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Having good posture is important. Not only can good posture make you look younger, thinner and more confident, it can make you feel better. Better circulation, better breathing and better functional movement.
What better time than the approach of a new year, although anytime is a good time for better posture!
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.
We will move to the backs of our shoulders. They should be relaxed and spread as flat as possible, being sure to listen to your body for signs of pain, on the floor. Visualize lacing up the front of your rib cage, while allowing the back of the rib cage to melt into the floor.
We now journey to our hip and pelvic region. Our back is in a neutral position when the natural lumbar curve (the curve of our lower back) is present. By tilting the pelvis towards the ribs we flatten out that curve, creating an elongated spine. Then release and go back the neutral spine position. That is one set. You can do repetitions at a medium tempo, or hold the tilt portion for longer before releasing. Keep the focus on the pelvis and keep the work out of the legs.
As you work between the two pelvic tilt positions engage the core by pulling the belly button to the spine.
Quick, check in with the shoulders and ribs!
Let's run through some alignment principles;
back of the shoulders and ribcage are "melting" in to the floor.
front of the ribs are "sewn" shut.
belly button pulled to the spine (belly button to spine will be on the more intense muscle engagement for these exercises. "Standby" mode would be to simply brace the muscles of the torso as if bracing to be patted on the belly, or God forbid, punched in the stomach).
natural curve of the lumbar (small of the back) is present, but not exaggerated.
knees lined up with both the hips and feet (knees are not touching).
weight is distributed evenly through the feet.
Inhale as your arms extend towards the ceiling.
Exhale as your arms reach overhead, careful to not let the ribs pop open, or the pelvis tilt away which would increase the lumbar curve and stress the lower back.
Inhale as you reach the arms back up to the ceiling.
Exhale as you bring them down along side your body.
You can further increase the challenge by doing this arm exercise in a seated position.
Starting with your right arm, reach it in front of you.
Be sure to keep your shoulders square and away from the ears. Ribs are securely fastened in front. Abs engage.
Maintaining the alignment in the torso, slowly reach the arm overhead. Keeping the focus on alignment. As soon as proper alignment is compromise, readjust the arm and secure proper alignment.
Be sure to do an equal amount on each arm.
Now you can try both arms together.
Don't let this happen...
Ribs are popped. Lumbar curve is exaggerated. Core is not engaged. Yikes!
Keep that alignment...
Take some time to get that posture aligned for 2014!
Thanks for hanging out.
Enjoy the dance that is life!