As I walk down the street I notice people’s posture. I notice if they are walking along head first with their mind driving them along, their body barely able to keep up and without a say at all. I notice the people whose hearts are shut off, protected by severely rounded shoulders, the hunch on their back more pronounced the older they are.
Sometimes not. Sometimes the protagonist is a thin young man who maybe grew too quickly and tried not to stand out by rounding his shoulders to bend in with his peers. It is not my place to rock over to the person and place my hands firmly on their shoulders asking them to relax and release the tension in their shoulders and to then lift their shoulders up and back and down. Who am I to coach a stranger? I am not trained in somatic therapy. I am a yoga teacher but I still have so much to learn.
Turned out toes
I notice how my friends walk and how their legs might rotate outwards in their hip joint so that they walk with their toes pointing out. I used to do this as I have high external rotation in my hips and all of the ballet training had turned my toes out. I could turn them straight again on purpose for contemporary dance, but my natural gait had me walking with my toes pointing out. It was only when I started practising yoga and strengthened and lengthened my muscles and gained increased the flexibility in all of my muscles that I was able to walk with optimal alignment of my feet.
I notice successful people have lovely straight spines. I am yet to meet an excellent communicator who stands with a slouch. A straight, aligned spine and strong well-aligned limbs means all the bodies organs are well supported. When our joints are stacked the force of gravity is holding us firmly to earth comfortably. Our heads are very heavy and if the shoulders are slouched and the head is hanging forward it means the neck has to work harder to hold the head up.
One of my teachers who is a somatic therapist, Fran Archer shared at a recent workshop that one of her teachers had responded to the question: “what is the right position for my neck?” – “the next one”. In other words we should be in constant flow and motion because this means we don’t stay in one position for too long. Any position held for too long is not good for us. Even if we are sitting with a straight spine, anything that is too repetitive without contrasting, counterbalancing movement is not healthy.
Everybody is talking about standing desks. But I think the best idea would be to sit sometimes, stand sometimes and go for walking meetings. Bring movement into your everyday tasks. Just standing all day isn’t any better than sitting all day. Anyone who has worked in a job where they are standing all day is no good for them. Just ask a hairdresser. I know two hairdressers who have had problems with varicose veins for standing for long periods doing repetitive movements focusing on their work.
Posture tells me so much about a person.
Have you examined the alignment of your joints? How is your lumbar curve? Do you walk with your arches of your feet nicely pulled up instead of rolling in. Nothing in our body is set in stone. Our ligaments and tendons and muscles and fascia can all be strengthened and stretched and straightened out. You are never too old and it is never too late. Isn’t this the best news?
This the first in a series of blog posts that I am posting every Friday about my curiosity around yoga, movement, the body and our purpose and how these can align.