Who's Standing How - The Posture Under the Glitz

Celebrities are constantly under scrutiny for their fashion choices and as usual, in regards to this year’s Golden Globes, much attention was paid to evening wear.  On a more refreshing note, this article from the UK skipped over fashion choices, went straight to posture and actually grazed the surface of some common postural faux-pas and misconceptions with pin-point accuracy that we can all take some pointers from.

Looking Better and More Confident

We'd do well to stand a bit taller, just like Kate Hudson and Heidi Klum demonstrated last night - and not just because it adds grace, decorum and confidence to your stature. 

Improved posture helps you to feel more centered, present, and less reactive to situations that otherwise might lead you to feel ill at ease.  You’ll convey more confidence and presence to others and may find that they respond differently to you, thus creating a cycle of conveying and reinforcing confidence.  On a more superficial note, standing taller can help you look thinner.  I've had students report that friends have asked them if they’d lost weight, when it was their posture that had changed. 

TIP:  Contrary to the advice in the article, I don’t advise pulling the shoulders back to improve posture (this causes compression down through the back – in effect, backwards slouching.  Many people actually need to release their shoulder blades up and out to achieve good posture).

Core Strength

…good posture starts with good core strength and work on your abdominal muscles

Core strength is your postural support and you can only really let it work to its full potential if you stop tensing and compressing your neck, shoulders and upper back.  If you keep holding in those areas, then they are doing extra work to hold you up.  Those muscles aren't supposed to be doing that.  They get taxed and overworked from a combination of stress and a sedentary lifestyle.  Learn to let go of the upper-back/neck/shoulder grip on yourself and you’ll give your core a chance to work properly so that you’re actually using it and can really work those core muscles as intended if you do core-strengthening exercises.   Click here to read my blog post on core strength.

Having a Perky Butt

The whole trend for sticking your bottom out doesn't help either - women force themselves to change their spine's natural position when they poke their bottom's out, which causes the lower lumber spine to slouch. Rather than working the muscles in the bottom so it becomes perky, women tend to just stick it out, which actually causes the whole body to move out of sync. 

This one relates to the previous topic, but I wanted to highlight it as the article pointed out a habit in some folks of arching the back and endeavoring to lift the behind.  This position throws off your whole alignment, weakens, your back, and disengages the natural connection between the legs and the lower back working in tandem, which is key to actually building muscle in your glutes.  Many of us get ourselves around with a lazy butt (literally) by walking or running in a way that over uses the quads and underutilized the hips and backside as the powerhouses of moving you through space.  To get this working though in a way that really works, you can’t just try and use those muscles.  The upper body must free up first to allow the legs move freely under you.  To read more on this topic, check out this article in Runner’s World.  How perky your butt is may be in part genetics, but with proper coordination you can make working your glutes a natural part of exercising and getting around throughout your day…and not being so genetically inclined, I can personally attest that this does have an effect!  Sorry, no before/after pictures! 

Next topic!...


Breath is improved, so that you feel brighter more energized

The article mentions breathing as a benefit of good posture.  As I've often brought up, truly good posture is never stiff or held and allows you to breath better, meaning that your ribs (front back and sides) move freely, your belly is neither poking out nor tight and held and can move in and out with the breath, and the lower back (the back of the belly) expands and contracts with each breath.  Take a moment to feel that your ribs go all the way around your torso.  Notice how high up they are near your collar bone and how low they go.  They should expand and contract like bellows as you breathe.  But don’t try to force breathing.  You can’t really stand up straight or breathe well if the back of your neck is tense and pulling the weight of your head down through your spine.  Alexander Technique lessons always start with freeing the neck and then letting the torso widen and the breath just pours in without effort.

Taking Alexander Technique lessons to change your posture has wide-reaching benefits that can affect you physically, mentally, and socially.  I invite you to share your experience in the comments below.