Posture & Alignment
Image of < >

Posture & Alignment - It's About Choice

It’s about having choice. One of my teachers said this in an alignment clinic, and its stuck with me ever since. I was feeling like a wooden artist's mannequin from adjustment after tweak after adjustment to find precise alignment. Weary from the strength and will required to hold oneself in this desired but unfamiliar position, I was so tense I didn’t even have the choice to breathe. Good alignment was at the time quite foreign to my body, challenging to find in the first place and let alone retain it. I was incredulous.

Recent posts by Ginnaya Turner
Posture & Alignment
Posture & Alignment - It's About Choice
It’s about having choice. One of my teachers... (read more)
Yoga Resolutions 2013, Renee Naturally
Falling Off The Resolution Wagon? Try Yoga!
Amongst all the celebrations, many of us... (read more)
Lotus flowers, Renee Naturally
A Moment To Pause
This time of year always seems faster and... (read more)

When your body knows good posture and alignment, you have the choice to be in good posture and alignment. If all you know is a state of weakness and collapse; or conversely one of intense rigidity as many over stressed, over worked people will be familiar with, you only have one option - your current uncomfortable, often painful and distracting, state.I’m not suggesting standing around all day like a sergeant major (not good posture anyway – see rigidity above).

Yogis slouch over their keyboard and crumple on the couch at the end of the day as much as other people, but with an underlying tone. Relaxed rather than collapsed. When yogis sit or stand tall and straight, it’s with softness and ease, not tension.

Aside from managing any aches and pains poor posture might cause, there are many reasons good posture is important. One being the extra energy it affords you. If your natural state is one of collapse, your body becomes a dead weight. It is hard work to carry around, heavy and sluggish, and this lethargy is usually reflected in the mind. With the effort that is required to drag yourself from sunrise to sunset its no wonder you’ve got no energy at the end of the day.

The same amount of undue energy exertion applies to an overly held or ‘propped’ position. Often trained into us as kids with the familiar bark ‘Stand up Straight!’ we hold ourselves as stiff as a board from the misguided perception that a dead straight spine is good posture. It’s super hard work to remain in that position all day, which not only creates ongoing tension patterns in the muscles, but also inhibits the breath.

How can it inhibit breath? Try it for yourself. Stand comfortably and watch your natural breath. Then adopt a ‘sergeant major’ position - straight back, chest out, chin up, arms firm by your side - and notice how your breath changes. You’ll find that your breath becomes short and shallow, and even if you try to take a full breath, your held position wont let you.

Somewhere between these two states is one of ease. Posture becomes dynamic and self-renewing. With each movement the body works as a whole to find the best position and the best way to support it; movements become fluid, graceful and not the least bit energy consuming. This certainly sounds like the preferable choice, however it can be a challenge to transition from one state of being to another.

For example, if you tend towards collapse, you will need to build tone, strength and alignment. If prop is your pattern, you will need to work through muscle tension, and find underlying support so that your muscles don’t have to do all the work. From either state you will probably need to address your breath, become more aware of your body and challenge old patterns, physically and mentally.

As we find a new way of being it takes us into unfamiliar territory, which can be scary or just plain odd, but just because your current habitual posture is familiar, it doesn’t make it correct. This is why it is always valuable to work with a good teacher, either in a class or one-on-one, who can give guidance and support while you unravel the old and rebuild the new.

Like anything worthwhile it will take patience, effort and fortitude to find your ideal alignment, and for it to become your norm. Ease and grace is your reward. The other option is to stay in a perpetual state of discomfort. Which do you choose?

Ginnaya xx

Add new comment