THE SECERT OF POSTURE AND FEELING HAPPIER
Written by our Pilates Instructor Morven Parfitt.
The most wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL, thing about Pilates is how fantastically applicable it is to everyday life. We all know that lovely feeling the body has after a great class...any tension or stiffness has been conditioned away, you're feeling loose limbed, standing tall and your energy levels and mood are lifted. Wouldn't it be grand if you could feel like that everyday of the week??!
A recent study on posture has shown how strong the mind/body connection is. After only 2-3 minutes of slumped sitting it was recorded that subjective energy levels and mood declined. The exact opposite was recorded when those taking part in the study were asked to move around the room with good posture. Moods lifted and subjects felt more energised. The type of posture the body was in has also been linked to the type of memories that are recalled. When sitting upright, almost all memories recollected were positive, happy ones, with the reverse being true for a more collapsed posture.
So, in these cold dark months, when you find yourself sitting for hours at a desk, at a steering wheel, or curled over your iPad, every now and then have a quick check on your posture and your mood. If you find yourself feeling subdued, think about slowly unfurling your spine. Start the movement at the pelvis and slowly stack each vertebrae one on top of the other, until you find yourself sitting a little taller, feeling a little lighter with your gaze away from your screen and towards the horizon. See if sitting in this posture for 2-3 minutes helps recall any happy memories, or if it helps elevate your mood.
If you've a little more time, then turn your attention to your shoulders. Many of us carry tension in our shoulders, and at the end of a tough day find ourselves with our shoulders up around our ears. Start gentle sliding your shoulders blades up and down, imaging the shoulder blades gliding over the rib cage, feeling the difference in your body when the shoulders are up as to when they have slid down your back.
If you've a little more privacy (or work colleagues in need of entertainment) then a bridge is a lovely exercise to add fluidity to the spine and improve your posture. Begin lying flay on your back, with those shoulder blades slid smoothly underneath you, and your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Take an inhale and imagine the spine lengthening. On the exhalation, curl up from your pelvis and slowly peel the spine off the mat. Aim to go as slowly and as smoothly as you can, until you've peeled off all the way up to the tops your lovely shoulder blades. Keeping your knees and the top of your head as far apart as possible, gently flow segmentally back down through the spine until you are back where you began. Have a brief pause, think how wonderful your body feels after that fabulous movement and decide to repeat the whole thing a couple more times!
As Joseph Pilates said….
"Never slouch as doing so compresses the lungs, overcrowds other vital organs, rounds the back and throws you off balance."
Although I think we will all agree, sometimes this is easier said than done!