Perfect Posture. Is it possible?
To answer that you have to ask, what exactly is posture?
Merriam Webster defines it as, “the way in which your body is positioned when you are sitting or standing.”
Your posture is a response to geometry, habit, environment and what it is you are doing!
There is no one correct posture.
What we can do is examine and be aware of how we stand, sit and move most of the time.
It’s also good to understand a little about the biomechanics of your body – for example, your spine has evolved over millions of years to have some natural curves that hold us upright (we are the only mammal who can do this for extended periods of time!)
But it is especially important to be aware of cultural habits that we see as ‘normal’ and that we might want to question. It is these habits – and the postures they create – that are leading to the breakdown of our skeletons and a lot of back, hip, knee and neck pain.
When I say our cultural habits, I mean sitting still for long periods in chairs or couches and walking mostly on level surfaces and in positive heels. I mean seeing walking as a low intensity recreational ‘exercise’. I mean the assumption that to go anywhere you must drive. I mean the idea that to be fit you must go to the gym or carve out an hour a day to exercise and the rest of the time you are sedentary.
Your body is a matrix of what you ask it to do.
What else effects your posture? Mood, sleep and general strength and endurance of course.
Also, social norms like a demure posture for girls or a swagger for boys. Sports, dance or being in the military will influence how we position ourselves.
Here are five tips for better body functioning beyond any one posture.
Change positions regularly. Some people want to know ‘what is the best posture for sitting?’ It is one that you change frequently. If I am at the computer I make myself do some work on the floor, on a stool, change to the couch with feet up, stand for a while. Which leads me to my next suggestion.
Make yourself ‘uncomfortable’ as often as possible. Is it more comfortable to use a shopping cart to lean on as you grocery shop? Is it more comfortable to ride instead of walk? Maybe. But it is the way we are making ourselves so comfortable that is causing so much discomfort.
Ever see the movie WALL-E ? The passengers on the ship in that movie are disabled by their comfort.
Consider yourself a mover. A change of thinking may be the most important change to make. Think of yourself as the person who walks after dinner. Think of family as ‘the hiking family’. See yourself doing some of your errands in your neighborhood on foot.
Fidget if you have to be still. Be still if you can’t stop fidgeting. I always noticed that as people get more advanced in their yoga practice they have the stamina to really move during asana and also the ability to be really still during savasana (relaxation pose).
Walk. Walk up hills. Walk on uneven surfaces (not sidewalks) Walk longer distances Walk fast. Walk slowly. Walk somewhere you have never been before.
In this 8 minute video I take you through some common postural misalignments you can correct while you are in a standing position. You will want to use the wall and a mirror to check yourself as I have noticed most folks are not really aware of how they are standing. Over time, you will get a better sense of where your body is in space and you will be able to feel what your habits are. Being aware is key.
what are your postural habits you would like to change?