Hello beautiful friends,
I repeatedly tell my students of the "Yoga & Posture Workshop" that making small adjustments regularly to the way they sit, stand, walk and move is the best practice they can do to create the greatest transformation towards natural, balanced posture.
You may attend regular yoga classes, go to the gym and even do the "Yoga & Posture Sequence" several times a week if you're a Workshop graduate, but if you're unaware of how your body is aligned during the day, you're likely to have some imbalanced, habitual movement patterns. And sadly, bad habits don't just stay the same. They get worse the more we do them, becoming more ingrained and more difficult to change. Left unchecked our unconscious, imbalanced daily patterns of movement add up over time to create stress, strain and pain in our bodies. Sixteen hours a day of imbalance wins out over one hour a day of aware body movement.
So with that in mind I thought it's time I gave you some simple daily postural tips to start the real journey back to natural, balanced alignment and the freedom of movement you enjoyed as a child.
There is however one unfortunate aspect to this conversation. There's one thing I can't help you with, one thing I can't tell you or show you. This thing is entirely up to you and that's the 'remembering'.
You have to remember to practice!
A regular practice of meditation is the most profound practice I can think of that helps us to be more naturally self aware and body aware, other than post-it notes all over the house. So if meditation isn't in your repertoire, I'm afraid it's the post-it notes for you.
3 Posture Tips for you today: 1. HEAD: Many people carry their head forward of the centre of their chest and forward of their centre of gravity. This places a huge load on the muscles of the back of the neck and increases compression in the spine. So if you know you're a " head-poker" or if you sit at a computer for extended periods: imagine you're holding a soft ball under your chin at all times. I like to imagine a soft foam lemon under my chin.
2. NECK & UPPER BACK: If you experience neck and upper shoulder pain: imagine a loved ones hand on your back between your shoulder blades. Use the sense of this touch to check in with the posture of your chest. Are you slumping and rounding your chest? Are your shoulders forward. Then gently straighten up and lower your shoulder blades down your back.
This is a lovely visualisation because of course, this area relates to our heart and serves to soothe and open our heart as well as balance our shoulder girdles on our chest. It also encourages a slower and deeper breath. All of these adjustments help to ease tension in our neck, upper back and shoulders.
3. LOWER BACK: (i) If you have lower back pain or stiffness: gently rock your pelvis forwards and backwards, breathing smoothly. This can be done either sitting on the edge of a firm, flat chair (both feet on the floor) or in standing whilst bent over with your hands on your lower thighs. Notice the freedom or otherwise you have. Practice 20 repetitions, at least 5 times a day to slowly increase your coordination, range and fluidity of movement.
This practice is a precursor to bringing greater balance to our Centre and lower back. It brings us more in touch with our core muscles front and back and steadily encourages greater mobility.
We learn and embody new postures firstly through increasing our awareness and
secondly our movement.
Balance may be more easily created once we have freedom of movement either side of the centre. Think of a set of scales. It has two sides and a central column. We need movement either side of the centre for the scales to rest easily balanced and centred.
(ii) Once greater mobility is established at your lumbar-pelvic junction then it's time to balance your pelvis. Imagine the pelvic bowl full of water. As you sit or stand don't allow the water to spill out either forwards, backwards or sidewards. In other words don't tip your pelvis forward, backwards or stand on one leg with the pelvis tilted.
The photo above is so common. Notice how the woman stands with one hip out to the side. Her right shoulder is depressed and her right side waist is noticeably flexed and shortened.
Notice yourself. You probably do this unconsciously at times or even regularly and every body worker will attest to the deep-rooted imbalances that this creates. So make it a habit to stand evenly on both feet with your knees slightly bent (not locked) and your feet hip width apart. The right base of support and distance for your feet, is about the length of one of your feet. It will feel strange even oddly aggressive to begin with, but with practice you'll feel right at home.
Think lemons, a hand and a bowl of water! More tips to come soon.
And if you'd need help with your posture or you're motivated to maintain your freedom of movement and continue to do the things you love for as long as you can, then book a Physiotherapy session today and learn the essential exercises to get you back in alignment and balance for life.
JOY in freedom,