Good posture is the simplest secret to looking confident as you take those first steps down the aisle. No matter the nerves, standing straight instantly slims and sophisticates any figure. But it takes practice and strength to hold the perfect posture, and if you’re like the rest of us, you spend hours of every day at a desk, in a car, behind a counter, or curled on a couch in front of the TV. The result of these everyday positions? Weak back and core muscles, a tension-filled neck, and a tight chest.
To turn confidence into a habit that comes naturally on your big day, practice these simple exercises at least a few times each week.
The Wall Stand
What it does: Guides your muscles and joints into proper alignment.
How to do it: Stand with your feet together, arms at your side, back against a wall. Inch your feet backwards until your heels touch the baseboard, then press your lower back as close to the wall as you can (it probably won’t touch, and that’s okay). Press your shoulder blades against the wall and drop your shoulders. Lift your chin just slightly, touching the wall with the center of the back of your head. If you can’t get to this position at first, don’t feel frustrated. Your muscles and spine take time to form to proper alignment. Stand in this position for five full breaths.
What it does: Strengthens your lower back and the long, slender muscles (erector spinae) running parallel to both sides of your spine.
How to do it: Lie on your stomach with your legs extended behind you. Place your palms flat on the floor near your ribs and press the tops of your feet into the floor. Inhale, gently squeeze your booty (this stabilizes your lower back), and on an exhale push gently with your hands, raising your chest and upper back with your gaze straight ahead. Don’t lift your hips or feet, and don’t force it! Lower and repeat five times.
Double Arm Doorway Stretch
What it does: Releases built-up tension in your shoulders and back for a more open and relaxed posture
How to do it: Stand in a doorway and form the shape of a football goal post with your arms, placing your forearms against the doorway sides. Place one foot slightly in front of your body and one slightly behind to create a stable base, then tighten your stomach muscles and lean your upper body slightly forward, pressing your hands lightly into the doorjamb. You will feel a stretch in your chest, shoulders, and back. Do 3 sets of 30 seconds each. Remember to breath, and don’t press too far. Adjust the angle of your elbows or shoulders to find what feels best.
What it does: Tones arms, shoulders, core, back, butt, and legs to strengthen and stabilize your body as you move through your day.
How to do it: Start in a push-up position on the floor: legs extended behind you, arms pressing straight down with your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Bend your arms to rest your weight on your forearms, keeping the rest of your body in a straight, strong line hovering above the floor. Keep your neck in line with your spine and don’t lift or drop your butt. Breathe. Start by holding the position for 20 seconds, rest, and repeat two more times. Build your way up to holding for 30 seconds, and then a minute.
What it does: The curl-up is a modern version of the sit-up, working your abs and obliques but protecting your neck from strain.
How to do it: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Press your lower back into the floor and place your hands behind your head. Exhale strongly, pressing your stomach down towards your spine, and lift your neck and shoulders up towards the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds, then lower back to the floor. Repeat 5-10 times.
So if you only remember one thing, let it be to stand up straight. While a dewy complexion and a perfect dress will take you far, the simplest formula for that glowing entrance is this: chin up, shoulders back, heart lifted.
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