“Sit up straight”, “Don’t slouch”, “Pull your shoulders back!” Many of us have heard those orders either from parents or teachers throughout our childhood. Good posture seems to be associated with a lot of work and effort!
It is commonly understood that you may achieve better posture by exercising and toning up weak postural muscles. But why do we find ourselves going between sitting up straight and slouching & collapsing again and again? Why is it so difficult to keep it up?
Sometimes, we see somebody with good posture that attracts our attention. These people don’t have a rigid uprightness, but seem to move fluidly and balanced. Good posture is just part of their body language. How do they achieve that? Are they just lucky? It looks so easy…
Not only does good posture look better, it keeps us healthy, too. Poor posture, however, puts harmful pressure on our spine and our joints leading to back problems, sore joints and malcoordination. It also squashes our internal organs which may result in body’s malfunctions such as digestive troubles or breathing problems. It even diminishes our self-confidence! Good reasons to improve our posture, but HOW?
Here’s the secret of good posture:
1. Good posture does not involve effort and holding yourself upright with a lot of muscle tension.
2. Our posture is part of our habitual body use. Habitual movement patterns determine the qualitiy of our movements and posture.
3. We can change our body use by learning how our body and mind interact allowing a better coordination of the whole person.
Teachers of the Alexander Technique don’t talk about posture; we talk about “Use”. This concept recognizes a close interaction between mind and body. Our mental attitude and our thoughts determine the way we carry ourselves through life. Good use shows itself when we can do our daily activities in an effortless, balanced manner. Poor use requires us to exert excessive effort which puts our body out of balance. We may habitually shorten and tense our neck, hunch our shoulders or lock our knees. Posture is just part of how we use our bodies. Therefore, our unconscious movement habits need to be addressed to improve our posture.
The Alexander Technique is a method of retraining dysfunctional movement patterns that interfere with good use and optimal balance. It is communicated by the teacher’s gentle directive touch and verbal guidance. Through an active process of kinesthetic awareness in simple activities such as standing, sitting or walking, the Alexander Technique teaches you to change harmful movement habits leading to more freedom of movement and a better posture!