How Yoga Elongates the Spine
Ever heard the idea that practicing yoga can make you taller? The promise of gaining a few inches draws many people to yoga, an exercise that uses poses called asanas to increase strength, flexibility, and balance.
There is some truth to the idea that yoga can make you “grow.” With regular practice, yoga elongates the spine. Certain asanas focus on stretching the spine, increasing the space between vertebrae. As you create this space, you also develop muscles to support the extension. The end result is that you’ll be able to stand taller over time.
But can practicing yoga actually make you grow taller? If you’re a full grown adult, the answer is no . . . and yes. Technically speaking, you cannot gain height with yoga. The length of your bones determines how tall you are. So if you’re done growing, there is no way your bones will grow longer (unless, of course, you undergo painful height increase surgery). However, due to yoga’s spine-elongating benefits, you can appear taller as your posture improves.
Some people claim to have “grown” as much as 3 inches after practicing yoga. While the yoga didn’t make their bones get any longer, the practice most likely helped them to correct curvatures in their spines. This posture-correcting effect allowed them to stand taller and, therefore, gain height.
Besides helping you elongate your spine and maybe correct a curvature, yoga also has the added benefit of making people aware of their posture. Most standing and sitting asanas will develop core strength. And with this core strength comes better posture. You are more likely to catch yourself slumping or slouching if you’re used to supporting yourself correctly with yoga.
Poses To Stretch Your Spine
When it comes to gaining height, not all yoga poses are created equal. If added height is your goal, you will want to focus on poses that stretch and strengthen the spine. Here are some suggestions:
Cat Pose. This pose involves stretching just like your cat does after a long nap. First lay down on the floor with your hands and legs just like a cat. Your knees, hips, and shoulders should form a 90 degree angle while your calves and feet are relaxed. Inhale and drop your stomach to the floor as you lift your head to look up at the ceiling. Push into your hands and then exhale as you begin to bend your spine to the sky and rotate your head back down to look at your stomach. Try to sync your breathing with the movement as you switch between head-up and head-down poses. Hold these two positions for five to ten seconds.
Cobra Pose. Resembling the hood of a snake, cobra pose is a very simple stretch that is good for your back. Lie down on your stomach. Place your hands either right underneath your shoulders or just outside the shoulders, being sure to keep your elbows back and out. Relax your body. Raise your body and let your back bend. Hold the pose for ten to fifteen seconds.
Half Tortoise Pose. The half tortoise pose is a relaxing pose that also stretches the back. Begin by sitting on the floor with the bottom half of your legs tucked under your knees. Rest your hands on your thighs. Slowly inhale and raise both hands out to the side, ending over your head. Exhale and slowly bend forward until your hands touch the ground. Try to touch your elbows and your forehead to the floor. Relax your body and breathe slowly in and out ten times. Then slowly breathe in and bring your head up, taking your arms overhead again. Exhale and let your arms come out and rest on your thighs in starting position.
See photos for examples of the finished poses.