Getting "taller" through yoga?
December 7, 2013 5:11 AM   Subscribe

I have read on the internet many times that you can gain a few inches in "height" from doing yoga. How exactly does this happen? (Just spine getting straighter, and me standing with better posture?) Are there any actual measurements done on a sample of people before and after months of yoga to compare their height differential? What is actually a reasonable expectation for an "increase in height"? If my goal is yoga for height increase, which poses are the best to do? Thanks
posted by crawltopslow to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If my goal is yoga for height increase, which poses are the best to do?

If your goal for yoga is height increase, you should not do yoga because yoga will not make you taller. The reason is because if you are an adult, nothing will make you taller.

Height in humans is largely heritable, which means that your adult height is largely determined by genetic factors. Environmental factors are a small part of your health, and this takes the form of your childhood nutrition. If you are 18 or over, you have stopped growing. (barring some growth disorder)

If you improve your posture, you might look or stand taller, but you will not actually be taller. In other words, you could perhaps feel a bit taller but yoga will in no way promote physical growth of your body. If you have poor posture, just work on your posture directly.
posted by Tanizaki at 5:19 AM on December 7, 2013 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: I obviously know my bones won't grow, or I wan't truly get taller, but the top of my head can definitely be farther from the ground through yoga. I obviously know I have stopped growing. Helpful answers only please.
posted by crawltopslow at 5:25 AM on December 7, 2013 [7 favorites]

We get shorter with age due to spine compression. Practices like yoga help reverse/prevent this process.
posted by susanvance at 5:31 AM on December 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Andecdata:I have been doing yoga seriously for eight years, and I have not seen an increase in height. I do not know anyone who has seen an increase in height from doing yoga, and a lot of people in my community have been doing yoga seriously for a long time.
posted by munyeca at 5:31 AM on December 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have been practicing yoga since 1997 and have grown one inch (from 6'0" to 6'1") taller over that period as I aged from early 30s to mid 40s. This was gradual at annual checkups and I was incredulous but there it is. No idea if its the yoga or the several gallons of coffee I drink a day.
posted by shothotbot at 5:45 AM on December 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

Yoga will most likely improve your posture, which can make you appear taller, and most people have somewhat of a problem with posture due to sitting and computer use, etc. I have been a pretty serious yoga practitioner for a little while and there's been a noticeable improvement In my posture which I think makes me appear a little taller. I think also that developing core muscles through yoga allows you to sit up straighter easier. I'd imagine that all of the yoga poses contribute to better posture.

I don't think theres really anyway to say how much 'taller' YOU would get though.There are many other great reasons to practice yoga though; I hope this isn't your only motivation :-)
posted by bearette at 5:45 AM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

"I have read on the internet many times that you can gain a few inches in "height" from doing yoga."

The internet you've read is wrong about that. Yoga’s emphasis on alignment and posture can make you feel taller, but beware of claims by teachers or websites that promise actual physical growth. As you develop better posture, including standing straight and relaxing the shoulders, this can help you look taller. However, scientific research does not substantiate claims that yoga can make you taller.
posted by hush at 5:59 AM on December 7, 2013 [6 favorites] might improve your posture, which in turn might make you stand slightly taller, but you certainly won't be growing, and you certainly won't be standing a "few inches" taller.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 6:41 AM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I started doing some yoga-derived stretches for my back and I "grew" about 3/4 inch - but this was because I had had some kind of messed up back problems before. If you have a lot of stooping/compression/desk-job-ism, I would recommend any simple postures which focus on the feeling of "lengthening" the spine; also the tree pose and downward dog.

I think the take-away is that for some people, yoga (or yoga-derived stuff) can make us appear taller through correcting some simple spine problems, but that not everyone has these problems and you won't get that much "taller" even if you do.
posted by Frowner at 7:20 AM on December 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I "grew" just under an inch in my late twenties after spending a year or two doing a lot of hatha yoga. I agree with Frowner: I don't think there's a guarantee that yoga can make you taller, but if you've got some spine compression/posture issues then it might help your body/spine lengthen and release.

There's no way you'll get a "few inches", though.
posted by Specklet at 8:23 AM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Most people get shorter starting around 40. If you can avoid that, you are ahead of the game. Doing yoga is a good bet.

I'd imagine the amount you could add to your current height would depend on how good your posture is at the moment. As others have said, over an inch would be extremely unlikely, though.
posted by mdn at 8:27 AM on December 7, 2013

As a very tall girl, for years I would compress/slouch myself when they measured me at the doctor's office, because apparently to my young self being an "officially" slouchy 5.11.5 was so much better than a good-postured 6.0.25. So the answer is better posture.
posted by cecic at 8:42 AM on December 7, 2013

I have my own personal experience with this! I have been 5' 6.5" all of my life, and recently I took part in a 12 week yoga challenge where I did hot and power yoga daily for 60-90 minutes. After the challenge was over I measured 5' 7.25" both measurements were taken at the doctors. It's probably due to posture changes, but I was delighted, since I always lied myself taller and now I don't have to anymore!
posted by katypickle at 8:59 AM on December 7, 2013

I did pilates, not yoga (but I think the core principles are much the same) for a few months 3-4 times a week. When I started, I was a solid 5' 3.5" (though I would round up when asked) and after the end of the that period, I was earnestly a little over 5' 4". I have not done pilates or yoga in a handful of years and the measuring tape definitely says 5' 3.5" again.

I think it was a lot to do with how much stretching there was; there was a lot of back, core, and leg exercises that I remember doing. Also, I am not sure if results would have been the same if had not previously spent of most of my time inert.
posted by sevenofspades at 10:26 AM on December 7, 2013

I have been doing hot yoga now for about 3 years and I can say without a doubt I am 2 inches taller. This happened at 29 much to the surprise of myself, friends and family, who all noticed the difference. But the increase in height is not from your legs or arms from growing. It is more spine straightening and elongating. I haven't done hot yoga in a few months and still have the increase in height, so I am pretty sure its permanent.
posted by Takeyourtime at 11:33 AM on December 7, 2013

There are a couple of ways that Yoga might help you stand a bit taller.

You might get a little bit of actual height by stretching your spine a bit and reducing the compression on your discs, similar to how we're a bit taller in the morning after lying horizontal all night than we are at the end of the day after our spines have been supporting our weight for hours. Probably not much, maybe half an inch at best.

You may also gain some apparent height by improving your posture and strengthening the postural muscles of your back. Depending on how bad your posture is to begin with, this increase could be anywhere from nothing to several inches.

Neither of these effects are specific to Yoga, though. Just doing some basic spinal stretches, doing some general exercise to improve your core strength, and concentrating on your posture will give you the same benefits. Yoga is a perfectly good way to get those benefits though.

I wouldn't expect anything dramatic, however. Like others have said, you're not going to actually grow.
posted by Scientist at 12:06 PM on December 7, 2013

I imagine that what is meant (and I have heard it before as well) is that the space between the vertebra expands through yoga practice. In other words, I suspect all the "height increase" comes from the spine specifically. Me, I don't want a longer torso, I want longer legs. I can say yoga does make you feel taller. I've never measured myself. In any case, getting taller seems a trivial reason to do yoga, when there are all the other insanely amazing reasons to do so.
posted by Blitz at 12:06 PM on December 7, 2013

Response by poster: In some cultures you have to be 180 cm to be good "marriage material". Yoga is great, .. getting permission from parents to marry their daughter can trump yoga.
posted by crawltopslow at 2:32 PM on December 7, 2013

If you have sufficiently bad posture, you might not get "taller" but you can certainly have the top of your head be a few inches higher when standing in an ordinary way than it would otherwise be.

Usually, if someone is having their height measured they stand more straight than usual. You'll look taller to others if you stand up straight more of the time, and yoga can help you with that.

Alexander technique is going to be more productive, you can work towards specific goals, so you could hire someone to work with you specifically on maximizing how tall you appear (which is different that how tall you actually are). This might or might not work for you depending on how this 180 cm is measured.

It's also possible to have your height increased through extremely painful months long surgical procedures. You'd probably want to try some other method first, such as finding someone who won't require you to be 180 cm to marry you, first.
posted by yohko at 5:07 PM on December 8, 2013

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