In today's fast-paced world, maintaining good posture often takes a back seat in our busy lives. However, poor posture can lead to a host of physical discomforts, musculoskeletal issues, and reduced productivity. If you're constantly on the go and struggling to prioritize your posture, the Alexander Technique offers a practical and effective solution. In this blog post, we'll explore how even the busiest individuals can incorporate the principles of the Alexander Technique into their daily routines, promoting effortless posture and overall well-being.
Understanding the Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique is an educational method that helps individuals become more aware of their posture and movement/behaviour patterns. Developed by F. Matthias Alexander, it focuses on retraining the body and mind to move with greater ease and efficiency. By addressing habits that contribute to poor posture, such as slouching or tensing certain muscles, the Alexander Technique promotes a more free and balanced way of being.
Improving posture doesn't require strength training; it primarily relies on behavioural adjustments. By modifying coordination and behavior, the postural muscles will naturally develop the strength required. Simply strengthening muscles in isolation doesn't bring about a behavioral transformation.
7 Steps to Better Posture
- Mindful Body Awareness: The first step in achieving good posture is cultivating mindful body awareness. Throughout your day, take brief moments to tune into your body. Notice any areas of tension, slumping, or misalignment. By simply acknowledging these patterns, you set the foundation for change and can begin to make conscious adjustments. As Alexander Teacher Mio Morales likes to say, "the observation is the win".
- Lengthen Your Spine: One of the fundamental principles of the Alexander Technique is allowing the spine to lengthen. This is achieved by allowing the neck muscles to release into length so that the head rotates forward over the atlanto-occipital joint (where your skull joins your spine). The traditional reminder in the Technique is to "let your neck be free, to let your head go forward and up". It's really a reminder to prevent the opposite, a tightening of the neck that pulls the head back and down, the most salient word is let. This simple adjustment can significantly improve your posture and help alleviate strain on your neck and back.
- Sitting with Awareness: If you spend a significant portion of your day sitting at a desk, it's crucial to maintain good poise to avoid developing aches and pains. It's important to recognise that sitting and standing are effectively the same thing for your spine/torso. You use the bony part of our bottom, the sit-bones on the underside of your pelvis to to support you in such a way that you want to think of sitting as standing up on your bottom. Maintain your poise as you make your way towards the chair by envisioning a gentle squatting motion until the chair naturally halts your movement. While it is acceptable to lean back against the chair's backrest, begin with proper support in a seated position, then gradually pivot backward from the hip joints while ensuring continuous contact with the sit-bones and keeping pressure off the tailbone (coccyx).
- Get a little help from Einstein: Your posture doesn't need to fight against gravity; instead, gravity offers everything necessary for maintaining good, effortless posture and serves as the practical foundation for the Alexanderian principle of Non-Doing (which is all about allowing). While most perceive gravity in the manner Newton initially proposed, it's important to note that although his equations remain applicable, the underlying theory is flawed. Gravity does not act as a direct force pulling between objects. Einstein's Theory of General Relativity reveals that it operates in a more counter-intuitive manner. To truly comprehend and embrace this concept, you must fundamentally grasp that the Earth is continuously accelerating upwards beneath you. It is through this perpetual dance of "surfing" the upthrust that you maintain balance and continually seek the upward support that gravity provides. Posture is not merely a fixed position; it is a dynamic movement. Believing that gravity pulls you downward is akin to teaching someone to swim by falsely claiming that water is attempting to drag them under, instead of teaching them about buoyancy.
- Movement Breaks: Sitting or standing for extended periods can lead to postural fatigue. Take regular movement breaks throughout your day to release tension. These mini-breaks not only support good posture but also increase blood circulation and boost your energy levels.
- Phone and Computer Ergonomics: In the digital age, our posture is often compromised by excessive phone or computer usage. Optimize your workstation ergonomics by ensuring that your computer screen is at eye level, and your keyboard and mouse are within comfortable reach. Avoid hunching over your phone or laptop by raising them to eye level with a stand or using a laptop stand with an external keyboard. These adjustments encourage a more neutral and relaxed posture. However, it's important to note that physically follow your mental attention. Digital devices and furniture are inanimate objects incapable of direclty influencing your behavior. By cultivating a broader sense of awareness, you can diminish the impact of external factors on your actions.
- Mindful Posture Check-Ins: Set reminders throughout your day to check in with your posture. Use phone alarms, sticky notes, or digital apps to prompt you to evaluate your behaviour. Take a moment to adjust your posture consciously ("head forward and up"), releasing tension and reestablishing a more balanced and comfortable dynamic.
In a busy world where we often neglect our posture, the Alexander Technique offers a valuable approach to cultivating good postural habits. By developing body awareness, practicing mindful sitting and standing, prioritizing relaxation in support, and seeking professional guidance, even the busiest individuals can experience the benefits of improved posture. The Alexander Technique provides a unique approach to posture by focusing on releasing unnecessary tension and promoting natural alignment. Without an environment to function in, functional movement, including your posture, is meaningless. Just like water more than just supports a fish in swimming, let the Earth and yourself collaborate as a unified entity to maintain optimal posture.
Consider seeking guidance from a certified Alexander Technique teacher who can provide personalized instruction and hands-on guidance. Even a few sessions can equip you with tools and insights to improve your posture and overall well-being. Remember, investing time and effort in your posture today can have a profound impact on your long-term health and well-being.