Folks, I had to share this.
You know how we tend to believe it's inevitable to get more hunched with age?
It's not true.
The only reason we hunch more as we age is that we've had more years to practice bad habits. I was very motivated, back in 2009, to change my habits because I was in a lot of pain. Like, could barely walk pain. In fact, it seems blindingly obvious now, looking at the picture below, that thrusting my ribs forward and not using my posterior muscles at ALL was exacerbating, if not causing, the problem.
Yes, I am not ashamed to admit that the ass in the 2009 picture was a droopy one. No muscle use there, and it jiggled when I walked. It doesn't now. Those muscles are too busy propelling me forward.
Now, in a perfect situation, all my joints would be lined up vertically. I am still not there - my ribs and pelvis are still thrust, among other things , but oh my, the progress.
You can see in the 2009 picture that I had clearly subscribed to the idea that pushing my ribs forward & lifting my chest was good posture. It's a myth.
In fact, there are loads of unuseful myths about posture out there.
I'll be teaching a workshop early next year on how I made (and continue to make) these changes but here are the basics:
- I made time every day to rest. Not in bed, but on the yoga mat. Like this, and this.
- I began to use my posterior muscles in a functional way. Yes, squats, done right.
- I started to relax my psoas muscles. It is, in my opinion, the muscle that needs to be changed first when working on posture.
- I worked on my shoulder and upper back mobility. A locked upper back and tight shoulders make it almost impossible to stand upright & use the muscles in the back of your body properly.
If you have pain, or think your posture could do with some work (hint, everyone's could) I encourage you to try some of these for yourself. Regular practice will create small changes quickly, and over time, big changes like the ones you see above.
A flatter tummy in one simple step? yep. But notice I said SIMPLE step, not easy. Because changing habits - repatterining your nervous system - takes effort and persistence. Back that thing up, you will get a flatter tum tum AND a happier back. Win.
Have you noticed how much we talk about posture round here? What we actually mean is good biomechanical alignment, but posture is an easier catch-all term.
One of my favourite things to do, when I've got the time - say, at retreats, or workshops, or teacher trainings, is to take photos of people from the side and SHOW them what their alignment is really like. It's a super-quick way to bust the myths about good posture, like I'm going to do now.
Understanding how your body relates to gravity can make all the difference to your yoga postures and your daily-life posture too.
People have been asking me what I mean when I say we will be doing 'biomechanically updated yoga' at the retreat. It's a term that refers to yoga that uses what we now know about how human bodies work.
Biomechanics is the science of applying the laws of mechanics and physics to living things, or more specifically in our case, the human body. It helps All The Things. Comfort, pain reduction, improved metabolism, lower blood pressure even!