This month I decided to write about posture. What’s “correct” posture? Well, the short answer is that there isn’t one. Appropriate posture is very unique to each individual and to what you want to do. The end.
Just kidding. There’s more to the story. First, there’s the back story (no pun intended). There are the postures we take on because of unconscious beliefs about what we ought to do. Often we’ve been told by relatives to pull our shoulders back, and we’re still hearing those voices in our heads, driving us to tense our backs. Social roles influence our posture. We unconsciously imitate others’ postures. There are postures that reflect our emotions or our relationship with our environment. Postures can result from persistent pain. They may also contribute to pain.
We may find ourselves stuck in–or returning to–uncomfortable postures without knowing how to get out of them. Or posture may interfere with our ability to move and think freely, even when we don’t notice. We tend to get stuck or interfere with ourselves when we are pulling ourselves – pulling ourselves down or up or in. When we do that, we often get stuck or tense or lax elsewhere in our body as our body works to compensate.
So really this blog is about something else: reclaiming our space.
One of the comments I frequently hear from people doing Alexander Technique work with me is, “Wow, I feel so present because I’m expanding and taking up space!” They realize the ways in which they have been pulling in on themselves as they give themselves permission to release into expansion and verticality.
If you like, take a moment right now to explore where you might be “scrunching” yourself. Experiment with releasing that outward. Don’t worry about the right places to put body parts – that’s what gets us into trouble! Let yourself expand in every direction. Up-down, out to the sides, and to the back as well as the front. Along the whole length of your spine.
When we make a practice of expanding in this way, we not only become more present, we’re likely to allow more balanced, easier posture that makes us feel more confident. It takes practice to bring this easier way of being into activity. Start with something simple, like brushing your teeth or doing the dishes. Include your whole body in the activity and experiment with being present in this way as you do it.
This past weekend I organized a tango event and invited colleague and tango teacher Andrea Uchitel to teach classes on “togetherness.” The photo above is one of the beautiful images from those workshops as the dancers let go of habitual tension tightening the body to expand into beautiful embraces.
If you’d like help freeing up your body or if you’d like to keep up a regular embodied mindfulness practice, schedule a private Alexander Technique session, join a group class or contact me to find out how Alexander Technique and mindful movement can help.
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