Monthly Archives: January 2014

2B What is Posture? (Part 2)

Let’s expand on those three statements I left you with.

• Posture is not a right position

Consider that you are actually always moving. If you are breathing, you are moving. As you sit here reading this blog post your torso is moving, expanding and contracting in response to your every breath. You are never completely still.

If you are always moving (even just a little bit) your body needs to be free to adjust. Positions tend to be static and held. If you are always moving, what is a good position in one moment will not be suitable in the next.

Instead of thinking of your posture as a right position, I invite you to think in terms of relationships in your body that allow for more freedom and ease. For example, I always encourage my students to think about an easy and non-compressed relationship between the head and spine as opposed to a right head position (more about that in the next blog post)

• Posture is an integral part of everything you do

I sit, I stand. That is my posture. Not. Posture is not something that you do some of the time. When you roll on the floor with your kids, there is a postural aspect to it. When you are doing the dishes or running down the street, there is a postural aspect to it. When you are working at the computer, walking your dog, driving the car, or waiting in line, there is a postural aspect to it.

• Posture is not just physical

In the two pictures below the postures tell a whole lot about the emotional state of these two men.  Your posture is often an outward expression of how you feel inside.

man sitting with head in his hands

Can you possibly feel jubilant when adopting this posture?

man winning a running race

Difficult to feel depressed if you adopt this posture

I encourage you to approach your posture not as a right position or shape you must pull yourself into and hold onto but a collection of balanced relationships. Relationships that are free to change as you move throughout your day. Recognize that emotions reflect themselves in your posture.

Posture is really about your whole self-mind, body and emotions all wrapped up into one.

Welcome to an interesting and fun journey as we explore your posture together!

In the next few posts we will start to explore the most crucial of all relationships as far as posture is concerned—the head-spine relationship. So, before you read the next post, take some time to think about the following questions:

  • What is my head? Specifically, where is the front of it and the back, the top and the bottom.
  • Where does my head sit on top of my spine?
  • When I move my head to look up and down, where does that movement initiate?

2A What is Posture? (Part 1)

So what is posture?

If I have a student who comes to me for help with improving her posture I start by finding out what she means by posture. Because how she chooses to think about, define and conceptualize posture is going to impact how she is going to try to improve it. And the stumbling block to improving her posture can very well start with how she is thinking about posture.

Historically Alexander teachers have refused to use the word posture or to say that what they did had anything to do with posture. This is mainly because society’s common conception of posture creates its own problems. In place of the term posture, Alexander teachers often would and still frequently use the terms poise, Use, ease of movement, balance, and coordination.

man standing at attention in military posture

Good posture is not about standing up straight

The all too common suggestions we are given for improving our posture shed some light on how most of society defines posture:

  • Sit or stand up straight!
  • Pull your shoulders back and down!
  • Hold your tummy in!
  • Tuck your tail!
  • Flatten your back!

What do all of these suggest? First, a right position or shape we need to adopt. Second, a degree of effort we need to exert to make that position or shape happen and keep it all from falling apart! Exhausting!

Perhaps even more importantly, the above also suggests that posture is simpler than it really is.

If it were simple, then lifting your chin and pulling your shoulders back and down would be a quick fix. Done!

It is important to realize that posture is not as simple as standing up straight. In fact I might go as far to suggest that it is not about standing up straight at all.

As an Alexander teacher, I have no problem using the word posture. It is a word that we all know and relate to in some way or another. However, I conceptualize posture differently.

Take some time to think about the following three statements . In the second half of this post, which I will publish tomorrow, I will talk more in depth about them:

• Posture is not a right position
• Posture is an integral part of everything you do
• Posture is not just physical

Picture credit: Body Learning by Michael Gelb

1 Welcome and Blog Intro

Welcome. My name is Lauren Hill and I am an AmSAT Certified Alexander Technique teacher based in St. Paul, Minnesota USA. The Alexander Technique approaches posture in a different way than most of us are used to. That is what this blog is all about.

When you have good posture your clothes fit better, it can make you appear thinner, look more attractive and feel more confident. But it is so much more than that. Your posture has a profound effect on your health and well being. Unfortunately, when we look for help with issues from back pain and breathing to digestion and headaches we often overlook the effect of our posture.

Your posture is too important to ignore. However, you need to realize that improving your posture is not just a simple matter of needing to learn to stand or sit up straight. In fact, many of us have tried that approach and it just hasn’t worked.

It is well worth your while to start paying some attention to your posture–but in a way that is fun, manageable and sparks an interest in yourself. That is the goal of this blog.

Before the next post, take some time to think about and write down your own current definition of posture. Go ahead, take a few minutes and write it down.

What is posture? And while you are at it, What is good posture?

My goal at the onset of this blog is to post every other week. This will give you adequate time to digest and experiment with the information I present you.