These lines explore body shapes and posture and how lifestyle, habits and bad posture affect movement, and can in time, distort the body permanently. Or well, until you create a new habit and pattern!
Life is shapes. These shapes are part of an organising process that embodies emotions, thoughts, and experiences into a structure. This structure, in turn, orders the events of existence. Shapes manifest the process of cellular history finding a personal human shape – conception, embryological development and the structures of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.
“Molecules, cells, organisms, clusters, and colonies are the beginning shapes of life’s movement. Later on, a person’s shape will be molded by the internal and external experiences of birth, growth, differentiation, relationships, mating, reproducing, working, problem solving, and death”, says Stanley Keleman on his book Emotional Anatomy. Throughout this process, shape is imprinted by the challenges and stresses of existence. Human shape is marked by love and disappointment. And then we have a Posture.
The first thing a teacher does upon meeting a new client is access the person’s body balance simply by observing posture. Posture is the link of structure balance, so the basic picture of a person’s weaknesses/strength, imbalances, and the most needed exercise right there in front of the teacher’s eyes before the client’s aims, expectations, medical history, aches and pains are detailed.
Awareness of good postural habits and how to retain them is learned at an early age from the example of adults, so people are often unconscious of wether their posture is good or bad. Most have an image of their posture and stance as it once was, but body alignment can change as we age, often becoming distorted by bad sitting or working practices acquired over time. We hardly ever change our sense and awareness of our body image, however, even if the reflexes become badly affected by bad posture. The inner eye carries an image of posture that is upright and all right. But only in a a shop window reflection or through a comment made by another person that we do sometimes catch the sight of the truth of how and where we are in relationship with space.
What then causes poor posture? As well as examples and genetics from our parents, the things we do as daily routine at home or at work are major source – the classics: slumping in front of the TVs, sitting at a computer all day. Some hobbies and professions demand that the body be used in particular ways. For example, ballet dancers walk with turned-out feet, causing the shortening of outside muscles of their legs. Some people are trained as dancers from early childhood, so the knees and hips may be permanently deform as a result. Ida Rolf points to even earlier conditioning: the habit of clothing toddlers in thick nappies forces them to develop abnormal walking movements. Later, certain jobs, such as gardening or laying paving, or habitually carrying a baby in a hip, or being a surgeon, can make the back curve forwards or distort the lower spine over time, causing chronic backache.
Travellers who grew up in countries of the industrialised West, where people commonly suffer from postural defects and unhappy shape forms, often comment on the graceful movements and stance of people from indigenous cultures, who enjoy healthier postural habits. But their understanding of the body ‘alignment’ that produces natural grace is often rudimentary, because it is rarely taught in schools. Is there anything practical and universal related to what we humans can do to improve our posture and consequently change our shapes over time? I truly believe that with right mind setting, awareness of ourselves in relationship to the space we are and the right physical conditioning training ( or active healthy lifestyle) to sustain such a structure we can achieve a balanced good posture.
Start observing how you relate to the world through your body. Where are you in space? Then never neglect your emotions, thoughts and feelings, as they will be expressed in your body. Feelings are the glue that holds us together, yet they are based upon anatomy. How do you feel? Then start remodelling your body. Choose an exercise regime that suits you, but most importantly something that interact with the body structure to improve posture and restore impaired function to joints, fascias and muscles, creating balance, confidence and sense of wellbeing.
To achieve your aims you must persevere with your exercise program and remember you are not only what you do but also what you think and feel!
Founder and Movement Lifestyle Coach