Do you spend hours sitting at your desk hunched over your laptop? How long did you spend today scrolling through your phone with your neck out of line with your spine? And if you’ve got a newborn, I’m sure you’ve felt the effects of countless hours spent feeding, carrying and settling your baby.
This bad posture is the curse of modern-day Mummas and results in tight shoulders, neck pain and upper and lower back ache. It also restricts our breathing, meaning we take shallower breaths – not ideal when you’re pregnant and your lungs are already being squished from the bottom.Rounding through the shoulders and upper back tends to make us feel less happy (depressed even) and less confident than if we were to stand up tall with our shoulders back.Your Mum was right when she told you to stand up straight and pull your shoulders back! Make it a daily habit to counteract this relentless hunching with these simple yet effective heart openers. Not only will it correct your posture, enable you to take deeper breaths, but also lift your spirits and confidence. Here’s my favourite heart openers which are safe to do both during pregnancy and postnatally:
1. Half-dog at the wall
You do not need a wall to do this; you can also do it on a kitchen bench top, table or sofa.Place your hands at shoulder-width apart, walking your feet back until your upper body comes parallel with the floor. You can move side to side and bend one knee peeking out under the arm.
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Imagine there is a big clock hanging on your wall. Your arms will be the hands of the clock. Place one arm pointing up at twelve o’clock.You need a strong foundation through the feet, keeping them about hip-width apart. The further you are away from the wall the easier it is to do this pose. Moving closer to the wall will make it a little more challenging.Move your arm from twelve o’clock to one o’clock, to two o’clock and eventually to three o’clock. Keep your other shoulder pulling back. Hold each of those stages for a few moments and when finished let your arm dangle down by your side to feel the wonderful openness you’ve created.Turn around and do the same for your other arm.
3. Chair pose with cactus arms
Sit back at the wall, as if you’re sitting in a chair with your lower back imprinting against the wall and your knees pointing forward. Bring your arms up like cactus arms. Keep pressing your lower back against the wall. The arms, including the backs of the hands and the elbows, should also press against the wall. You can pulse your arms up and down. Not only is this a stretch but also a great way to strengthen your upper back and legs.
3. Doorway stretch
You will need to do this pose using a door frame. Place both hands on the sides of the door frame. Step forward into a lunge, press your chest forward while pressing your hands or arms against the wall. You can also do a variations by pressing your hands on the top edge of the door frame and lunging forwards.