I have always enjoyed people watching, even as a young child. As an Alexander teacher I am trained in the art of observation of self (and others). So, it’s hard not to observe people. Occupational hazard, I guess.
Some students ask me when I am out in public, if I am constantly judging people’s posture and Use. I’d say I am more of a curious observer than a critic. I wonder a lot at what people do with themselves and why. People and their Use are an endless source of fascination for me.
One thing that I have observed a lot recently is how most people don’t stand on their own two feet. Instead they lean.
They lean on anything they can. Walls, partitions, countertops, luggage, tables and chairs. And if there is nothing to lean on, they lean on themselves.
I have my own hypotheses about why this is so. One is that as adults when we sit, which most of us do most of the time, we don’t practice sitting upright and balanced, supporting our own torsos. When we sit down, we lean back against the back of the chair, or lean to the right or to the left supporting ourselves on an armrest.
Because we spend so many hours sitting and leaning we take the same leaning behavior into standing as well.
We get good at what we practice.
I go to a local Chipotle restaurant about once a month. I have been to a many Chipotle restaurants over last few years. Like most chains, the interior of the restaurants are quite similar. And in this chain they tend to have a low wall, about 3 ½ feet in height that people snake around as they wait in line.
What I enjoy a lot about going to Chipotle (besides the food) is watching how people wait in line. I’d say most of the time about 75% of the people are leaning against that low wall in some way or another. And the variations of leaning seem endless. And some are quite creative! The remaining 25% that are not leaning on the wall are leaning into one hip or the other, or are standing with their knees locked, pelvis thrust forward and literally are leaning back and down onto their lower backs.
Observing others is often helpful when learning to observe yourself. Watch how other people stand. What percentage are leaning on objects or on themselves? How do they lean? Do you observe any of these habits in yourself?
Picture Credits: Image of Leaning Tower of Pisa courtesy of TeddyBear[Picnic] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net; Fig A: Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net; Fig B: Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net; Fig C: Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net