I have a girlfriend that is training to become a yoga instructor. So another friend Gail and I have been letting her practice on us. Can you imagine? Semi-private yoga instruction twice a week. What a treat for us!
One thing I noticed in meeting with Carla is that she has such lovely posture. Honestly she holds herself like a ballerina. I asked her last week “Do you use good posture all of the time?” And with a puzzled look on her face she said “I guess so?!”
As you are reading this, how is your posture right now? Are you sitting upright? Are you slouching your back? Have you totally sunk into your chair?
When I was a child I can remember hearing that princesses had beautiful posture. I spent more than one afternoon walking around trying to balance a book on my head so that I too could walk like a princess.
You may be thinking what does good posture have to do with healthy living.
Why Have A Good Posture?
There are 5 key benefits from maintaining a good posture.
1 Facilitates breathing: A good posture naturally enables you to breathe properly. This is why yoga, pilates and meditation exercises pay so much attention to getting your posture and positioning correct.
2 Increases concentration and thinking ability: When you are breathing properly, you increase your thinking ability too. Our brain requires 20% of oxygen to do its job properly. More air, more oxygen. More oxygen, more brain food. More brain food leads to better thoughts and ideas.
3 Improve your image: People with good posture look smarter, younger and more attractive. Have you ever seen someone with a bad posture and felt the person seemed unkempt, even though the person has not said or done anything yet? On the flip side, someone with a good posture naturally exudes an aura of assertiveness and appeal.
4 Feel even better about yourself: When you have a good posture, it helps to make you feel more self-confident, without even doing anything else different. Try sitting in a bad posture for 30 seconds. Now, switch to a good posture for 30 seconds as well. Is there any difference in how you felt?
5 Avoid health complications: Bad posture can result in several complications over time, such as increased risks of slipped disc, back aches, back pain, pressure inside your chest, poor blood circulation etc.
How To Improve Your Posture
Here are some tips which can improve your posture and keep it that way.
1 Identify your key motivation for having a good posture: Why do you want to improve your posture? Is it to improve your breathing? To boost others’ perception of you? To feel more confident about yourself? To avoid health problems? Be clear on your underlying desire so you can remind yourself of it whenever you feel lazy about your posture.
2 Pretend your body is held by a string: This is an analogy shared by my yoga teaching friend and I find it very helpful. It might sound weird, but it’s pretty effective. Pretend that your spine and head are held up by a string suspended from the ceiling. Make sure that your shoulders are relaxed and not hunched up. It can be tempting to tense other parts of your body when trying to keep correct posture. But imagining you are hanging from a string tends to help you focus on keeping your back properly aligned and loosening your other muscles.
3 Set a reminder to check in on your posture: Many of us may have the intention to keep a good posture, but we usually forget about it after 5 minutes! A reminder in the form of a post-it note, item in your calendar, alarm, etc. can definitely help. The frequency is up to you, from once a day to as frequent as every 15 minutes. With sufficient reminders, you will start kicking into a good posture naturally soon.
4 Eliminate bad habits that cultivate bad postures: This includes watching TV/reading while slumped down, working under dim light (which results in slouching), walking in a slouchy way with your stomach muscles slack.
5Get a good quality chair: A good chair will be one that has a sufficiently firm and dense cushion with back support.
6 Ground both your feet when standing or sitting. This means having both feet planted flat on the floor and not resting your weight on a particular foot, which is a very common habit. While sitting, try not to cross your legs. This helps to keep the upper part of our body straight.
7 Avoid carrying heavy items: Just the act of carrying heavy items can be bad for our shoulders and back. I made a life change when I started working toward a daily goal of walking 10,000 steps a day and that is to “try to work inefficient.” Instead of straining my back by carrying in several sacks of groceries at once I try to practice good posture and make an extra trip or two. The extra steps are a fitness bonus!
8 Engage in exercises which strengthen your back: These include pilates, yoga, exercise balls and simple stretching. Strengthening your core includes your back muscles so add core exercises to your daily regime.
9 Get a professional assessment: If you have an extremely bad posture and a history of back injuries or backaches, it will be good to visit a chiropractor or physical therapist for a professional assessment. He/she can advise you on how to better take care of your back.
You guessed it ladies to earn the 5 bonus points per day for a total of 35 for the week you must make a plan to work on your posture in some way every day! Good luck!