Sitting up straight is something we've all been told to do from time to time, but why? And is it really as important to sit right as to stop smoking?
Posture is what anatomy nerds call a 'perfect storm' scenario - something we're doing every day, all day, with no break. Under this load, our body re-shapes itself to support the new shape we're in (in a lot of cases, sitting, with a rounded upper spine and hyperextended neck.)
“Stand like a pine tree, sit like a bell, walk like a breeze and lie like a bow." Buddhist saying.
Poor posture consequences
The thing is, posture effects everything in our bodies. Poor posture can cause back or neck pain, breathing problems and trouble walking.
When we slouch forwards (like if we're looking at our phones) this rounds our shoulders, and in turn weakens the muscles at the back of the body between the shoulder blades. Over time, the body compensates and 'sticks' us like that, so it becomes increasingly harder to change.
And unfortunately, we are slouching a lot more in our daily lives.
But all is not lost!
Research shows that we CAN change our posture at any stage of life. The body is hugely adaptable and responds to our needs.
The most important things that we need to do are: create varied movement in our spine, mobilise our shoulder muscles, and find our core.
1. Spine moves
The spine loves to move in varied directions, and by nature has 6 different ways we can move through space. Keeping the spine supple and strong requires us to move out of habitual sitting patterns and regularly move the spine in varied ways!
A simple cat /cow sequence is a great way to keep the spine feeling refreshed.
Do sitting, standing or kneeling and once an hour in your sitting period.
2. Shoulder mobilisers
Our shoulders are made to be mobile. But they also require some stability to stop them dropping forwards through the weight of gravity. Checking in with how your shoulders are sitting throughout the day is an effective way to prevent lots of change here.
At a wall or lying facedown, stretch the arms to shoulder height, turn your body away from the wall or floor so you are lying on one side.
2. Cow- face slow and active.
Facing a wall or lying face down, bring your arms into cow face (pictured), hover the arms off of your back, and slowly swap the sides. Keep moving for a few rounds, keeping really active.
3. Easy strong core
The core is vital for holding us upright, and the deep core is essential for this.
There are many core exercises around, but a portable one I like is a simple mountain pose. Try hugging the ribs in, and trying to sit or stand up tall, imagining extending through the crown of the head. Hold and breathe as fully as you can
Posture is so important, the more we bring awareness to this practice we do all day every day, the more it will help us live taller and fuller.
Need more guidance on your posture? Or have a specific concern you'd like to work with? Work with me 1-1
To build your personal practice and discover tools that will serve you beyond your mat. I work with your specific and unique situation to create holistic healing.
A therapeutic assessment to discover your individual needs
You will receive my undivided attention: I am here to make you feel comfortable.
Ask questions, pause the class, or redo a pose at your own speed.
I aim to increase your confidence, prevent or work with an injury, reduce stress or build a toolkit for a more empowered life.