Hello beautiful friends,
Well I thought I had it down! I thought I’d really covered Posture! I mean, I started years ago and have quite successfully (going by all the comments I receive) transformed my posture to well, pretty good. However it seems that Posture is just another piece of that proverbial string that goes on and on.
So I’m really excited today to share with you two stories of how in the last 6 months I’ve successfully eased pain in two areas of my body by making simple changes to my posture.
I’ve just got to say again how fascinated I am by this development considering how much body awareness is such a part of who I am. For almost 20 years I’ve practiced being aware of myself as I sit and stand, whenever I’m talking to someone and as I move. So I thought that I was doing pretty well and was fairly balanced and relaxed in my body posture most of the time.
But then late last year I began to experience neck stiffness and pain on waking in the morning. It was difficult to turn fully from side to side and it was worse again in the evening after a full days work. Initially I thought it might be because in the previous few months I was working a bit harder and using my elbows more. Or was it that I needed to do more upper body strengthening? Or that after all my years of work as a Physio my neck was getting a bit worn out? (gasp!).
Meanwhile I got the hot packs on, did lots of self massage and long stretches, enJOYed more frequent massage swaps with my masseuse friends (I’m so lucky) and jumped on my yoga mat more.
Then one day as I was working on a client, I had a light bulb moment. I caught myself. As I worked over her back I suddenly realized that I was sticking my neck out as I focused on what I was feeling and the particular technique I was doing. Ding dong. I knew instantly that this could be the cause of my pain. It’s certainly not going to help.
And so from that moment forth, during my work with clients, whenever I was mobilising the spine, massaging or really any time I had my hands on my clients, I practiced being aware of what position I was holding my head in. And I found my chin just that little bit forward of where it needed to be or what I consider optimum alignment. It was literally only two centimetres.
So every moment that I caught myself, I “pulled my head in”, something I’ve been telling my clients for years.
“Chin tuck, bring the base of the skull backwards, carry the head in alignment over the spine, chest and pelvis….”
So I’ve made these regular adjustments in my head position and….
3 months later – no pain.
6 months later – my 'new' posture has become unconscious (I don't need to think about it anymore and it happens).
But there’s more ...
Posture success story number two:-
I’ve been aware for a long time that my right hip is tighter than my left hip. When I sit cross-legged in meditation my right hip doesn’t open up as much as my left. It still sticks up after all these years! Do you know that one? Everyone else is sitting around – their knees flat out sideways and yours are vertically inclined!
Two words – I wish.
Well this one rogue knee had begun to really bug me in the last year in my meditation practice so I finally took a moment to ponder the situation and to side-track for a moment, here’s a little gem of wisdom for you.
When you have an issue of any sort, the best thing you can do is to ask questions, lots of them. It makes sense really. An issue is only an issue when you don’t understand it or have any idea what to do about it. So by asking questions you place yourself in an open, enquiring and receptive state of mind and body where new insights and new ideas can enter.
And once you get the question right you’ll have the answer really soon. The answer is always in the question as you’ll see when you read on. So I began to ask questions. Why is my right hip not adapting to this position like the left one has? Why is it stiff in external rotation? I haven’t injured my hip in the past. What have I missed here? Could I be doing something with this hip that keeps it stuck in this pattern of tightness?
Some time soon after, I saw it... I’m in the kitchen, preparing food and… I caught myself. More whistles and bells! As I stood cutting up vegetables I found myself shifting my weight to my right leg, bending my left knee just a little and dropping my pelvis down on the left side making my right hip turn into internal rotation.
Wow, I thought! I’ve missed that one!
Clearly my love of food had distracted me from catching this imbalanced postural habit. I’d overlooked the ‘how’ of my being in the kitchen as I do spend a lot of time in the kitchen. So then, I connected the dots:-
THIS SIMPLE MOVEMENT REPEATED OVER AND OVER, OVER TIME, HAS PLACED MY RIGHT HIP IN A POSITION OF GREATER INTERNAL ROTATION (IT’S RESTING STATE OR POSTURE) RENDERING IT LESS FLEXIBLE IN EXTERNAL ROTATION.
So from that moment on, whenever I was preparing some delectable creation in the kitchen, I switched on the spotlight of awareness reminding myself to stand on both feet evenly and YES it’s made a huge difference. My knee is falling out into external rotation effortlessly now when sitting cross-legged with just a little discomfort arising in a longer session of meditation.
So Posture is powerful AND it’s not just about relieving pain. If you’re out of balance structurally it can dent your JOY bubble in more ways than you think.
Good postural alignment is about your body working naturally, it’s about the prevention of unnecessary wear and tear, it’s about easing tension and feeling more relaxed, it’s about your body working better and lasting longer, it’s about FEELING alive and energized, it’s about being centred and confident, it’s about your inner connection with all the love, joy and wisdom you possess that you've gleaned from your unique and rich experience of life and the open and free expression of all of yourself.
Balanced posture equates to freedom of movement, increased energy, enhanced personal power and a greater access to the reservoirs of love and joy you already have within you.
So I’ll ask you again. What could you be doing to perpetuate the stiffness, pain or discomfort in your body?
It took me about 3-6 months to successfully re-train myself this time. How long will it take you? It’s that proverbial piece of string. What I love is that it comes back to the essence of ‘The JOYQ Way’, the first step of which, is to practice self-awareness.
Nothing’s going to change unless you practice being aware of yourself and making regular adjustments to your posture but the good news is, that this is all it takes….. just regular little tweaks and tucks here and there. I call them “micro- movements” and with enough repetition, over time, you’ll get it. Your body will take on your newly trained posture as a habit and YOU CAN FORGET ABOUT IT.
Changing your posture means being aware of yourself whilst you’re doing other things.
See you next time on the blog,
JOY with my head pulled in and both feet firmly, evenly, on the ground.