Exercises that strengthen the back muscles lead to better posture. A slumped posture not only limits the function of breathing, but also can lead to back, neck, shoulder and other muscle problems. Yoga incorporates strength-building exercises that target the back. Healthy back muscles provide support to the entire body and aid the alignment of the head, shoulders, hips, knees and feet. When the body system is inline, the system works in balance and leads to improved posture.
Lie on Your Belly
Locust Pose is a basic backward bend prone (lying face down) posture that engages the back, gluteus maximus (buttocks), hamstrings and calve muscles. The exercise strengthens the spine and back muscles and stretches the shoulders, chest and thighs. Lie on your stomach with your forehead on the ground. Extend the arms alongside the torso with the palms facing up and keep the legs straight, hip distance apart. Roll the big toes toward each other to rotate your thighs inward. Root the pelvis, lower ribs and belly into the ground and lift the legs, upper torso and head. Bring your gaze slightly in front of you. Hold the posture for 10 seconds and release. Repeat three times. The spine and back muscles are completely strengthened and the shoulders, chest and thigh stretching improves your posture.
Actively Sit Tall
Staff Pose is a basic seated spinal extension that strengthens the back muscles, stretches the shoulders and chest and improves your overall posture. Sit with the legs extended in front of you and flex the feet. Bring the arms alongside the hips with the fingertips facing the feet. Press the palms down. Ground the tailbone and legs and elongate the spine with the crown on the head extending toward the ceiling. Stay actively in the pose for 8 seconds.
Work Your Core
The lower back is part of the body core, and a strong core aids in stabilizing the spine, curbs back pain and promotes healthy posture. An exercise to strengthen your core is done on your back with the knees drawn into your chest. Interlace the fingers behind your head and raise the shoulders. Switch (or bicycle) the left and right leg with one knee bent and the other leg straight. Bring the opposite elbow to the bent knee. For example, straighten the left leg, bend the right leg bent, and bring the left elbow to the right knee.
Lifting weights, either light dumbbells, or at the gym will strengthen the muscles in your upper back -- a very important aspect of getting great posture. Do rows, either seated or standing with a cable machine, barbell or dumbbells. Do pullups and pull downs or barbell or dumbbell shrugs. If lifting dumbbells, start with a weight you can handle and work your way up to 3 sets of eight to 12 reps over time.