Do You Struggle With Good Posture?
One of my constant battles in life is with posture. I have managed to lose weight, find out what works for my skin, improve my health but I always struggle with holding myself upright. Perhaps it is genetic - my grandfather has a hunch in his 90s. This is the only excuse I can make because even if I try with all my might, I can’t seem to find a posture that is effortless.
Standing straight and tall comes naturally for most people. But I need to practice mindfulness to ensure that I don’t let myself fall into one big curve. It also doesn’t help that I have mild scoliosis, which means that my left shoulder is higher than my right - blame on the years that I carried a heavy sling bag. So now, what I can I do? I can’t possibly lead the rest of my life in poor posture. Heaven knows what will happen to my spine when I get old. And the worst part is that now I’m a yoga teacher so I better straighten up. I’m writing this post down as an affirmation to myself, that this year I will change, remembering everything that I've learnt about good posture.
I took an ashtanga yoga workshop with David Kiel in December last year. He is a yoga master and anatomy expert, and has also written a book called The Functional Anatomy of Yoga, which was part of our syllabus in the yoga teacher training course. During the workshop he compared the pelvis to a bowl of water. If we tilt the bowl too much in front or arch it backwards the water will spill. The correct alignment was to neither arch it too much or push it forward. The idea is to keep it centred as this is the axis of our body. So that’s step number one.
My friend Ami told me about her grandmother who was very slim all her life. All she did was carry herself straight. While standing and sitting she would just compress her abdomen a little bit so that she would be lifted. She used to say that little constant compression of the abdomen was the reason behind her flat stomach. That’s step number two. I can apply this to the lower part of my spine to stay lifted.
A couple of years back I took an Iyengar workshop. The teachers Roshen and Zarina spoke extensively about the dorsal spine. Its basically the upper part of the spine between the shoulder blades. This dorsal spine should always push in towards the back so that out chest is open. Dr Iyengar used to say that we hold all our nectar in the centre of our chest. If our chest is open the nectar thrives, if we are hunched over, it dries up. This nectar is directly related to our youthfulness. So that’s step number three - activating the upper chest by pushing the dorsal spine into the upper back, thereby opening the chest.
However we must not look at the spine, or for that matter, the human body in separate parts. Everything has to stack up together in one straight line. I was reading up on the Alexander Technique, which is all about stacking up the joints one on top of the other. In this technique, even when you’re sitting, your knee and ankles should be in one line. One should create awareness that the pelvis, abdomen and chest should stack up one on top of the other. Oh yes and when you sit just shift your hips a little bit backwards so you sit straighter.
Posture for me is the most important aspect of physical beauty. You may have great skin, height, a slim waist but if you don't know how to hold it together then it all falls flat. How you carry yourself can either enhance what you have or demolish it. So from today I will try all the techniques mentioned above to really make this change. I do believe one can change at any age, if they really want to.
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