By Ruth Woudstra
“Sit up straight! Stop slouching!”
Some of us may have nightmares from teachers or parents nagging us as children to correct our posture. And yet, if we are able to overcome negative associations with these reprimands, many
benefits may unfold.
Making simple adjustments to the way you sit, stand or sleep, can have a profound impact on your wellbeing.
As FM Alexander, founder of the Alexander Technique says, “You translate everything, whether physical, mental or spiritual, into muscle tension.” And if we can relieve that tension through postural alignment, all the better for mind and body.
Sitting nowadays often involves looking down at a phone or laptop screen. This can result in a stiff neck, sore shoulders and backache. When sitting at a desk, try to align the back, neck and head, and allow the head to lengthen away from the sitting bones. A good angle for the knees is 90 degrees, and the forearms should ideally be horizontal.
Simple cues for alignment while standing include distributing your weight evenly on your feet, tucking the tailbone under, and imagining a string pulling you up from the crown of the head. So the whole body lengthens while the shoulders remain relaxed.
The Alexander Technique principles for walking are simple: allow the neck to be free, the head to go forward and up, and the back to lengthen and widen.
Finally, the simple introduction of an extra cushion or pillow can help you get the most out of your sleep. A cushion between the knees when in foetal position reduces stress on the hips and lower back. If you are lying on your back, a pillow under the knees can support the natural curve of the lower back, allowing for deeper relaxation. Although sleeping on one’s stomach should be avoided because of the unnatural twist in the neck, a flat pillow under your pelvis can help align the spine.
Ultimately, keeping your body alignment in mind throughout the day will not only improve your posture and release muscle tension. It will help alleviate stress and preserve your energy with a minimum of effort.