SFLP: Part 6

How has your internal road trip been going?  Are you keeping notes?  Have you thought about the guilt you’ve carried around, about the ways you can simplify, about the role of fitness in your life?  As a coach, I often tell my athletes, “Pick one thing you can do better right now.”  Have you found one thing to do better?

For Part 6, I’d like you to think about your posture.

Proper posture will allow your body to operate more efficiently and effectively.  To achieve postural alignment, imagine a plumb line beginning at your ear and extending through your shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle.  Have another person view you from the side in order to get an objective picture.

Poor posture can cause muscle pain, limit performance, affect digestion, impair organ function, and increase joint wear-n-tear.  And good posture can actually improve your appearance by making you look taller and your stomach flatter.  And hey, who can turn that down?

Learn to recognize the warming signs of poor posture–backache, stiff neck, headache–so that you can correct it.  Develop an awareness of your body (called a kinesthetic sense).  Relax, and don’t tense up muscles you are aren’t using.  For instance, watch yourself in the mirror as you brush your teeth.  Are your shoulders up in your ears?  Do you hold you arms stiffly and up in the air?  Do you have your head tilted back?

Learn to breath and mentally scan your body for tense areas.  Re-align and soften those areas.  Get yourself back into “plumb.”  I often find that just dropping my chin down a bit reminds me to sit or stand taller and straighter.

Take note of how often you hold yourself in stressed-out posture.  Take note of how often you sit tilted-ly in your office chair or how often you lean to one side more than the other.

It will certainly take time to reverse bad posture habits that you’ve had for years, but I am guessing that the improvements in the way your body feels will be the positive reinforcement needed to maintain a new habit.





What do slumped shoulders signify to you?  A furrowed brow?  Most of us are pretty adept at reading and understanding body language.  For example, if you see someone standing stiffly, arms akimbo, foot tapping, you probably know this isn’t a good time to ask your boss for a raise.

Clearly, our bodies reflect our mental states.  But did you ever think that the mind and body are really more like ONE entity than two?  Think about it this way:  if you are stressed and tired, sitting with your own shoulders slumped and brow furrowed, you will likely feel worse.  The slumped shoulders will create muscle tension in your back too.  But if sit up straight, take a deep breath, and let your shoulders relax, you will probably feel a little better.

The study of the relationship between mind and body is an old one.  Practitioners have gathered observations about the shape of the body, the curve of the spine, even the lines on the forehead.  Ken Dychtwald, author of “Bodymind,” explains the connection, saying, “I have discovered that (the) body and (the) mind are reflections of each other and that the emotions and experiences which have formed my personality have affected the formation and structuring of my muscles and tissue.”

Here’s one example of how our emotions and experiences are reflected in our physiology.  Consider the top half of the body compared to the bottom.  The top half of the body has to do with communicating, thinking, and expressing.  The bottom half relates to our foundation, stability, and groundedness.  If you were to compare the two halves of one person, what would the proportionality say?

Picture the cartoon character Yosemite Sam:  giant head, barrel chest, teeny legs.  Now, Yosemite Sam was always yelling and shooting off either his mouth or his six-shooter.  He’s a perfect example of how the top half (expressing) is out of proportion to the bottom (stability).  I don’t think anyone would ever accuse Sam of being stable.

If you are interested in learning more about what your feet or your forehead says about you, check out Dychtwald’s book.  I also highly recommend “Reading the Body” by Wataru Ohashi.  Now sit up straight!