Strengthening and stretching the chest, core and back are necessary for proper posture. To lengthen the spine you must correct bad posture habits, such as slumping, slouching and swaying. To correct these habits you must be aware of how you sit, stand and walk, and strengthen and stretch the opposing muscles. If you are a sloucher with your shoulders falling forward, you will need to work on opening up the chest and strengthening the chest and shoulder muscles, notes "Yoga Journal."
The prone superman opens up the chest muscles and engages the entire back. This exercise brings awareness to your shoulder alignment with the back. Begin this exercise lying prone on the floor, and extend your arms forward. Inhale, and lift your head off the floor. Next, lift your right arm and your left leg. Hold this position for five to eight seconds, exhale and then release. Inhale, and lift your head off the floor, then your left arms and right leg. Hold for five to eight seconds, exhale and release. Lift your head once more, this time lift both arms and both legs. Hold this position for five to eight seconds, exhale and release. Repeat the entire sequence two to five times.
The ball roll exercise strengthens the abdominal muscles, stretches the back and brings awareness to your spine. Begin this exercise sitting on something soft, such as a mat or your bed. Sit upright with your shoulders over your hips and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands just below the knees, on the top of your shins. Round your spine into a "C," inhale and slowly roll onto your back. Feel the vertebrae in your back lengthen as you roll down, from your tailbone to your shoulders. Exhale and pull your belly button toward your back, and lift yourself back upright. Repeat this exercise eight to 10 times.
Yoga Warrior II
The yoga warrior II pose is a standing pose that engages your lower-body, your entire core, chest and shoulders. This exercise lengthens and strengthens the back muscles and brings awareness to your posture. Begin this exercise standing with your feet slightly past shoulder-width apart. Bring your right foot out to a 90 degree angle, and turn your left foot in slightly. Extend your arms to your sides at shoulder level, and bend your right leg so your right knee is over your right toes. Press your left heal into the floor, and keep your torso upright over your hips. Hold this pose for 10 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.