting the lower back. 

Alignment tips: Slowly build up your high plank strength, starting on the knees and working up to the toes. Keep the elbows stacked under the shoulders to protect the joints and create stability. Draw the belly button towards the spine to activate the core and protect the back. Any pain or strain in the back, come out of the pose, this is where you can do more harm then good. 

2. Child’s Pose (Balasana):

Child’s pose is a gentle stretch that releases tension in the lower back and hips while elongating the spine. It provides a counterbalance to backbends and forward folds, helping to restore alignment and alleviate discomfort. If you are taking this at home, holding the childs pose with a pillow or bolster under the belly can add some extra support and help ground the body and mind. 

Alignment tips: this pose can be taken on your back if the knees don’t allow you to hold it face down. Waggling the tail gently side to side can help release the tension in the lower back and move deeper into the pose. 

3. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana):

Bridge pose is an excellent posture for opening the chest and shoulders while also stretching the hip flexors. By strengthening the back and glutes, it supports proper spinal alignment and encourages good posture.

Alignment tips: Keep your feet parallel, toes pointing straight forward to the front of the mat. Pressing in firmly to the feet will help activate the muscles along the back line of the body. Keep the knees stacking straight over the ankles to avoid any pain. 

4. Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana):

At the beginning of your yoga practice this pose will seem like a lot of work. Slowly with experience this pose becomes a resting pose, with a stronger core and correct alignment, you could hold this as long as your tadasana. Downward-facing dog is a dynamic pose that stretches and strengthens the entire body, including the spine, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves. Using gravity to help lengthen the spine and improve overall posture by releasing tension in the back and promoting alignment.

Alignment tips: Avoid arching the back, bending the knees as much as you need to try and keep the spine long. Work to draw the shoulder blades down the back towards the tailbone to avoid dumping into the shoulders and neck. 

5. Locust (Salabhasana):

Locust pose is a back strengthening pose, which you can slowly increase the intensity by taking more of your body off the ground. Slowly and safely strengthen the muscles around your spine to support and protect it. 

Alignment tip: Keep your gaze forward and down, avoid looking up as this will compress the vertebrae in the spine. Lengthen your lower back by gently pressing your pubic bone into the floor to allow strengthening without compression of the vertebrae. 

6. Tree Pose (Vrksasana):

Tree pose challenges balance and stability while strengthening the muscles of the legs, hips, and core. By focusing on alignment and engaging the core, it helps improve posture and focus. Standing balances including tree works the minute muscles in the foot and ankle creating stability. Often back pain and poor posture comes from something further away, either the ankle, knee or hip being misaligned. As your body tries to compensate for this imbalance. 

Alignment Tip: work to draw the arch of the grounded foot up the inseam of the leg, this is often where people are weaker and collapse. Try to keep both hip bone pointing straight forward, avoid trying twisting the hips to try and bring the knee out further. Adjust as much as needed, moving the raised foot down the leg to the calf or as a kickstand on the floor to help build muscles to keep the correct postural alignment.

7. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana):

Cobra pose is a gentle backbend which strengthens the muscles of the back, shoulders, and arms while also stretching the chest and abdomen. Allowing the shoulders to pull back into place, counteracting the effects of prolonged sitting and promotes spinal extension for better posture.

Alignment tip: Keep your gaze forward and down to avoid compressing the neck. Actively work to broaden the collar bones and pull the shoulder blades down the back. If the shoulders are creeping up by the ears, lower the chest down closer to the floor. 

8. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana):

Cat-cow pose is a gentle spinal warm-up that moves the spine through flexion and extension. It can be done on all fours, seated or standing. It helps increase spinal mobility, release tension, and improve posture by promoting awareness of the natural curves of the spine. You can take this pose just along the center line, or start to bring in any intuitive movement, looking over your shoulders, lowering one shoulder down then the other. Take it however feels good in your body. 

Alignment tip: draw the belly button towards your spine to help activate the core. Avoid any movements which cause pain, numbness or tingling as this is hitting your nerves. 

9. Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana):

Seated forward fold stretches the entire back of the body, including the spine, hamstrings, and calves. It encourages lengthening of the spine and promotes a sense of relaxation and release, which can contribute to better posture.

Alignment tip: The most common mistake here is letting the ego take over and forcing the head towards the legs which causing an arching in the back. This will pull the muscles around the spine, not release and lengthen as we are trying to achieve. Bend the knees as much as you need here to keep the back long and straight. You will still stretch the hamstrings with the knees bent. 

10. Moving Lizard Lunges:

Moving lizard lunges dynamically stretch the hip flexors, groin, and psoas muscles while also engaging the core and upper body. By releasing tension in these areas, they help improve posture and alleviate discomfort associated with prolonged sitting. If one hip is tight you might start to see one side of your body tilit or be a little lopsided. Each variation of lizard pose works slightly different muscles around the hips, so try to incorporate a few of them.

Alignment tip: Moving in and out of the different lizard lunge poses helps to work that hard to reach psoas muscle. Work on pulsing, straightening and bending that front leg or moving between lizard and winged lizard pose. 

Incorporating these top 10 yoga poses into your practice can help you cultivate strength, stability, and better posture. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi, integrating these poses into your routine can support your journey to a healthier, more aligned body. When working with an injury or starting something new, take it slow, use as many props or modifications as you need, and never do anything which causes pain or numbness. Remember to move mindfully, listen to your body, and enjoy the transformative benefits of yoga on your posture and strength.