Do you often find yourself sore or achy after sitting for a long period of time? Maybe you feel the desire to move however your body pains coupled with long hours of work and/or stress make you feel fatigued and discouraged. You wouldn’t be alone if you admit to feeling this way pretty often. Adults ages 20 to 75 reported spending an average of 9.5 hours sedentary each day, according to Research on Sedentary Behavior in US Adults from Medicine & Science in Sports & Medicine (2021). In this article, we will be looking at how our developed sedentary lifestyle has pushed us to seek modalities such as yoga. We will explore why people seek yoga specifically, if it treats the issues we struggle with, and how yoga falls short in its ability to address the root cause.
Collaboration with Nature
Yoga is described as a combination of breathing control, meditation, and body postures which lead to perfect collaboration between the practitioner’s body and mind with nature (1). You could say that the intention behind yoga is to bring us back into alignment, balancing all the aspects of our being to take us out of pain and give us peace so that we can operate in nature seamlessly. When painted in this light, yoga sounds promising for us modern humans. In this day and age we are disconnected from the outdoors, and experiencing high rates of illness and injury.
No surprise people are flocking to yoga classes, hoping it will be the key back into nature, leading to less aches and pains, and giving us the peace we so eagerly seek in life.
But if alignment is the key, it makes sense to look at our own bodies. Are our bodies in alignment? In the physical body, alignment would be posture. Perhaps you’ve heard it said before that you can see someone’s confidence in their posture, and we don’t believe that’s too far from the truth. Truly confident people tend to exude a sense of health, standing up straight and moving calmly.
If you’ve made a similar observation and wonder how yoga for good posture can be achieved, let’s first take a closer look into the practice.
Can Yoga Fix Bad Posture?
While meditation and breath work are part of the yoga tradition, classes mostly involve stretching muscles in a variety of ways. Many believe yoga can be helpful for bad posture or back pain, giving them relief and an improved sense of well-being. Yet stretching is incredibly overrated. Studies indicate no significant influence of stretching over results such as flexibility, warm up and injury prevention, treatment of soreness, treatment of chronic pain or performance enhancement (2). And while yoga isn’t just stretching, there are components of yoga practices that require pulling or pushing a muscle beyond its typical range in order to achieve a pose or position. Again, if stretching by itself doesn’t help one achieve the desired results as listed above, neither will doing it in yoga.
Athletes and sports-related enthusiasts are catching wind there are better ways of spending their time then yoga to address their body’s pain and poor posture. Even ballerinas, renowned for their good posture, are giving up stretching in Australia to avoid injury and focus on strengthening (3).
Can Yoga Damage Your Spine?
Scientific research explores the relationship of Yoga for musculoskeletal pain, relief from which is one of the primary reasons people seek the practice. Data indicates that yoga can cause pain (4), acute and chronic adverse effects (5), and injury; the trunk, or chest region, showing the highest frequency of injury (6).
One of the developed symptoms of a sedentary lifestyle is a slouched back or rounded shoulders due to the position of the body while sitting. Mix this with working long hours and dealing with stressful situations without giving yourself a moment to reset, this will eventually affect how you are able to hold your body in space. There are yoga poses for posture correction and classes dedicated to reversing the compression of your spine, however there is little evidence this works and perhaps even a greater risks that will effect your long term health.Yogis are warning of issues ranging from mild injuries to permanent disabilities (7). Famous yoga teacher and bodyworker Glenn Black admits that he informs those who come to him after suffering major traumas, not to do yoga, because “if they continue, their bodies won’t hold up” (8).
A Blind Eye to Evolution
Yogis and scientists dodge the flaws; blaming improper alignment in poses, poor training of instructors, and pushing stretches too far as the reasons practitioners are reporting pain and injury. If yoga is supposed to be bringing us balance and alignment, shouldn’t better posture in our bodies be a result of those efforts? Yoga may fall short because the technique fails to respect our biological characteristics as humans.
Around 4.4 million years ago, our descendants from African apes became noticeably divergent, evident from the 1994 skeleton discovery which showed she differed from her tree swinging and knuckle walking ancestors as shockingly upright. Environmental stressors drove primal humans to stand, walk, run, and throw with increasing efficiency (9). Homo Sapiens, the most recent human species, began asserting dominance in the animal kingdom around 400,000 years ago — and we certainly didn’t reach the top of the food chain by stretching or holding yoga poses!
If we are to get back to nature, reconnecting our minds and bodies to our physical reality, we cannot simply push and pull our bodies into forms that do not align with the forms we used to evolve as a species.
Reclaim Your Roots
If attempting to use yoga for posture correction and thus overall wellbeing, you may find yourself falling short of your goals. We believe you must train in relation to our evolutionary adaptations to fix how your body holds itself in space. Better posture requires the body to work as a system, and it can’t be achieved simply through stretching and poses. Functional Patterns provides a tested formula to create a sustainable structure and better posture: Start with 10 Week Online Course today.