10 of the Best Yoga Poses to Improve Posture

Cat-cow moves your spine through contraction and lengthening, something your back likely doesn't get enough of day to day.
Image Credit: AzmanJaka/E+/GettyImages

If you look down at a device often or spend lots of time sitting, it's likely your muscles are working hard to keep you upright throughout the day. Unfortunately, this can negatively affect your posture.


Bad posture can lead to other issues, like back pain and neck and shoulder tension (just to name a few). While we can't always do much about the demands of modern life, practicing a few yoga poses for posture at the end of the day can go a long way in keeping your spine healthy and your body feeling good.

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Yoga and Your Posture

"Practicing yoga can help you become more aware of your spine both on and off the mat, which can benefit your posture," says Alexandra Spergel, RYT-500, founder of As I Am Yoga & Healing. "Aligning your bones in the poses strengthens and opens up the body so you can better support yourself throughout the day."

Issues like forward head posture, rounded shoulders (thoracic kyphosis) and swayback (where a forward tilt in your pelvis causes an exaggerated inward curve in your lower back) are common postural issues.

Many of our daily activities require sitting for long periods or looking down at our phones and laptops, which means the weight of gravity is working against some of our muscles, like our hips flexors, core muscles, chest and shoulders and, of course, our necks.


"My own yoga practice helped me correct a posterior tilt in my pelvis — when standing, my tailbone was always curving in and tucked," Spergel says. "Practicing yoga consistently helped me balance and stabilize my pelvis, and I've noticed a major change in my posture."

If you have nagging lower back pain, knots in your shoulder blades, neck tension or headaches — or have just noticed that you're slouching — weak and tight muscles are likely to blame. Practicing yoga is a great way to restore strength and stability in your spine by working and stretching the muscle groups that support it.


Below, 10 of the best yoga poses that can help restore your posture and keep you standing tall.


Correcting your posture often takes more than just adding exercises or yoga poses to your routine. You may have to start being more mindful of your postural habits throughout the day, and work your way up to a stronger spine over time.

If you're finding it difficult to improve your posture, working with a physical therapist can help you diagnose your unique issues and needs.

1. Downward Facing Dog

Downward facing dog is a great posture for lengthening the entire back body from the heels to the head. In this pose, you're stretching areas like the backs of your legs (hello tight hamstrings) and decompressing your entire spine, which can help you stand up straighter.



Not only that, keeping your chin tucked in this pose will lengthen your neck, helping to counteract forward head posture.

Time 30 Sec
Activity Yoga
  1. Begin in an all-fours position on your hands and knees with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and hips stacked over your knees. Gaze down and tuck your chin slightly to keep the back of your neck long.
  2. Take a deep inhale into your entire ribcage, and on your exhale, lift your hips up and back toward the wall behind you as you begin to straighten your legs.
  3. If your heels reach the ground, press your feet into the ground lifting through your arches. If they don’t, keep your knees bent in this posture.
  4. Press your palms, knuckles and fingertips into the floor to keep your hands and arms engaged. Draw your shoulder blades down and back away from your ears as you press your chest toward your thighs.
  5. Take 5 deep breaths here.

2. Cat-Cow Pose

Cat-cow is all about the spine. The motion of these two postures combined help you to contract and lengthen the vertebrae in your spine for better overall mobility. Your chest, shoulders and neck will thank you.


Time 30 Sec
Activity Yoga
  1. Start on your hands and knees on all fours.
  2. Inhale as you drop your belly toward the floor, arching your back and lifting your head and tailbone toward the ceiling.
  3. Exhale as you round your back, pressing your mid-back toward the ceiling and tucking your chin under.
  4. Repeat this motion for 5 to 10 full rounds of breath.

3. Plank Pose

A classic plank engages your deep core muscles, which help support your body during pretty much any activity. More support from your core means your back, shoulder and neck muscles don't have to work as hard to keep you upright.

Planks also recruit the muscles in your legs, chest arms and shoulders for full-body strength. With this yoga pose, you can kiss those rounded shoulders goodbye.


Time 20 Sec
Activity Yoga
  1. Start on your hands and knees on all fours.
  2. Extend your right leg back behind you and place your toes on the ground. Then, extend your left leg back to meet the right. Your knees should be off the ground.
  3. Lengthen your spine by imagining that you’re reaching your tailbone toward your heels and the crown of your head toward the wall in front of you. Draw your shoulder blades together, away from your ears. Keep your hips and shoulders in line.
  4. Engage your abdomen and pull your lower belly in towards your spine.
  5. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 full breaths or as long as you can hold it with good form.

4. Forward Fold

You'll be able to tell why this yoga pose is one of the best for improving posture as soon as you get into it — with each deep breath, you'll feel the vertebrae in your back stretch away from one another as your head hangs down and your hips lift.

Forward folds are perfect for decompressing the spine after gravity has been pressing down on it the whole day. You should feel a deep release in the backs of your legs and hips, too.


Time 30 Sec
Activity Yoga
  1. Stand with your feet hips-width apart and your arms down by your sides.
  2. Take a deep inhale, then on your exhale, hinge from your hips to bend forward. If the backs of your legs or lower back feel tight, bend your knees.
  3. Allow your head and arms to hang down, grabbing opposite elbows.
  4. As you breathe and imagine your spine decompressing.
  5. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 full breaths.

5. Cobra Pose

Cobra pose is one of the best yoga poses for your posture because it lengthens all of the muscles along the front of the body, which can get compressed and tight when we spend lots of time sitting.

With this pose, you should feel a deep stretch in the front of your thighs, hips, abs, shoulders, chest and neck.


Time 20 Sec
Activity Yoga
  1. Lie face-down with your legs extended behind you on the ground. Your feet should be about hip-width apart (or slightly wider).
  2. Place your hands on the ground with your thumbs in line with your rib cage.
  3. Hug your elbows in to your sides and on an inhale, press the tops of your feet down to engage your legs.
  4. As you exhale, engage your abdominals by drawing your lower belly in toward your spine and slowly lift your head and chest, pressing your shoulders down and back. Imagine you’re drawing your collar bones and head up toward the ceiling.
  5. Gently press your pelvis and the tops of your feet down as you press into your hands gently and engage them toward your body to help encourage your chest forward and your shoulders back.
  6. Breathe in this pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths.

6. Bridge Pose

Keeping your pelvis stable and your hip flexors strong and supple is crucial for good posture: Short, tight muscles in this area pull on the muscles in your lower spine and create imbalances.

Bridge pose strengthens the glutes and hips, and it also works your transverse abdominis (the deep muscles in your core that keep your pelvis and spine stable).

Time 45 Sec
Activity Yoga
  1. Start laying on your back with your arms by your sides, palms facing down and feet planted on the ground as close to your butt as they can get.
  2. Take a deep breath into your ribcage and as you exhale, engage your abs by drawing your lower belly up and in. Press through your heels as you lift your hips up toward the ceiling.
  3. Keep your tailbone and chin slightly tucked to elongate you spine.
  4. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths in this pose.

7. Crescent Moon Pose

You might not automatically think about your hips if you're looking to improve your posture, but they play an important role. Tightness or weakness in your hip flexors can cause other muscles in your body to overwork and become tight, pulling your entire spine out of alignment.

The crescent moon lunge (or low lunge) stretches and gently strengthens the hip flexors while stretching your abs, chest and shoulders.

Time 45 Sec
Activity Yoga
  1. From all fours, inhale as you extend your right leg back behind you.
  2. Step your right foot forward to the top of your mat next to your right hand. Your left knee should be resting on the mat.
  3. Place your hands on your hips and on an inhale, lift your torso up until you’re completely upright. Allow your hips to shift forward so you’re feeling a stretch in your left quad and the front of your left hip.
  4. Keep your spine long by lifting your head and collar bones as you press your tailbone down.
  5. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths in this pose, then repeat on the other side.

8. Supine Twist

Taking a gentle twist on the floor not only feels amazing, but it does wonders for your posture, too. In yoga, twists are known as medicine for the spine. They can help keep your spine mobile and flexible over time, and they're great for stretching your hips, side body, chest and shoulders, all of which may be tight if you have poor posture.

Time 1 Min
Activity Yoga
  1. Lie flat on your back with your feet planted on the ground and your knees up.
  2. Extend your right leg out long and rest it down. Inhale and pull your left knee into your chest.
  3. As you exhale, use your right hand to draw your left knee across your body down toward your right side. It’s important to keep both your shoulders on the floor. Your knee may touch the ground next to you, but it doesn’t have to.
  4. Place your right hand on the outside of your left knee to help guide the knee toward the ground (but don’t yank or push).
  5. Inhale into your chest, abdomen and hips. On your exhale, allow your left knee to drop down closer to the ground (or sink more deeply into the ground).
  6. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths in this pose, then perform on the other side.

9. Supported Side Plank

Side planks strengthen your deep core muscles, especially your obliques, which help stabilize your pelvis and ribcage for better posture. The supported side plank will also lengthen and strengthen the muscles in your hips.

Time 1 Min
Activity Yoga
  1. Start on your hands and knees on all fours.
  2. Extend your left leg back behind you with your toes planted on the floor.
  3. Place your left heel down so your entire foot is planted on the ground. For stability, press your right knee and shin into the ground.
  4. On an inhale, extend your left arm up toward the ceiling, opening your hips toward the side of your mat.
  5. On your exhale, engage your abdomen by drawing your lower belly up and in. Keep pressing down into your base.
  6. Make sure to keep your neck long by keeping your head lifted and your chin tucked in slightly — don’t let your head drop down.
  7. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths in this pose, then perform on the other side.

10. Child’s Pose

Child's pose is a restorative yoga posture that stretches the glutes, hips and lower back, which can get tight throughout the day and affect your posture. This gentle stretch lengthens those muscles so your lower back can expand and relax.

Time 20 Sec
Activity Yoga
  1. Begin seated on your heels at the back of your mat.
  2. Take your knees out as wide as your mat, and inhale to sit up tall and extend your spine.
  3. On your exhale, place your hands on the floor in front of you and begin to walk them forward so that your torso begins to come down toward the ground. As you come forward, gently press your tailbone back and down.
  4. If it’s comfortable, rest your forehead onto your mat.
  5. Take 5 deep breaths in this pose.