Do you feel like your posture isn't what it should be? That maybe you should do some posture correction exercises to relieve your pain and discomfort?
You are probably right... but the kind of exercises you need have more to do with waking up your brain's ability to make new connections and feel alive again... the posture improvement will be a secondary benefit.
We get in a rut in life, physically and neurologically, where we are stuck in the same routine day after day. We stop making new connections, lose focus on our goal, and become disconnected from our bodies.
How do we get out of the rut?
The 9 essentials of vitality!
How are these posture correction exercises?
We will get there in just a minute.
Anat Baniel has written a book, Move Into Life: The 9 Essentials of Vitality, where she discusses at length how to use these nine essentials. Here they are... be careful that their simplicity doesn't deceive you! These factors have been shown in the research to turn on neuroplasticity.
1. Movement with Attention - As opposed to the automatic motion that we so often perform, this is slowing down and paying attention to how we move to allow our brains to make new and better connections, and reorganize the motion. I often have patients take a motion that is giving them trouble and slow it way down and pay attention to the motion. I have them pay attention to various parts of their body as they do the motion to give the brain plenty of information to reorganize the motion.
2. The Learning Switch - Basically, you are curious and learning about everything or you are not. Turn your curiosity back on! Anat has suggestions for how to turn the switch back on.
3. Subtlety - Pushing harder will not necessarily get you there. Sometime backing off and trying with less force will get you better results, and maybe in a way you didn't expect. When you reduce the force, you can notice subtle differences better. This is important in movements and relationships.
4. Variation - When you introduce variation and playfulness in your life, it gives your brain more information to work with, more creativity, and more options. In her book, Anat points out that "mistakes" are just an opportunity for more variation. In my practice, I try to get people to try different movements that might be bothering them in a variety of ways.
5. Slow - This gets the brain's attention and allows us to learn new things. You can only do fast what you already know. If you want to change a motion that hurts you, slow it down!
6. Enthusiasm - If you reward the brain for the small positive changes it gives you, then it will give you more. If you are never happy with what you have accomplished... then why should the brain try harder? (or the other people around you for that matter.)
7. Flexible Goals - Know your goal, but have fun with the road there. If you are stuck with achieving a certain goal in a certain ridged way, it will increase your stress, and make it so you may not see another opportunity that comes along that may achieve your goals in a different way.
8. Imagination and Dreams - This is rich information for your brain to be able to create what was never there before. It gives you goals to work for, and helps you figure how to get there. You can even imagine motions before you do them so your brain can organize it before you do it.
9. Awareness - This is the awareness of being fully present in the moment, being aware of how you are feel, how you are moving, what you are doing, and what you are sensing. In our rushed and stressed lives, we are usually stressing about the past or the future, and not present in the now. Awareness brings us back to now and lets us be less stressed and more grateful.
Get the book here.
Anat has also created an online Desk Trainer that will walk you through how to incorporate these concepts into posture correction exercises you can do right at your desk. I think the little trainer is fantastic. I first learned the exercises from her book, but it is easier to watch the animation and do the exercise than try to do it from a description.
These are simple exercises that help you integrate the above concepts for vitality. If you focus and perform these exercises, it will increase your awareness of your body and will automatically start to change the way you move and your balance. As I have said in other parts of this website, good posture is about good balance... it is not static. You can't find one good position and say "There, now I have good posture."
No... posture is not static... we should not be static. As Anat Baniel says, "Movement is life."
So go check out some sample posture correction exercises and do them right now. See how you feel. I am willing to guess that you are going to be sitting a little taller and breathing a little freer =)