Body Awareness and Good Posture

Until this yoga training course opened my eyes, I had been oblivious to how the human body moves. My eccentric posture since I was a toddler features a funny slouch from protracting my shoulders, rounding my back, and tilting my hips in a posterior angle.  In addition, I am one of the clumsiest people. Much like the absent-minded professor, I regularly walk into glass doors and bump into furniture. Once in a while, I trip over my own feet while walking. Fortunately, with this newly gained knowledge of anatomy and increased body awareness, all of these unconscious habits are already changing.

In the anatomy sessions, we learned that the most efficient standing posture is to stand with the feet slightly apart, legs straight, hips in a neutral to slight anterior tilt, core slightly engaged to hold the lower back and hips in alignment, shoulders retracted and depressed, hands supinated so that the palms face forwards, neck straight, chin parallel to floor or slightly down. This posture position is similar to Tadasana or mountain pose, except in Tadasana, there are more powerful contractions at the glutes, quadriceps, shoulders blades, core, and pelvic floor, and the palms face the body.  So a good standing posture is essentially a more relaxed Tadasana that can be sustained indefinitely. The key insights for me in correcting my posture are that I need to develop a new habit of constantly retracting the shoulder blades and engaging the core to hold in the back and hips.  Luckily the regular asana sessions are developing and strengthening all of these muscles so they are easier to keep turned on.

As for my clumsiness, since regular asana practice tones the muscles, improves reflexes and cultivates overall mindfulness and awareness, I am also expecting to naturally become a more coordinated and agile person in the days ahead.  The key to mastering the asanas involves controlling body movement in sync with breathing.  One tool is squeezing the pelvic floor muscles and the core in the bandha state, which changes the center of gravity and makes the lower body more weightless, thereby providing more control, stability, and balance in quick movements, deep bends, and inversions. This is why bandha makes jumps, headstands, shoulder stands and forward bends more effortless and graceful.

In conclusion, one of the biggest benefits of this yoga training so far for me is that I can now make use of body awareness, breathing, and the bandha in normal life to improve my posture, coordination and gracefulness and to maintain a steady balance and move ergonomically throughout the day.  In addition, with good posture, I can be a few inches taller without wearing heels!