15 Minutes of Yoga: Using a Wall for Better Posture
Picture this, you’ve been sitting in front of your computer for several hours and feel that your neck, shoulders and back are getting tight. You notice that you’re feeling tired and no longer working productively.
You could go and get yet another cup of coffee or you could take a short break from your computer and do some mobility work to help improve your posture and feel more energized.
If you’re still reading, I guess you chose the mobility work over the cup of coffee. 😉 Or perhaps you’re reading this with a cup of coffee on your break and thinking about doing a short yoga practice!
Making time for a break to do 15 minutes of yoga can be a really helpful way to work on your mobility, posture, and energy levels. And by using a wall in your practice you can help improve your posture both in yoga poses and off the yoga mat.
If you’ve spent enough time sitting and are ready to roll out your mat and get moving you can practice along with my 15 minute of yoga sequence focused on improving your overall posture using wall support.
Why Practice Yoga Poses with the Support of a Wall?
Do you ever find yourself wondering whether you are doing a yoga pose correctly? Should your right foot be further to the right in Warrior 1 Pose? Or what about the positioning of your hips in Downward Facing Dog Pose?
Using the support of a wall during your yoga practice will provide you with useful feedback about your body’s position in space through a series of different yoga poses.
During your yoga practice the wall can act as your guide. Giving you information about the positioning of parts of your body that you can’t see directly but are able to feel via the support of the wall.
Why does our alignment in a yoga pose matter?
“Proprioception is the sense that lets us perceive the location, movement, and action of parts of the body. It encompasses a complex of sensations, including perception of joint position and movement, muscle force, and effort.” – J.L. Taylor, Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, 2009.
By being more aware of where specific parts of our body are in space during our yoga practice we can increase our sense of proprioception. Also, by understanding the required physical actions of active stretching in a variety of different yoga poses we can ensure we work effectively on building flexibility and strength by engaging and lengthening the required muscle groups.
Increased proprioception will support our alignment in yoga poses and our posture throughout the day.
And with our yoga practice only making up a small part of our day, our proprioception of our posture sitting, standing and moving throughout the day is even more important than our ability to improve our posture during our yoga practice!
15 Minute Yoga Practice Against a Wall
The following sequence of nine poses provides a supportive 15 minute yoga routine that can be done against a wall. You’ll see that throughout this practice we’ll be using the wall as a support and tool for our posture and alignment.
Don’t have much free wall space at home?
This shouldn’t stop you being able to do this practice! As you can see in the pictures below you can make do with a small amount of wall space and can always try moving some furniture around to give yourself a bit of wall space.
(1) Baddha Konasana Arms Up
Come to sit close to the wall with the back of your hips resting against the wall. Bring your feet together and the knees apart. Allow the back of your shoulders to rest against the wall as you interlace the fingers and reach the arms up and over the head here.
If you notice that your knees are pretty high and it's difficult to sit up tall you could try sitting up on a yoga block. This will give you more space in your hips to sit up tall. While if your shoulders are tight you could bend your elbows a little and bring your hands a bit further forward.
With every exhale see if you can gently drop the back of the shoulders and hips towards the wall. And then with the inhale, see how it feels to lengthen and reach a little up through your arms and upper body.
Staying here for ten slow breaths.
(2) Baddha Konasana Forward Fold
For this next variation you can keep the legs and hips where they are as you gently release the arms. You can bring your arms come a little forward and gaze down.
If this feels intense in the inner thighs you could instead place your hands on the ankles. While you slowly press back and ground the back of your hips into the wall.
Staying here for another ten breaths. And then from here, you can slowly come up.
(3) Chair Pose Against the Wall
So the feet are going to be hip distance apart and we're coming to sit back on the wall. You want to drop your hips so that they are coming in line with the knees. But if that feels too intense you could have the hips a little more up.
Allow your lower back to be heavy here against the wall as you engage through your belly. Arms reach up and lengthen. Gaze can be looking softly down or a little in front here.
See—as challenging as it might feel—if you can keep the breath flowing slowly and steadily. Nice slow inhale and slow exhale. And then after five breaths, you can slowly exhale release the arms, and gently come out of the pose.
(4) Forward Fold With the Wall
As a soothing counterpose, we're going to fold forward over our legs with the back of your hips and buttocks resting on the wall.
You can bend the knees as much as you need to ease out the stretch in your hamstrings as you gently fold forward. Your hands could be holding somewhere on the outside of your legs and your head dropping down.
This time you're leaning the weight of your buttocks a little towards the wall and relaxing your upper body. Staying here around ten breaths.
(5) Triangle Pose With the Wall
For this next posture we’ll be using the wall to help the alignment of our hips and shoulders. You can walk the feet a little wider out to the side. Again feeling the back of the shoulders and back of the hips against the wall.
Spin your right foot out to the right and see if you can keep drawing the left hip back to the wall.
Arms come wide to the side. And then you're bringing your right arm down towards your right knee as you reach the left arm up. See if you can keep allowing the back of the left shoulder to drop into the wall.
Staying here for around five breaths and then repeat on the opposite side.
(6) Tree Pose With the Wall
This time we’re going to be balancing on one leg with the support of the wall behind us in case we need it. So you’re going to stand a little in front of the wall but close enough that your fingertips can reach back and potentially hold the wall if you need it.
We’ll start by shifting the weight into the left leg and then we're going to inhale and reach the right knee up as we balance on the left leg. So you could bring the right foot to the inside of the left leg—above or below your left knee.
If you're wanting to use a little bit the support of the wall, you might see how it feels to just bring that foot a little higher than you might usually do and if needed fingertips could be resting on the wall. And then once you feel steady in the balance you can gradually move the fingertips away from the wall.
Staying in the pose for around five breaths. And then on the next exhale you can gently release and change sides.
(7) Upavistha Konasana Arms Up
We’re coming back down to sitting with the hips resting close against the wall. This time the legs are opening wide out to the side.
Now this is a challenging pose so if it feels intense or hard to sit upright your knees can be a little bent here. Feet are flexed and toes pointing up.
Take a moment to adjust so that both of your hips are really nice and heavy in the wall. And then we're going to interlace the fingers, reach the arms up and over the head here. Seeing if you can gently press your hips, shoulders, and maybe hands into the wall.
Gaze can be looking softly down as you stay here for ten breaths.
(8) Upavistha Konasana Forward Fold
Legs stay nice and active as you release your arms and bring your hands down in between your legs. Keep drawing the hips back towards the wall behind you and ease the weight of your upper body a little forward.
Now if this is quite intense, or if the legs are still a little bent, you might stay in a more upright position with your hands close to your hips. But if it's comfortable you could experiment again with folding further forward from your hips and letting your upper body and arms reach away from the wall.
You can stay here for another five or ten breaths.
Hip Opener Relaxation
Finally, we're going to come to lie down on the back for a gentle hip opener using the wall. Your knees are going to open wide to the side with your feet resting on the wall.
See if you can allow your feet to opening out in line with your knees so that you are in a supported hip opener with the wall. If it feels a bit intense, feet and knees can be a little more in towards each other rather than having the knees opening so wide out to the side.
Hands can rest on the inner thighs and you can softly close your eyes. Staying here anywhere from ten breaths to several minutes.
15 Minutes of Yoga Routine
So here you have a great 15 minutes of yoga routine that you can use to focus on improving your alignment, posture, and proprioception.
Is it the first time you’re practicing yoga with the support of a wall?
Remember that it will feel different to doing the same yoga pose without a wall. And so make sure you try it out a few times to get familiar with how you’re using the wall to support your alignment and posture.
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