Information & insights for graceful living.
How to Stand Beautifully (and Comfortably!)May 5, 2016
You can always spot a ballerina in a crowd because of her beautiful posture. Sure it looks elegant, but good posture also sets the stage for ease of movement, elevated mood and energy levels, and a positive neural feedback loop that communicates to your brain and the rest of the world what a confident, positive, and energetic person you are!
Of course, it’s easy to say “stand up straight!”, but what is good posture and how do you engage it?
Maintaining a tall spine is a full-body phenomenon. These are the 4 Zones of Posture and how to engage them effectively.
1. FEET stand equally.
The way we stand with our feet carries right on up through the spine. Your weight should be divided equally between both feet. Each foot should connect with the floor across the entire ball of the foot and the heel. Pay attention to the edges of the feet and avoid letting the ankles buckle outwards (sickling) or the arches collapse inwards (pronation).
2. PELVIS is neutral.
The pelvis is actually the most critical physical element of posture, which makes sense considering it’s the heaviest part of the human skeleton. But most people hold the pelvis less than optimally. Tipping the tailbone back (most common) arches the back and exaggerates the curve of the lower spine while tucking the tailbone forward exaggerates the curve of the upper spine and causes the shoulders to hunch forward.
To hold the pelvis correctly, first check in with the tailbone. Release it downward between the heels, neither tucking nor arching. As you release the tailbone downwards between the heels, gently hug in your lower abdominals. This is the key to good posture that will keep your lower back comfortable! Most of the work of standing up straight actually comes from the abdominals.
NOTE: Wearing high heels causes the tailbone to arch, putting pressure on the lower spine, which can cause considerable lower back pain. Especially in heels, try dropping your tailbone and hugging in your lower core to alleviate low back discomfort.
3. SHOULDERS are wide.
Many people think that throwing the shoulders back and lifting the chin is all it takes to have good posture. But pinching the shoulders backwards can cause discomfort and other postural issues. The goal is to open across the front of the chest. To open up the chest and collarbones without pinching the back, imagine the front tips of the shoulders moving side-to-side away from each other. As you do this, hug in the lower abdominals and trying not to take the effort in your neckline. Instead, let the shoulders fall away from the ears as they widen.
4. HEAD floats upwards.
Last, but not least, the head should be well aligned. To do this, imagine the whole top of the head floating upwards. This will lengthen and release the neck while keeping the ears hovering directly above the shoulder line. The human head is rather heavy, so with good alignment, you will feel both lighter and taller. Also, carrying the head in this balanced way transmits an air of confidence and authority!
Paying attention to your posture and developing good habits is well worth the effort and will keep you standing tall both physically and mentally. So next time you’re feeling “in a slump”, try engaging the 4 Zones of Posture for an instant lift in both your stance and outlook!
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