Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Straighten Up For Spring! Exercise #1.

The time is coming to pack away the bulky sweaters and jackets of winter. If you've been working on those strong sexy arms and backs for the tank tops and sundresses of Spring and Summer...well great! But don't let all your hard work get overshadowed by poor posture. Haven't been working on that upper body? Paying attention to your posture is even more important. A great starter exercise is coming up.

People can usually tell who the dancer is in a crowd. It's usually not because they have just pirouetted into the room. Most likely it was their posture that gave them away. Now, not all dancers adhere to proper body alignment when in a pedestrian mode, but good posture is something that most of us, dancer or not, can implement in our daily lives.

In what I hope will be a series of posts, I will offer suggestions and exercises to help build awareness and strength for proper posture. And not the kind that looks like one has a broomstick duct taped to their back. Good, properly maintained posture can help you look thinner and younger. Self-assured and healthy.

Exercise #1;

Laying down on your back on the floor (the most reliable hard surface usually) with knees bent, place your feet about hip width apart.

Feel your neck relax and feel lengthening through the back of the neck without jamming the chin into the chest.

Next, gently press the backs of the shoulder blades against the floor. You want to feel as much of the blades against the floor, without squeezing them together. Rather, feel the space between the shoulder blades expand, being careful to not allow the front of the shoulders to hunch in towards the chest.

As you maintain this neck and shoulder alignment, create space between the shoulders and the ears. I have heard it described once as if you are sliding your shoulder blades into your back pockets.

Keep the majority of focus, for now, on the neck and shoulder area. Gently pulling the bellybutton towards the spine will help stabilize the rest of the body. Allow your hips and legs to stay relaxed, as if melting into the ground.

Once you have dialed all of these cues in, maintain this alignment for 4-6 focused and deep breaths. Release by bringing your thighs to your chest and hugging your legs. You can add gentle rocking side to side for a gentle massage. Or take a break by simply letting your entire body to rest and reflect for a moment. Then redial all of the above cues back into your body and begin again.

Repeat this exercise 3-5 times, or as desired, a few times a week or even daily.

An exercise like the one above can help train awareness of one's posture, and awareness is the first step.

Enjoy the dance that is life!

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