THE OTHER 23 HOURS: STAND TALL
Hopefully in your yoga classes, you are learning something about how to move and carry your body in healthier ways. Good teachers give specific alignment instructions to guide you into your best form.
Thing is, many students don’t realize that they’re also supposed to be applying those postural cues the rest of the day. That’s the whole point of my Everyday (and Every Night) Yoga video series, which will help you to type, drive, and sleep with minimal damage to your body. Honestly, I see people walking down the sidewalks of New York, jogging by the side of the road, or strolling down the beach in such scary bad form that I want to yell out, “Please, Stop! You’re wrecking your body!”
But since unsolicited commands from a stranger might not be too well received, I keep mum. I am happy though to share a few pointers to those of you primed to listen to me.
All will help you to preserve your physical frame for as long as humanly possible!
THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF STANDING
Through years of evolution, humans have never really adjusted to standing upright (remember, we humble creatures did start on all fours!). We balance by turning our feet in or out, we prop ourselves up on one hip and then the other, we round and slump and let our heads hang forward and down.
Remember, the body is fundamentally lazy. It will
let gravity win. You have to
to stand upright. Why should you bother? Because if you don’t, all of your weight settles into your joints, and you’re well on your way to knee surgery, hip replacements, lower back pain, frozen shoulders, tension headaches, and more.
So, learn to
- Get your bearings: stand up (yes, now!) and walk over to a wall that has no furniture or other obstructions. Stand with your back to the wall, your heels a few inches away from the wall, your feet parallel and just a couple of inches apart. Have all of the following touching the wall:
- Your buttocks
- As much of the back of your ribcage as possible
- The back of your head
- The backs of your shoulders
If this doesn’t feel like the way you usually stand, get used to it! This is where you belong.
- Now, lift and spread your toes and press down through the four corners of your feet evenly. Notice that the more you press down, the taller you get. This is a good thing—it takes much of the pressure off your joints. With your head further back, your horizon line will be higher. Adjust to your new line of vision.
- Put a book or yoga block on your head, and practice walking around the room keeping that lift and length.
- Repeat daily (or whenever you can) until this becomes habit. Note: it will never feel “natural” and yes it takes work. But hey, aren’t you worth it?