The Sensation of Good Posture

The sensation of good posture is very pleasurable. Those with good posture are using the appropriate muscles for movement and stability. These people feel free and easy, at least in their physical movements, and very likely in how they feel about themselves. They walk gracefully and look as though they know that they have that certain “something.” They easily engage with others having the same easy sensation. People within this group of posture perfect individuals are exchanging glances, rewarding smiles, and pleasant discussions. These are empowering social exchanges that lift their spirits for their whole day, the whole week, and throughout their lives.

People with good posture showcase how they feel. They have a sense of communication above what is understood by those without good posture. They use their body language to send messages to each other. These messages are actually what may be referred to as “vibes.” These vibes or positive feelings transfer almost instantaneously to their electrical/chemical impulses. In fact these feelings are their impulses.

There is no need to be left out of this group of people. We all have electrical/chemical impulses that initiate our emotions and our physical muscle movements as a “reaction.” (These impulses are also self triggered, however in this discussion let’s review those impulses triggered by others who react toward us.) This meeting on the street for example, actually is an exchange of positive electrical/chemical reactions. If you have the right stuff then you are appreciated when you are viewed. When you receive positive communication, say a pleasant “hello,” or a kind look, electrical/chemical reactions are felt within you and they are soothing and enjoyable. We’ll get to just how you can naturally be part of this selective group of people. Let’s discuss more of what this body language is and the associated sensations.

Most of the time our own emotional sensations originate within our soul, our personality. When we improve ourselves physically, then emotionally, we’ll have the personality and upright way in our movements to display a sense of peace and kindness toward others. Our own body in turn feels a certain satisfaction derived from their kind response. We can then easily exhibit an even more uplifting body and facial appearance. That’s just how it works.

It can work for us or against us. When people see our way of moving or our appearance, are they inspired? Do they like what they see? Do they feel comfortable so they can exchange pleasantries? These are important questions. Let’s delve into this.

Think of communication as a two way street or better, a cloverleaf on ramp to the “smooth highway” of socializing. There are many subtleties that one experiences as we communicate with others. To be rewarded with these pleasant sensations one must appear able to accept them. This is the two way street. Even a neutral but poised appearance on your part will bring about pleasant comments from others. The key for all this to happen often is to have the pleasing body posture and face that causes others to compliment you or at least notice you appreciably. This is the “smooth highway” mentioned earlier. The unspoken language of your body brings about a cause and effect when meeting others. Let’s make it a positive and smooth cause and effect. Let’s find out how we can do it.

How can you stimulate others to give you rewarding compliments? You can, of course, communicate with them verbally. This is important and useful. However if you have a posture that appears defeated or uninspired when talking, you may have an uphill battle to win the confidence and friendship of others.

What I wish to discuss with you in particular is the unspoken body language of good posture. A good posture is key when socializing. (a posture of grace and poise, not one of ramrod military bearing.) It is key when you make a first impression. It is key when you are viewed from afar. It is useful when you socialize because you are telling someone that you are comfortable, kind to yourself, kind to others. You are telling others that you can be trusted, you are easy to get along with and have what it takes to be associated with anyone. With good posture, you can begin to trust yourself so that you are able to choose good friends. You become more selective. Now you find that it is difficult to be friends with those who do not have similar good tastes as you. Your time and efforts won’t be wasted on those who have tastes and traits that you find undesirable.

These are the many emotional and mental facets of socializing when you have good posture. I have yet to discuss physically how good it feels just to stand walk or sit properly or how our unburdened muscles “appreciate us” when we walk correctly. Our body’s ease of movement rewards us. Our face becomes more relaxed and more prone to smiling. Our muscles become more streamlined, lengthened, and form a smooth base for the skin to layer upon. Our bones, comprised of 25% water, actually lengthen themselves to a small degree, as our lengthening muscles encourages them to do so. Our whole skeleton lengthens as we think “upwardly.” Thus our skeletal framework is “open” to accept the continued growth of our muscles and our soft tissue, no matter what age or what physical state we may be in presently. We can change for the better.

Almost all of us have bodies that at birth, arrived with all the bones, nervous system, muscles, etc, to develop into a fine, normal human being. We have a body with all the implements to move about gracefully. We have miss used ourselves, or someone perhaps misguided us up to now, teaching us how to have bad posture. We now perhaps hurry to grab or do something, too quickly we walk with little coordination. This is called “end-gaining” and we focus too much upon reaching the end point of an objective. It is unfortunate that we do not permit ourselves to enjoy the “means-whereby” to get to a certain goal. Realizing this, it is entirely possible to change for the better by switching our focus from end-gaining to concentrating on the means-whereby. To begin a physical change simply lengthen the body. Doing this will help you mentally change for the better.

Lengthen your spine, free your neck and balance you head atop your shoulders will vastly improve your posture and appearance. In fact you owe it to yourself to better your appearance and posture. You must find a personal path to enjoy yourself and others by acquiring a better posture. You must find a way to move about with grace and poise, and to enjoy the sensations of ease of movement. The sensations and impulses you feel are what F.M Alexender says is our “inherent supremacy.” When achieving such a graceful way of moving, one’s body tells oneself that, “I am feeling more confident and I have a greater poise. I have more self control over circumstances in my life. I feel a certain type of supremacy.”

Sensations are something that you must feel personally. You must reclaim these personal feelings from those that you gave to others, even when you give them away to appropriate teachers. How can you allow another person to describe the sensations you’ll feel? For example, what happens if you are asked by a teacher of the Alexander Technique to “turn you head at the very top of the spine, the C1 vertebra, and not with the neck at the C7 vertebra.” Can the teacher describe the subtle sensations you feel? Somewhat but not fully. With due respect to the AT teachers, and I have much respect for those in this field, they may describe the feelings you achieve such as having a lighter walk or being more perceptive. In truth, sensations are difficult to describe. There would be too many words required, to many subjective thoughts to verbalize, so descriptions would be inadequate to state how you really feel. Sensations are difficult to describe. This sensation of lengthening the spine and balancing the head atop the spine must be felt by the person who is doing the changing for the better. You must allow yourself to personally enjoy these powerful uplifting feelings. Acquiring and enjoying such grace, poise and personal power is a yours alone to feel.

One must personally make the effort to change and enjoy these changes as you gain a better posture. One must personally feel the pleasant sensations of a graceful walk or stance. The best way of being “described” the sensation you may feel is not by a person of authority i.e. a teacher or an instructor. No, the best description, or feedback, of how you feel when improving your posture is when you are complimented. This can happen anywhere, anytime, which makes it all the more refreshing. It could be in a social setting, formal or informal, on the street, or in the office. This type of communication cuts through the technical jargon. Your senses note a real achievement of posture improvement when there is a pleasant interaction by your peers, acquaintances or someone new.

Above all, the very best person to describe, or sense, how you feel when you make a change for the better is you. You know when you have a lightened way of movement. You know what posture adjustment you made to become more graceful. You know what poise you’ve learned, and now exhibit, to make yourself more attractive and robust. Trust yourself. Once gaining a good posture and a certain poise, you are then prepared to like or love yourself more. You are prepared to accept complements. How one feels about themselves when offered kind comments is something to be felt or sensed, not something described to us.

So do all that you can to allow yourself to enjoy these moments when compliments are given to you. Whether these compliments are subtle glances your your way, or the opposite sex moving into your personal space, a touch or a soft spoken word, they come in may forms. As simple as being asked over for dinner, or offered a drink of water can be considered a compliment. Doing all that you can to do to accept compliments includes improving posture, gaining grace and poise. When you improve your posture, compliments come in greater numbers. As your posture improves, so does your self assurance, and so does your life.

Remember to passively exercise. By that I mean lengthen the spine, free the neck and align it with the more vertical spine. Balance the head a top the neck and above the lifted shoulders. Allow the sternocleidomastoid muscles (the front pair of neck muscles) to pull up the clavicles and sternum so the shoulders and chest rise. Loosen the jaw and breathe through the nose. Do this subtly. Do it for a better you. You will be appreciably regarded.

Better Posture by Widening Shoulders and Your Back

To widen the back is one of F.M. Alexander’s key methods to achieve better posture.
Although his technique does enhance our body and mind beyond positively affecting posture, I like the technique for how it results in better posture. Lengthening the spine, freeing the neck, and balancing the head a top the shoulders is my credo and it has proven beneficial. I now have better posture and feel physically more normal than I ever have in my life. I have a certain grace and poise as I move about. I interact with others without feeling inhibited or self conscious. What a wonderful technique. My body is becoming more accustomed to my changes. I am loosening up now since my spine is more lengthened, as that is what I have been focusing on for the last decade. It seems that I come to a pleasing plateau at certain times of applying the technique. I perform the AT on various parts of my body at various times as the necessary body adjustments reveal themselves. I initially had to lengthen my body, not only just to breath more easily, but to permit my core, or chest and stomach area to more readily accept the changes to my shoulders when I widen my back. This had to take place later for me as it was a big enough job just to lengthen my spine and core area. It took several months and even years for this adjustment to become more natural. I realized later that my chest was not as high as I desired. My pectoralis are needed to fill in, with more fat, muscle, and ligament, but mainly fat. For this fattening to take place my shoulders had to widen.

I decided to raise my shoulders, lift them off of my chest because it has been suppressed enough. I found that my shoulder girdle, one of the most flexible parts of the body, is also one of the easiest to become misaligned. Over the years, it can become a mix of bones and muscles, all moved, relocated to ungainly positions. The scapulas can improperly fit over the upper ribcage. Before becoming aligned or readjusted by way of my body and spine lengthening, the upper chest provided a poor base for the overlaying scapulas and shoulder girdle. So it has been a two step process.

The scapulas in particular need to move away from my central back, to the edge of my shoulder girdle. This is a change from what I used my scapulas for in the previous years. Initially I allowed my scapulas to be lifted away from my ribcage using the neck muscles to pull up the scapulas and shoulder girdle. This permitted my ribcage to rise, allow for better breathing, and then to allow the whole body to lengthen and straighten. Now, this second step of my applying the Alexander technique, I want my shoulders to widen. So the scapulas must relax and release themselves outward. This can only be done if the whole shoulder girdle is lifted off of the ribcage first, as I have done, and then has become adjusted to having some space between it and the thorax, or ribcage. I know that we all want an overall change to happen on one easy adjustment but for some of us, the process has to be broken down into several stages. When the scapulas release themselves away from the spine, they must take with them the clavicles, the upper arms and the surrounding fat, the ligament and the muscles. The later two are the ones that want to stay where they are. They have liked where they are for years and don’t want to go to new positions, so you must stretch them as you release them outward. This brings about some pain and some popping, sort of like bursitus, but your are self inducing this so it is not bursitus. It is up to each of us how far we want to allow for this pain and adjustment, but as they say, no pain, no gain. Seriously, this stretching and subsequent pain is not forever. The stretched shoulder builds and becomes acclimated over time, and your released shoulder girdle adjusts to its more widen state. Better said, you become more adjusted to your widened shoulders.

In this final movement you must consider the point where your shoulder girdle attaches to your skeleton. That is at your sternum and particularly the upper part of the sternum, the manubrium. At the upper part of the manubrium are notches where the clavicles connect. The only place where your shoulder bones connect to other bones of the skeleton. This point of connection brings about a great meaning for we humans. Such a subtle, almost tenuous connection of where our shoulders meet our skeleton. but a connection that is similar to other mammals and birds. Consider for a moment that you are a bird. Your arms are your wings and the shoulders are where the bird gets its power to lift off and fly. In the same way your arms, being very mobile, are doing much work for you throughout the day. The shoulders and arms are connected by bone to the chest and the rest of the body at the manubrium and sternum. The pectoralis muscles do a lot to provide power for arm and shoulder movement. Even the whole upper body and perhaps our pelvis gives and receives a lot of energy when we move our arms, because if nothing else, our bodies shift to keep balance when our arms move. Maintaining the proper position of our head, our shoulders, our torso requires muscles movement. This balance and poise is exactly what we want to keep and we move our arms and shoulders, as we move our whole selves about in this wonderful world.

So releasing the shoulder girdle is surprisingly a major adjustment. We must become like a bird unfurling its wings and allow our arms to release so our shoulders can release. Our arms are like bird wings that must engage our sternum and whole chest. This engagement pulls our sternum and manubrium to a higher and more robust position. The chest has to be pulled outward, at its apex, simply to allow your shoulder girdle to widen, and visa versa. One result of this is that you are now opening your chest to receive more air. Further your pectoralis muscles and those associated ligaments and muscles are stretched outward, to your sides, and away from your sternum. Over time these muscles allow for the deltoid muscles of lengthen and then some fat to accumulate, so the shoulders become more full. A nice definition of the upper chest and shoulders are a result.

Let’s review the first step, using the Alexander Technique to lengthen the spine. Some may say that raised shoulders makes one appear nervous. I think the opposite. As long as the shoulders are not held up too high, up around the ears, I think they look nice held higher and squared. Think of Frank Sinatra, who had better posture than many singers of his time. Shoulders, when held higher, one’s appearance improves greatly. They are more level, and held within two inches of the chin, your posture looks great. Actually, with the lungs able to take in more air, one becomes less nervous and less stressful. This allowed my chest to rise as well. This shoulder position also removes the gangly appearance of my neck and head. The too forward position of both my head and neck were alleviated by the following. I achieve better posture by positioning my shoulders higher. I align my neck with my lengthened spine. I position head more rearward and balance my head on the top of my more vertical, lengthened spine. Breathe through the nose. Loosen and jut out the chin just a bit and you have a great posture. This sounds “busy” but once you practice this adjustment to your back, neck, and head, you’ll find that it is rather simple, and pleasing.

It is true that when one raises their shoulders, they actually narrow a bit. For me though, lung capacity increases. I instantly felt a weight off of my chest. And I was acquiring better posture naturally. However widening the back and the shoulders had to come later. That time has now come for me!

After a year or two of one’s shoulders having raised and become “set,” and also the chest having risen, then you can begin the process of widening the shoulders. This is a simple adjustment to attain a wider chest and better posture. I am letting my scapulas, or shoulder blades, the big triangular shoulder bones in upper back, slip outwardly, while still keeping my shoulders raised.  Actually with my chest having risen and being “set, it does its part holding up my shoulders.  The chest’s deltoid muscles, the muscles attaching the outer shoulders to my chest, also release outward to pull up the chest. The upper arm bone or the femer bone moves away from the collar bones, or clavicles.  Widening the shoulder not only looks good, but the relaxed position of my back, shoulders, head, and neck feel good. Better posture is normal for me now. Now you are prepared to widen the shoulders and back.

The shoulders consist of a few bones floating amid these muscles and ligaments. The only place where the shoulder is connected to a bone is where the clavicles connect to the sternum. This is why they can be “dislocated.” The shoulders are very movable and for our benefit, can be adjusted. They can be adjusted and repositioned. They can be put back or relocated by oneself, and over time, widened. My shoulders are as wide as they’ve ever been. They will continue to widen now that I am simply allowing them, primarily the scapulas, to fall away from my neck region. Also, with my more open upper body, my chest rises further, my breathing easier, as my shoulders widen. I like the new feel of having a wider, better posture. I am more relaxed and pleased with who I am. I have much better posture and a more normal appearance. My chest is positioned higher and stable. With it being placed higher, my chest feels like it is holding up my shoulders as it is would normally do. There are many benefits to widening the shoulders.

This change is part of a process both physically and over time. Just as an untrained person cannot pick up a guitar and play show tunes, one must retrain your body’s appearance for better posture after years of misusing your body. When you focus on your body’s movements and appearance, read about the Alexander Technique, perhaps visit a teacher of this method, you will have better posture and change your appearance for the better.

This bears repeating. The first steps for better posture and self improvement are to lengthen the spine, free the neck, and position one’s head above the shoulders. Once you’ve made this initial adjustment, your neck muscles will pull up the clavicles, sternum and upper ribs. Then your shoulders are lifted. This creates room for the chest to rise.

Your body needs to make some initial adjustments in some parts of the body in order to change other parts later on. After your body has stabilized from a few months or about a year of lengthening the spine, it will accommodate other regions of your body. In this case, after the “mast” of your spine holds steady, the neck muscles do the lifting of the shoulders and chest. Like ropes, the muscles are attached at the back and base of the vertically aligned and balanced skull. These muscles, that are also attached to the clavicles and the upper ribs, are ready to pull upward the shoulder girdle and upper ribs. This is a subtle adjustment and quite a relief from other ways to align and raise the shoulders and chest, thus improving one’s posture. The lengthened spine also straightens the curve at the lower back, so one’s pelvic tilt is removed. The pelvis bones are aligned more vertically, and one’s gait becomes smoother. This is a delightful way to move about as we enjoy this newly acquired way to live. It’s like we’re given a second chance, one that many of us need.

It is impossible to talk about one bone, one muscle, or even one region of the body when trying to achieve better posture. The whole body interacts with the particular bone, muscle or body region one wishes to focus on. The shoulders are widened after these initial adjustments of lengthening and stabilizing the spine. After you have spent a good deal of time lengthening the back and raising the shoulders, you will have “set” your shoulders to a higher position. Begin to widen the shoulders by allowing them to adjust and “slip” away from your neck region. Remember to keep the shoulders at a higher level. This is important.

A tip: When walking with your shoulders widened, allow for a little rocking or “sway” at the tip of the shoulder to take place with each step. (The same shoulder as your leading foot). Think Frank Sinatra, or Marilyn Monroe. You want this to happen because it is a coordination motion. It’s a natural movement, a sensation, especially when you’re feeling good. But please, don’t make it too pronounced. Done improperly and you may appear awkward. This is a tip for the people who’ve adjusted to, and feel very comfortable with, their better posture.

If you’ve read most of my articles and my books, you’ll know that changing for the better, to attain better posture, is a process. It can be a lengthy process. With determination on your part, you can achieve a better posture and a better life.