Your posture is a reflection of how you are and who you are. We stand tall when we feel confident, self-assured, slump when we feel low, crane our neck forward to connect with others or when we teach, round our shoulders when we feel low or vulnerable.
Good posture ensures the forces in movement are directed through the joints in a neutral position which means there is minimal wear and tear. Poor posture and the resulting muscle imbalances cause joint and spinal disc problems and associated muscle spasm as muscles contract in an attempt to protect the overloaded joint. A healthy posture means the chest, heart and pelvis are open giving the organs space to function optimally, blood and lymph flow easily and the spine assumes an ideal S-shape. The subtle energy flows easily through the nadii and chakra system of the body. We feel vital and alive. When the spine is in correct alignment, the vertebrae and discs are nourished by the natural flow of spinal fluid keeping them supple and youthful.
Regular practice of yoga naturally develops greater body awareness and our posture improves as we develop greater flexibility, core strength and confidence in ourselves. We learn to breathe as the body was designed to and take responsibility for our own health and well-being. Yoga reverses the poor postural changes we see in people under long term stress and opens especially the chest and the pelvis so that we can move with greater freedom and grace.
Ideal posture (see figure 1) is when an imaginary plumb line runs down the side of the body from the ear lobe through the tip of the shoulder, centre of the thorax, the lumbar vertebrae, the centre of the femur (thigh) bone and knee joint to the lateral malleolus (round bone) of the ankle.
The head is neutral, tilted neither forward or back, shoulder blades lie flat against the ribs, spine retains its natural S-shape curve, pelvis is in neutral and knee joints are in line with the ankle not held locked in hyper extension or forward in flexion, the lower leg is vertical and at a right angle to the sole of the foot.
An S-shape spine has just the right amount of lordosis curve of the neck, kyphosis curve of the mid back/thoracic region, lordosis curve of the lower back and kyphosis curve of the tail bone.
To come into your ideal posture try the following Ideal Alignment exercise.
Good Alignment Stretch: Stand on your toes, focus on a point that isn't moving, stretch your arms overhead as high as you can, pulling your ribs out of your hips. Hold this momentarily as this strengthens your ankles and improves your balance. Now gently lower your heels to the floor, bringing your arms and shoulders down without losing the length through the mid-section of the body. Unlock your knees if you have locked them and gently pull your chin back so your head is directly over your spine if your head has come forward. Stand in this position for a moment or two breathing deeply into your belly and feel the change in how you are. Do you feel energised?? Is your breathing deeper and calm?? Do you feel more confident, more yourself...like you could take on the world....
This exercise is ideal practised every morning when you first get out of bed....so you start the day with an open heart and mind, energy flowing, feeling confident and your body beautifully aligned. With regular practice this will become the way you stand always.
For more detailed information about specific postural deviations and poor posture habits many people experience and the yoga that can help correct these click on the link
If you have any questions about posture or would like me to explain any of the yoga postures please contact me or you can come to see me for a one to one session where we address your specific postural concerns. This could be by skype or in person if you live near Chester UK.
If you would like to know more about caring for your spine and yoga to help