Posture doesn’t receive enough attention. Some years ago, I began to attend to my posture more consistently. I’m still not perfect, but I constantly work on it!
When I was in college, I was hit by a car. Unfortunately, the car won. I had a lingering back injury that forced me to pay attention to how I stand and sit. Later, when I began to explore various causes and solutions for my adult-onset asthma, I realized that my posture had a huge impact on how well I was able to breathe.
Today, I always pay attention to how people carry themselves when they are exercising. To my dismay, I see a lot of hunching and rounded backs when people are walking, jogging, or lifting weights. Not good!
Your posture is one of the master keys to abundant health and energy
Keeping an upright posture with good spinal alignment is key to avoiding injury, performing well, and getting reliable results from exercise. It also helps you feel more powerful and in control – not only when exercising, but in all areas of your life. And possessing an enhanced sense of power and control is something we can all appreciate.
The spinal cord is a critical communications channel. It’s not just a passive channel for transmitting information – it’s actively involved in transposing and making sense of the information and sensations coming in from our nervous system, as well as other sensory organs.
Your posture has a direct effect on your spine’s ability to conduct and intelligently monitor that information.
In addition, the way you hold your head directly impacts your brain’s ability to think. The poor habitual posture we may develop over the years leads to our head slumping forward. And when you lose this base postural support, you impede the flow of blood, lymph, and nerve impulses to and from your brain – resulting in brain fog, low energy, and even chronic headaches.
Posture in Qigong
When we practice our Qigong, we maintain a relaxed but upright posture. When standing, we create a gentle extension of the spine by turning our hips slightly forward and imagining the crown of our head is suspended by a string from the ceiling, and/or gently tucking our chin. This ensures the optimal alignment of spine / back, neck, and head, which not only facilitates the health of the spine, but also helps us maintain the standing posture for time because our frame and weight are aligned and supported.
When moving in Qigong, we typically maintain good posture and a straight line from lower back through torso through neck. With some movements, we perform subtle to more pronounced flexion and extension of the spine, which helps to stretch and strengthen the paravertebral structures supporting the spine as well as open the meridians associated with the spine. Energetically, spinal movements impact the Chong Mai or Thrusting Meridian, Du Mai or Governing Meridian, and Ren Mai or Conception Meridian. The Dai Mai or Belt Channel also gets some excellent work from many of the movements that exercise the spine.
As part of our preparation, we also perform loosening exercises which ensure articulation of the hips, spinal column, and neck.
Each one of these components is important in protecting, strengthening, and enhancing our spine and back and helping ensure the health of this critical communications and structural support component of the body. Not only does this help us move and feel better today…it also helps us stay younger.
As you go about your day, pay attention to your posture as you sit, stand, or walk. Leverage your Qigong to help reinforce specific postural elements and then see if you can carry these over to everyday activities.
And here’s a little secret: attending to your posture – not all the time, but just as a checking in type process – will help you become more mindful.