Will Yoga Help Me Grow Taller?
Learn how good posture feels with Tree pose.
If you've reached adulthood, nothing is going to change your skeleton's height — but that's not to say you can't maximize what you've got.
Yoga can't physically add inches, but it can improve your posture so you appear taller and more confident. Poses have the power to strengthen your back muscles, core and shoulders so you automatically sit and stand in a way that honors your natural curves, but doesn't exaggerate them by having you slump forward or sway back.
Accept What You Cannot Change
Although you can't make your height increase, but you do naturally lose height as you age. This is because the cartilage between the vertebrae in the spine wears down and becomes thinner and, as a result, you get a little shorter. Osteoporosis weakens bones and also decreases your height. A final aspect of aging, called sarcopenia, may also cause you to look shorter as you reach your golden years. Sarcopenia is the natural loss of muscle mass — if it's severe enough, you simply can't stand up to your full height
When it comes to getting taller, however, you're out of luck. No changing your skeleton in the up direction. The length of your bones is genetically determined.
However, a regular yoga practice continued for life helps combat osteoporosis (if you're including strong poses such as Warriors and Chaturanga) and attenuates the loss of muscle mass, too. This, in effect, prevents you from losing height.
When you slouch, whether it's because of poor self-esteem, chronic texting or hours spent sitting in a chair hunched over a computer, you appear shorter than you really are.
Poor postural habits begin at a young age.
Yoga helps strengthen the muscles of the upper back and those that surround the shoulder blades and spine. When these muscles are strong, they keep your chest lifted and your core tight, so you're naturally lifted. A practice to combat slouching includes poses such as Cobra, Locust and Spine Balance.
To do Cobra: Lie on your belly and place your hands underneath your shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and press the tops of your feet and pubic bone toward the mat. Use your back to lift your face and chest up into a slight arc. Hold for several breaths. Avoid using your hands to push you up; focus on the muscles in the lower back.
A Crescent Lunge addresses tight hip flexors.
Hip Flexor Fix
Another muscle group that, when tight, can negatively affect posture is your hip flexors. Located at the front of your hips and attaching your legs to your spine, the hip flexors become tight when you sit a lot, as happens in many of today's job sites or for commuters who spend a lot of time in the car. You'll notice this results in a slight swayback, or anterior tilt of the pelvis. Poses such as Warrior I and Crescent Lunge address tight hip flexors.
To do Warrior I: Stand with your feet about 3 feet apart. Turn your right toes straight ahead and bend the right knee. Ground your left foot at about a 45-degree angle, keeping the left leg straight. Reach your arms up past your ears and breathe. Repeat with the left foot forward.
Experience Good Posture
A regular yoga practice will also train you to notice what a tall posture feels like. No slumping allowed in poses such as Tree or Mountain, for example. A regular visit to Virasana, or Hero's pose, also honors your back's natural curves and resists slouching.
To do Virasana: Kneel on your shins and rest your buttocks on your heels. If your quadriceps and hips allow, slide your buttocks to the floor between your heels. Keep your feet tucked next to your thighs. Rest your palms on your knees, sit up tall and breathe. If the pose is too intense on your knee joint, place a block or two under your buttocks to increase the angle of the knee bend.
Andrea Boldt has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.