How are you feeling? How’s your body feeling? Any aches and pains? How’s your head? How’s your anxiety levels? How are you?
In this blog we're looking at posture and how it can affect how you feel, how your body feels and your emotional health. The human body doesn’t always find it easy to stand up straight. Back problems are at an astronomical level. If you don’t have a back, neck, shoulder or head problem, count yourself incredibly lucky. There are chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists, massage therapists, aromatherapy massage, cranio-sacral therapists, acupuncturists, kinesiologists, shiatsu, hot stone, sports therapists, deep tissue massage therapists and many more. Lets also look at gym and PT, boot camps, yoga, pilates - all there to help keep your body straight and in alignment.
Back problems can occur due to the driving we have to do for our job, looking after small children which involves bending and lifting, a physically demanding job or a sedentary job behind a computer screen. Add also injuries, accidents, wearing high heels or shoes too flat or stooping because you’re tall, pregnancies and once more the list goes on.
For a lot of people treating a bad back is a difficult thing. The cost of a chiropractor or osteopath can be too high. Waiting to see a physio too long. Massage therapist…would that work for the problem I have? And would I look foolish asking? Yoga/pilates – I don’t want to stand behind some skinny, bendy, lycra-clad being who is only there to make me feel inadequate and I would do myself an injury just walking through the doors of a gym.
Ok. Breathe. There are many, many reasons for a bad back and there are as many solutions to helping with a bad back. Ultimately it is your responsibility to find a way to keep it under control. Finding a treatment which works for you, a therapist that works for you and a routine that works for you but also adding something as simple as a grounding exercise can be of benefit.
Click on google and type in posture and it is easy to work out what is correct posture and what isn’t. What I want to deal with is bringing your body back into a neutral position both on a physical and energetic level. Have you been feeling like you’ve been wandering around with your head in the clouds, disconnected to anything and anyone around you? Have you felt anxious and tense? Getting into a routine of grounding yourself can really help.
Stand up. Stand with your feet hip width apart. Feet pointing forward. Your knees in alignment with your ankles and slightly bent, just slightly.
We need to drop your shoulders. This is not the same as pulling your shoulders back. Often if I say drop your shoulders people pull back their shoulders and their chin juts forward. What I’m looking for is lengthening of the neck, the head high and the shoulders lower down and not looking like the ears are wearing them as earrings. Slide the shoulders down rather than back. It may help to take a deep breath and shrug and drop the shoulders as you exhale.
You may find that imagining a piece of string coming out of the top of your head which pulls your head up is the way that helps you drop your shoulders.
Or you can try lifting your chin.
Ideally the head is up, with a space between the ears and shoulders, shoulders are dropped, hands hang loosely by your side. Chest is proud but not too extended. Stomach is held in. Bottom is tucked under. Hips are over the knees; knees are over the feet.
This is the time when you realise that your posture can be a little all over the place as you try to bring it back. Or you may say ‘oh we do this is in yoga or pilates’ Yes this has been around for centuries, it’s not a new thing and that means there is a reason that its survived this long. Sometimes it helps to think of a soldier or ballerina to emulate strength and grace, if you think of their postures, they are upright and held, however the posture is more than we need to use and is only a guide. I am only asking that you hold this for a few seconds, possibly a few minutes to feel how it feels. It may be worth doing it in front of a mirror to see if your idea of straight actually is straight. Once you have found the position which you can see, and feel is in posture alignment, breathe and relax a little. Once you have found that your body can find its neutral position keep practicing. It can be whilst you’re boiling the kettle for a cup of tea that you check in on yourself and pull everything back into a straight neutral position. The more you practice, the quicker it is to find it, the easier it is to do it and the more noticeable it is when you’re not in it. If you find that you’re in pain try going into your neutral position to see if there is any respite for going into good posture. Be gentle with yourself.
Another way of using posture is to help with anxiety, a feeling of disconnection to the world, or feeling overwhelmed.
Sometimes going for a walk, a run or gardening can be of help. The feel of the earth is a way of naturally grounding. Cycling, swimming or water sports are not the same and although they can be spiritually nourishing they do not connect you to the earth and instead you are still detached.
This is a grounding exercise which can be very useful for times of difficulty, practice it as much as possible and you’ll find that it quickly becomes second-nature to you.
Now as the drawing illustrates below, drawing is not my forte. I can only apologise but this as an artists (!) impression of perfect posture.
(the illustrations shows the line of energy running through the body and down to the feet where it becomes roots, the chakras are shown as spinning wheels which the energy passes through on its way down)
Find yourself in your neutral position. At the top of your head, at your crown, imagine a beam of energy or light, now this can be attached to the sun, moon, stars, universe, your God’s energy or it can be just a beam of light but it must come from a place higher than your head. Bring the light in through the crown of your head, through your head to your throat, down your body running down your arms at the same time as it runs down your heart, solar plexus, sacral and to the base chakra (where your legs join the torso) at this point the energy travels down each leg until it reaches your feet. Once it hits your feet (at the point between the heel and the ball of your feet) it becomes thick, strong roots. These roots anchor you to the earth as you imagine them growing down into the earth below you. As you become more accomplished it won’t matter if you are standing barefoot on grass or on top of a tall building you will be able to ground yourself and feel grounded, its just a question of connecting up and feeling the energy move through the body and become roots in the earth.
You may feel that your head is in the clear, light and connected to the clouds. Your feet are firmly attached to the floor and your body is free and strong.
If you are used to grounding and have some interest in the chakra system, are a healer or enjoy the sense of healing this can be used to check in on yourself and feel the energy hitting each chakra and imagine it spinning in perfect alignment with each chakra and as a whole. You may want to bring the colour, sound, smell of each chakra as you ground. Ultimately this is a grounding exercise so try not to go off on a tangent.
To do the grounded exercise seated you have another of my marvelous illustrations.
(the illustrations shows the line of energy running through the body, between the legs and down to the feet where it becomes roots, the chakras are shown as spinning wheels which the energy passes through on its way down)
This time the energy travels the same way through the body but when it reaches the base chakra it turns into a tripod, splintering down the legs but also between the legs where it becomes rooted so you feel that the energy keeps the posture beautifully.
I hope this may be a helpful exercise for you. Remember to breathe. Try and practice it as often as possible and enjoy the feeling of connection.