Update 12/13/11: It’s here again, this time at Prana Cambridge on Saturday, 12/17/11. There is still space! Sign-up here.
In my work, especially with private clients, I talk some about “postural patterning”. In fact, I am giving a workshop about it on Saturday at Prana Power Yoga in Newton. (plug, plug, plug) When I first use the word, I’m often greeted by quizzical looks, you know, those looks somewhere between “is he still speaking English?” and “what is he smoking?” But it really isn’t that complicated, and I think it is that important.
Most of us, we stand more on one foot, or drive a lot, or study with one elbow slumped on a desk, or hunch our shoulders working at a computer, or…
Stand up for a minute and close your eyes. (okay, finish this paragraph first) With your eyes closed, do you immediately become wobbly? If you do, how does your body move to counteract that? Once you’re not wobbly, can you notice if you lean a little forward, or a little back, more on the right foot or the left?
If you do, know that that’s normal- most of us aren’t completely centered. When you think about it, the reasons are easily understandable. We lean more on our stronger leg, or the leg we drive with. If we wear a lot of high heeled shoes or cowboy boots, we’re more likely to put more weight in our toes, etc.
Our body learns these movement patterns and adjusts to them- the muscles that bear more weight become stronger, the muscles we use less don’t. The body build tissue around an injury, but then when the injury heals the tissue doesn’t necessarily disappear with it. (Why someone may limp long after the injury that caused the limp goes away) Problems arise when the new normal our body creates causes tension and pain in the body- a lot of back and knee pain can be attributed directly to postural imbalances.
Almost all yoga is a huge help in addressing postural imbalance- it’s no coincidence that most yogis seem tall and long regardless of their actual height. As is deep tissue massage. (A topic we’ll also cover on Saturday) But you don’t have to suddenly take five classes a week to change your posture.
Remember the maxim from physics- “merely observing an object changes it’s behavior”? Apparently research is finding this is true down to the submolecular level. It’s true for bodies- pay attention to how you’re sitting, right now. Did you just move? As with so much, awareness is the key.
And, well, you could always take my workshop…