Correct posture and proper alignment are extremely important for our well-being, our health and the energy flow throughout our body.
Good posture means you stand or sit in a way that supports the natural curves of a healthy spine. Alignment means making postural changes to improve the function of our body as a whole.
There are very specific ways our body parts relate to each other in order for our bodies to function well.
Learning these relationships allows us to assess and measure how our bodies have adapted to modern life. And then we can make changes so our parts align better, work better and feel better.
But let’s talk about good posture first.
Modern life conspires against good posture.
We spend our days sitting at desks, staring at computers, looking at our phones, reading books, driving cars, eating … We chill and rest in overstuffed chairs, designed more for looks than for lumbar support. And we use machines or pay people to move instead of us, so we can sit more and move less. A sedentary lifestyle has a huge effect on our posture and health, and let me tell you it’s far from good.
Your mother didn’t tell you to sit straight and stop slouching for nothing. She was absolutely right!
Even if you didn’t listen to her and you just rolled your eyes, yoga can help you and it’s not too late.
As you’re reading this, you’re probably sitting or perhaps standing with the phone in your hand.
What’s your posture like? Check it out!
What position is your spine in? And your neck?
The key to good posture is the position of the spine.
First, it’s important to understand the anatomy of proper posture.
Whether you’re sitting or standing, your spine has natural curves that should be maintained.
An inward or forward curve at the neck (cervical curve), an outward or backward curve at the upper back (thoracic curve), and inward curve at the lower back (lumbar curve). If any of these curves are habitually flattened or overly curved, abnormal posture can get locked into the body.
Maintaining just the right curves is only part of the equation, however, to function efficiently your skeletal structure also needs to be aligned vertically. That means when you’re standing, your ears should be over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, and your hips over your knees and ankles. When any body part falls out of that vertical line the adjacent support muscles will feel the strain.
Your body always compensates and adjusts. Posture also greatly affects the ability to breathe well.
As you’ve probably realised, good posture and proper alignment is a whole body issue. A holistic approach provided by an experienced yoga instructor is of great importance to help you with it.
Good posture enables the best flow of vital life energy.
Human body is an intricate net of pranic currents called nadis. In yoga theory, nadis carry prana, life force energy. Along the spine there are 3 major energy channels or ‘nadis’, named, ‘sushumna’, ‘ida’ and ‘pingala’. Where these three channels intersect there are 7 chakras (energy whirlpools) whose main task is to navigate the energy.
If you wish to establish the optimal flow of energy in your body and prevent blockages, it’s important for you to take care of your posture and thus your spine.
And what has correct posture got to do with self-confidence and attractiveness?
Everything! You can tell by a person’s posture how well they feel in their body.
When our backbone is flexible and balanced and we stand up straight we give the feeling of self-confidence, optimism and elegance. We show that we’re not easily bent by other people’s opinions but at the same time that we’re not too stuck up on our own beliefs. It shows that we carry what we’ve been given in life with pride.
Our posture reflects the way we feel and vice versa. By straightening your spine you affect your mood, your energy, your appeal.
Guidelines for correct posture in sitting position
For those of you who spend a lot of time sitting, here are some guidelines to help you.
In order to ensure correct posture while sitting, first set the height of your chair (providing you can, otherwise find a suitable one), so your knees are bent at the right angle (90°) and at approximately the height of your hips (or slightly lower).
Both feet must be firmly on the floor. Attention, ladies! Your feet might be elegantly crossed but that way you’re putting more pressure on your pelvis and lower back.
While sitting on your backside, your weight must be equally distributed on both sides. Don’t lean against the back of the chair, keep your torso straight, don’t lean neither backward nor forward.
Straighten up to get the feeling of ‘elongated’ spine from the tailbone to the neck. Push your shoulders back and your shoulder blades down. If you’re behind a desk, keep your arms on it while the elbows are at the right angle (90°).
You must always be aware of your posture – either sitting or standing – especially in the beginning when the muscles aren’t toughened yet or aren’t used to the correct position.
Consider also these tips:
- Reduce sitting throughout the day and move more.
- Do some work standing at a high table or counter.
- Set a timer on your computer for a stand-and-stretch break every 30 minutes.
- Park your car a bit further from your office or home to sneak in some extra steps.
- Take a short walk during your lunch break.
All the effort eventually pays off, I promise. Good posture and proper alignment are pre-conditions for health and well-being.
I have encouraging news for you: with regular yoga exercises anyone can improve their posture, regardless of their fitness, age or lifestyle.
How wonderfully our body rewards us when we invest a bit in it!
An ancient wisdom says: “You’re as young as your spine is”.
So… Keep it young. 🙂