Posture, breath, and balance are fundamental to wellness, yet few of us are actively incorporating them into our everyday lives. For example, how are you sitting or standing right now? Have you noticed taking a breath recently? Are you actively using your core muscles to stay upright and balanced? Bring greater awareness to these synergistic fundamentals and become less stressed, safer from injury and more self-aware in your environment. Indeed, physical, mental and emotional health all start with the Big Three.
Learn the basics of balance – how our vision, inner ear, and strength of muscles and joints all work together to help us balance. We will focus on techniques and exercises aimed at improving balance for all ages, and create balance habits that can be incorporated into everyday situations. Click the video below to view an exercise we’ll be doing in most every class: toe lifts!
Thursdays: March 8th-April 12th – 1:00-2:00pm
Swarthmore Borough Hall – Council Room – 121 Park Ave – Swarthmore, PA
$56 for 6 sessions: Sign up through Wallingford Swarthmore Community Classes website, spaces fill up fast!
Instructor: Ann MacMullan Jeans, a native of Swarthmore, is a certified yoga instructor (RYT-200) and teaches yoga, mindfulness, and movement classes. She is dedicated to helping people establish greater awareness through breath and movement in their homes, workplaces, and communities.
The first of the foundations in our series is posture. We can all recall as kids being asked to stand or sit up straight. Correct posture is essential to health and well-being. Why? Because posture affects breathing, lung capacity, and overall energy levels. Slumping or slouching compresses the lungs and decreases the volume of the breath. This limits oxygen inflow, vital to maintaining peak energy levels and proper functioning of muscles, nerves and all major systems of the body. Hours in front of a TV or staring at a smart phone can weaken the core muscles of the back and abdomen while tightening those of the hips, chest, shoulders and neck. We can reverse the influences of our modern lifestyle by paying attention to posture.
First, take stock of how you sit.
Proper Seated Posture
Feet planted flat on the floor or footrest
Avoid crossing the legs
Ankles directly below the knees
Knees level with the hips
Knees, hips and shoulders level
Forearms parallel to ground
Midsection engaged and pulled in
Breath directed into upper chest
Next, notice how you stand.
Proper Standing Posture
Body weight even on both feet Feet hip-distance apart
Feet and knees pointed straight ahead
Hips even, stomach tucked in
Back straight without rounding or arching
Shoulders even, pulled back and down
Chin level with the ground
Reversing Bad Posture
Noticing your posture throughout the day is a great place to start. A few simple exercises can help us begin to reverse the effects of our bad posture habits. One of our favorites is the Seated Spinal Stretch. We love doing this throughout the day when we’ve been behind a desk for a while or as a way to transition from one activity to another, like getting out of bed in the morning. This simple but effective spinal stretch can also be performed on the hands and knees where it is referred to in yoga as the Cat-Cow Pose.
Seated Spinal Stretch
Place your hands on your knees. Inhale, pulling the shoulders up, back and down, expanding chest – arching the back.
Exhale, straighten the arms, tucking stomach towards the spine, and press down into knees – rounding the back.
Building Everyday Postural Awareness
Take frequent breaks to stand and walk if seated for extended periods
Plant feet firmly on the floor anytime while seated
Keep shoulders back and chin level whenever using a smart phone
Switch a handbag between shoulders throughout the day
Posture is critical to balance: when the bones and joints are in correct alignment, less strain is placed on the back. This makes any activity safer and easier, from walking to the corner store to carrying groceries up the stairs. There are very few daily activities that do not depend on proper posture, solid balance and effective breathing. According to Harvard Health Publications, greater attention to everyday habits can visibly improve posture within weeks!
If you can breathe, you can practice yoga! No matter your age, level of mobility or fitness, there is a yoga practice for you. Yoga is generally low-impact and safe when practiced appropriately under the guidance of a well-trained instructor.
“Whether you’re a couch potato or a professional athlete, size and fitness levels do not matter because there are modifications for every yoga pose and beginner classes in every style,” Dr. Natalie Nevins, D.O., on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association.
We truly believe yoga is for everyone, that’s why we offer mat and chair sessions for all levels. We are passionate about bringing the principles of yoga – physical postures, meditation, and breathing – to atypical populations, outside of the classic yoga studio space, and offer our classes in community, corporate, and private settings where participants can feel supported while safely finding their own practice. Feel free to explore our Class Calendarfor more details on when and where.
Aging gracefully: Our health and the rate at which we age entirely depends on our choices. We can actually reverse or slow down the pace at which we age by practicing yoga and meditation! This is not just a self-aggrandizing claim from some yoga teacher, this is from an evidence-based study, the first study to demonstrate improvement in both cardinal and metabotrophic biomarkers of cellular aging and longevity in apparently healthy population after Yoga and Meditation based lifestyle intervention.
Gentle Yoga: Our largest class, you’ll find an age range from twenties and thirties all the way into the eighties! The sessions are accessible for all levels, and blocks and straps are provided to help deepen and achieve poses. “Gentle” refers to an attitude of taking exquisite care of ourselves in each moment throughout the class. We explore a variety of reclining, seated and standing postures (asana) and the transitions between those poses, adapted to your level. In addition, we’ll learn more about the limbs of yoga beyond asana or the physical postures, such as meditation (dhyana) and breath-work (pranayama.) See Classes for more info.
Yoga for Men with Brian: This class is specifically designed for men of all shapes, sizes and ability levels to build strength and flexibility in a comfortable informal setting. Men tend to have greater muscle mass and less range of movement and may be intimidated by a traditional yoga studio environment. We’ll work on how to build our core muscles to manage old injuries and prevent new ones, expand the range of movement in our shoulders, backs and hips, use the breath to improve posture and balance, and learn simple techniques for managing stress and developing work/life balance. See Classes for more info.
Hatha Yoga: Unwind with this gentle but challenging ancient form of exercise. Learn basic yoga asanas or postures to improve strength, balance, and flexibility while focusing on the thread of the breath that “yokes” the mind and body together. Whatever your age or level of fitness, you’re welcome to join this accessible yoga class with a real group spirit. Come practice with strangers and leave as friends! See Classes for more info.
Chair Yoga:Pull up a chair! All ages and mobility levels are welcome. Learn breathing techniques, easy stretches, and specific yoga poses adapted for the chair. Props like blocks and straps are used to help support, achieve, or deepen a pose. Improve your balance with standing poses that use the chair for support, if it’s in your practice. We underline the importance of focusing on the breath, as breath-connected movement is essential for health and well-being, fusing mind and body. Come refine your posture, improve balance, strength and flexibility – in a supportive and relaxing community environment. It’s called a “practice” because there is no “perfect” in yoga. See Classes for more info.
Chair Yoga at Assisted Living Facilities: We have been doing this since 2015, at first as a way to bring activity into Ann’s grandmother Ellie’s life. Teaching chair yoga to those who are between seventy and a hundred years old quickly became something we are very passionate about, and currently offer different yoga programs for all levels throughout the Philadelphia area. Contact us for more info on bringing chair yoga to your community! We have seen the benefits firsthand – our students report that yoga has helped them remain independent longer.
Private Sessions: We adapt each session to your individual needs so you can participate safely in a comfortable environment, scheduled at a time that is most convenient for you. We can work in your home, or feel free to visit us in our studio in South Philly. We are often in the Wallingford-Swarthmore area and work with individuals, couples, and small groups. Celebrate the moment with a special group session! Mats, blocks and straps provided. Contact us or more info.
Corporate Yoga: We love bringing the tools of self-care into the workplace! Contact us to set up a special event or weekly session.
Check out the Feedback Page to hear what some of our students of all shapes, sizes, ages and mobility levels say about practicing yoga with Team Sun Wellness. Our full line up can be found on the Class Calendar!