with Caitlin Parsons, owner of Caitlin Parsons Yoga Therapy and Aligned, a monthly wellness membership program.
Let’s be real, sitting for extended periods of time is simply not good for our bodies–we need to find a way to have good posture when sitting. Our bodies were simply not meant to be in the same position for a while. It puts pressure on specific areas of the body even if we have good posture, but let’s get down to the important piece here–it’s SO IMPORTANT to have good posture when you’re sitting so that you do alleviate pain and discomfort now and in the future.
If you want more details about why sitting is bad for you, check out this article for more information on the dangers of sitting.
There are a few important things to be mindful of when you’re sitting – whether at a desk or not – for long periods of time. I’m talking in the car, on an airplane, or even in the waiting room of a doctors office.
I’m going to share the important tools with you here AND share with you some tips for improving your posture even more! If you’re interested in a $5 Workshop based on these practices, grab the free class on my website here.
Body Awareness for Having Good Posture When Sitting
Maintaining a Long Spine for Good Posture when Sitting
First, you need to make sure your spine stays long when you’re sitting. If you are rounding or arching your back too much, your body isn’t working the way that it’s meant to– it’s working harder. In these cases, muscles on one side of the body (front or back) are going to be overworked, become tight and less mobile. While the muscles on the opposite side of the body are going to become weak from lack of use. In the case of rounding our backs, the front of your body becomes tight and weak, while the back of your body becomes overworked and tired, and therefore weak and immobile. The opposite is true for arching the back.
(Side bends, back bends + forward folds help with this)
Here are the three things you need to know to make this to happen:
- Being able to have awareness for your posture throughout the day
- Learning to strengthen/stabilize the back and core muscles
Learning to stretch/release tension from other areas, like the chest, shoulders and low back.
- I have a tip for making this easier below!
The second piece is maintaining an open chest. Meaning that from the outside of one shoulder to the outside of the opposite shoulder is a long line. When you let the chest collapse, it puts a lot of pressure on the neck and shoulders, and other areas of the spine. In addition, a closed-off chest can affect your breathing, your lungs, and the function of your nervous system.
(Back bends help with this)
No Text Neck
Making sure your head is in line with the rest of your spine is KEY, and the next piece I want to discuss. With the rise of texting, phone use and being on computers, we see an increase in “Text Neck” – the condition that happens when your chin is jutting forward. The research out there suggests that just with your head leaning forward a few degrees, it can add up to 40 lbs of pressure onto your spine!!!!! You will likely feel this discomfort in your neck, chest, shoulders, spine and even down to the low back! I have a secret for this, keep reading!
(Back bends + stretches for the neck and shoulders help with this)
The last piece to the puzzle that’s super important to pay attention to when we’re sitting for extended periods of time is that your hips stay even. That means none of this leaning to one side action or hiking one leg on top of the other. This plays a role in what happens in your lower body but more specifically, it affects your spine and creates an imbalance in the muscles and vertebrae of your low back. Learn to engage the core and keep your hips steady.
(learning how to sit and move properly is crucial here- more info on Low Back Stretches here!)
Tips for Maintaining Good Posture When Sitting Throughout the Day
Your Set Up is Important
The first and most obvious one that I love helping clients with is adjusting their workstation so that it’s ergonomically friendly. That means ensuring that your desk and chair are at the right height for your feet, hips and arms. It means making sure that your monitor is at eye-level so your neck is in good posture. It means checking that the positioning of your mouse and keyboard are on target so that your wrists, elbows and shoulders aren’t at weird angles.
This article breaks down posture at length.
ALL of these things play a big role in how you’ll feel at the end of the time. If you want support for setting up your work space properly, let me help you–click here so we can set up a time to connect.
Take Breaks to Get Up
One of the hardest things on our bodies is maintaining a seated position for hours on end without bringing in movement. Getting the blood flowing to area’s that become restricted when you’re sitting is priority. This means getting up and taking a short walk, a water or bathroom break, or even going to have an in-person conversation with a co-worker versus email. This helps to get the blood pumping and will help prevent you from feeling sluggish, tired or weak.
Take Stretching Breaks
One of my favorite things. A stretching break doesn’t mean you need to leave your computer. You can actually do a lot of stretching right from your chair. Check out my free Neck and Shoulder Mini Class & Training to learn more about how you can incorporate this into your day.
If you’re logging long hours, you need this hack! Most people roll their eyes when I tell them that they can roll a blanket or use a pillow behind their backs on their chair to help support their posture, yet when they incorporate it, they can’t believe how helpful it is! It helps to not only take pressure off your body but it helps to promote good posture without having to work your body so hard because let’s be real, it does take time and dedication to improve your posture in a sustainable way. If you’re interested in improving your posture with yoga therapy, I highly recommend checking out Aligned, my monthly membership with 100+ classes designed to help you alleviate pain!
If you’re interested in findng the perfect pillow to fit your needs, check out this site for amazing pillow options.
Towel Support for Your Head
Sounds weird but just wait. This is my magic trick for car rides. Take a face cloth or something of similar size and roll it up. Place it behind your head while you’re sitting against something high enough for a head rest. This helps to build muscle memory and strength in the back of your neck and upper back. When you create muscle memory, you create change in posture.
I want to help you live a pain free life
I don’t know how many people that I know who experience pain in their bodies while they are sitting. In fact, according to , most people who sit for the majority of the day experience pain in their body throughout their career. By incorporating these pieces and committing to being more mindful in your journey to improve posture, you will start to feel better day by day.
If you want further support or you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
If you’re interested in therapeutic yoga classes, practices and trainings that will help you live pain free, improve your posture + get you back to healthy again, check out Aligned. Aligned is my monthly wellness membership program where you get access to over 100 video classes to practice at home, your office or even on-the-go!
Can’t wait to practice with you in Aligned,
Ready to learn yoga poses for back pain, heal chronic pain & feel your best?
Aligned Online is a monthly membership program for people that want to lead a pain free life and ditch chronic pain aches, & injuries by improving posture, building strength & mobility & managing stress through guided yoga therapy classes.
Free Healthy Posture Masterclass
Register to join me for a free Healthy Posture Masterclass! I’ll teach you tools to help improve your posture and feel better throughout your daily life!
About the Author
My name is Caitlin, I’m a chronic pain survivor, Certified Yoga Therapist, Registered Dental Hygienist, and founder and CEO of Caitlin Parsons Yoga Therapy, a yoga therapy and wellness company. I recently made my dreams a reality by quitting my full-time job as a dental hygienist to pursue my passion and purpose helping others get back into alignment.
Now I use my personal and professional experiences with chronic pain, stress and anxiety, and injury recovery to help women step back into their own alignment – in their bodies, minds and throughout their lives. I help empower women to create balance in their bodies and minds so they can access greater levels of freedom in their lives inside my monthly membership program (Aligned), group coaching program for hygienists (The Aligned Hygienist), a Yoga + Coaching Program for Dental Teams, and private yoga therapy coaching.
I love to share my knowledge and expertise on mindfulness and therapeutic yoga for back pain through my blog and social media platforms as well as guest appearances on other inspiring and like-minded podcasts.
Client Success Stories
“I started working with Caitlin because I had recently gotten surgery from a brain tumor. I had very little mobility in my shoulder and arm. I was concerned that the lack of mobility, discomfort and reduced strength would increase chances for more pain and injury. Working with Caitlin was amazing, I would recommend her personal approach to anyone. She is dedicated to her work, has great knowledge and communication. Caitlin does a wonderful job guiding you back to your body and yourself.” – Ania
“I started working with Caitlin because I had chronic low back pain and regular flare-ups. I was told by multiple doctors that I would always be in pain and my posture would never improve unless I had surgery. The pain got so bad that I couldn’t play volleyball anymore, which created a negative spiral in my mood, energy and throughout my life. The results I got with Caitlin was amazing. I no longer have chronic pain or chronic acid reflux which I was on medication for. I’m much healthier and happier now than I ever have been!” – Russ M.
“I started working with Caitlin because I had neck pain, shoulder pain, neck congestion and ringing in my ears. I was working a lot, taking care of my family, and I was beginning to spiral downwards in a state of stress and pain. With all of that, life became a chore. I wanted to learn how to take care of myself so I could live a happy life and take care of my responsibilities from a place of joy, not dread. I wanted to get my neck to a place where it wasn’t painful and tightening every time I was stressed.
Now I no longer have neck pain or tightness, I’m stressed and ear ringing has greatly reduced. My body feels so much better as a whole. Caitlin helped me find peace. Caitlin has an innate sense of knowing how to tailor each session to fit how I’m feeling in my body and what I need. Caitlin helped me change the way I react to stress; now I’m more mindful of my reactions and the way I take care of my body. I’m stronger in my body and mind now which has positively affected my entire life.” – Donna M.
“I started working with Caitlin because I was completely disconnected from my body because of a genetic disease, having constant, chronic pain, extreme trouble sleeping and anxiety living in my own skin. I wanted to feel better- I wanted to have less pain and have a better quality of life–building strength and reconnecting with my body were a bonus. Working with Caitlin exceeded my expectations- I sleep so much better now and my pain has improved significantly. I’m less anxious and have practices to help when my symptoms flare. I’m more grounded and embodied, I have a daily yoga practice that continues to build on the foundation Caitlin helped me create.
Caitlin is incredible, she validated me and helped me work on my whole self. She customized everything to work specifically for me. I 100% recommend working with Caitlin. She believed that healing was possible and she held that vision for me and brought it to each session, and eventually I believed and embodied it too. She helped me find the power in every single baby step towards a more whole and healthy life, and I am completely transformed by it. This work isn’t the quick fix, it’s deep, holistic, soul-led healing.” – Hayley
“Working with Caitlin was the best thing I ever did for myself. I thought that I would always have pain because I’ve done so many things to try and help but they haven’t worked, until yoga therapy with Caitlin. Now I am living with less pain, my posture has improved, I am getting stronger, and my clothes are getting looser.” – Joan
“Before I came to Caitlin, I was taking Motrin and Tylenol on a daily basis like clockwork. I would skip going to the pool or out with my family after work due to the pain in my body. I was very depressed and isolating myself from activities that I really enjoy doing with my family and friends. I had pain on a daily basis in my lower back, shoulder blades, hips and left knee. Some days I had so much pain and inflammation in my body I felt like I couldn’t make it through the day.
Since starting FTF I am slowly starting to get control of my pain and inflammation through the online program one-on-one sessions with Caitlin. Inflammation is decreasing, I’m sitting up taller and I’m more aware of my posture both at work and in my daily routines outside of work. I am no longer having to take Motrin and Tylenol on a daily basis and I am able to walk longe distances without pain in my knees. “
“I never thought I would get out of back, knee, and postural pain. I also have a curvature in my back that I have been told most of my life cannot be changed. When I came to Caitlin, I wasn’t playing my favorite sport and I was miserable at work. Even doing simple things was really painful. Caitlin completely personalizes her services based on your needs. She takes considerable time to answer all of my questions and targets my sessions for exactly what I need that day and what my goals are. Caitlin always asks me what is going on and listens really well. She is a wealth of knowledge about yoga, human anatomy, and how humans should move. No two sessions are the same. We changed the way I move while doing simple things like sitting in a car or at my desk, putting dishes away and bending over to clean dog poop so that my back is protected from re-injury. I am healing my back partly to return to playing volleyball. I now understand how to be in my volleyball stances and movements so that I can avoid injury when I get back to playing. I am already standing up much straighter and feel more confident. I never thought I would feel this good in my body and I am so wow-ed by Caitlins mastery of her craft.” – Russel
“Caitlin really knows how to curate yoga program for sustainable strengthening. My shoulders and core used to be weaknesses but after a few sessions I see my posture has improved and the range of motion in my shoulders. She’s caring, fun, and a pleasure to work with. I’d recommend her to anyone interested in trying yoga therapy.”
“Caitlin is fantastic. I’ve gone to many of her classes, specifically those with a focus on healthy backs. I’ve worked with her as a therapist on issues I have with my neck and shoulders from work. She’s patient, attentive and offers focused one-on-one sessions. The exercises I’ve done really help me combat the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day, highly recommend working with this lovely and professional woman!!”
“Caitlin has helped me grow and learn a lot about myself. She helped me realize the strong power of breath when I was over stressed and unaware of my mental needs. Caitlin helped me focus my energy, both good and bad, on my breath. With every deep inhale and cleansing exhale, I felt my stress and anxiety lessen and lessen. Eight years later, my main mantra is to ‘just breathe.’ It has literally changed my life. Along with the power of breath, Caitlin has helped me keep a constant awareness of how I physically hold myself. Not only has my posture changed, but I have also become stronger and my confidence has increased. I recently began running and was having pain in my hip and side leg. Through working with Caitlin, my pain subsided. She put together an easy to follow yoga sequence that helped my muscles and ligaments heal. I fully trust in Caitlin as a yoga professional, and recommend her gentle way of teaching to anyone.”
“This program has been so amazing for my pain. In just one class, my neck and shoulder tension released more than it has in years. This program has been so instrumental in managing and controlling my stress. It’s so easy to be “on the hamster wheel”. I look forward to my yoga time and meditation and have noticed a huge difference in my pain level. My family has even noticed my calmer demeanor. I couldn’t believe how much my pain was linked to my stress.”