Chances are that when you think about your ‘posture’, you think about your back, and perhaps your shoulders and head. Most likely you think your spine should be straight and maybe that your shoulders should be held back and not hunched, or that your head shouldn’t jut forward so much. You may feel that there’s a right place for these things and a wrong place, and that if only you can find the right place and hold them there you will have ‘good posture’.
In my last post I suggested that the idea of holding yourself in a fixed position to attain ‘good posture’ is flawed and even damaging, and gives you the opposite of the relaxed, effortlessly aligned poise that is your birthright. Instead we need to let go of all this muscular tension and holding so that our postural system is free to activate and we can be held easily and dynamically upright by the muscles and reflexes that are actually designed to do the job.
It begins here, now!
As well as letting go of unnecessary muscular tension, several other things contribute to the activation of the postural system, and it all begins a long way from thinking about our back and shoulders. Firstly, and perhaps surprisingly, relaxed posture has a great deal to do with the quality of our awareness. Science tells us that the postural system doesn’t work in isolation, but is neurologically linked to our attention and balance systems to effortlessly support our structure in relation to gravity and the world around us.
Think of a cat hunting a mouse — it’s completely present, alive, poised and organised for pouncing. How many cats have you seen with bad posture? Or think of the same cat coming up to nuzzle its owner’s hand. Once again, it’s completely present to what it wants, and its system responds by being vibrantly activated to support its reaching, nuzzling nose. How often do we see a person that vibrant, that poised, that beautifully aligned? Hardly ever, not least because it’s rare for a contemporary human being to be fully in the flow of what they are doing so that their postural system activates properly.
Most of us humans spend much of our time not being quite present to ourselves or our surroundings. We withdraw from being truly here in the world and live in our heads and the past and future. But if we are not present, if we are not truly ‘here’ in the moment, the postural system won’t get the signals it needs to activate to support us as it should. So relaxed, effortless upright posture doesn’t begin with worrying about our back and shoulders — it begins with being gently present, and in conscious contact with the world around us....
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