Good posture is more than just good manners. Most people aren’t breathing properly and their bodies show it. They tend to take shallow breaths into their chest rather than breathing deep into their diaphragm muscles. This adds to the tension in the neck and shoulders and can limit your thoracic spine and shoulder mobility.

The body is a kinetic chain, all parts linking together. As magnificent as this is, it also means when one part is in a state of dysfunction, it is going to bring others with it. Such is the case with posture. The loss of mobility in the thoracic spine and shoulders can lead to an increase in shoulder injuries.

Shallow breath can cause a host of problems as well. Your body perceives shallow breathing as a state of panic as if you are being chased by a lion. When your body believes it is in danger, it signals the stress response and goes into ‘survival mode’. That stress response signals cortisol, a fat storing hormone.

On top of that, in survival mode, your body wants to hold onto everything it has, including fat. Now, your body doesn’t want to give up any fat and is more likely to store whatever it takes in. Living in this state on a daily basis can have harsh effects on your weight.

An easy exercise that helps restore proper movement in your thoracic spine and shoulders is crocodile breathing. Yoga has been practicing this for centuries. This simple technique is great for retraining your body to breathe naturally, reducing stress in the moment taking you out of your stress response, and allowing your shoulders to rest naturally.

Lie face down with your forehead on top of your hands for a neutral neck. Inhale deeply, feel your abdominals press into the floor and exhale completely. Allow your shoulders to relax a little more with each exhale. Repeat for up to 5 minutes before your workout or anytime you are feeling very tight in the upper back/neck area.

Pregnant women and people with hernias should consult a doctor before trying this.