Almost all of us can improve our seated posture, especially when we are working at the computer. Beautiful posture can help you look slimmer, taller and more youthful. It can also help you feel more confident.
“Sit up straight!”
For most people, correcting posture typically involves two short steps.
The first step is to catch yourself slouching at your desk. The problem here is that this kind of awareness is sporadic. The way we sit is habitual and, when busy, we tend not to focus on our posture.
The second step is to snap ourselves to attention like a Drill Sergeant has just shouted at us. You might force yourself to stop slouching for — ooh… for about 10 seconds — before returning to your habitual ways.
Well, the good news is that, through developing better body awareness, you can dramatically improve the way you sit at your desk.
While many people imagine that it is tiring holding good posture all day, the opposite is true. If you build up a good, natural posture through awareness you actually feel a lot less tired at the end of the day. You will feel and look more confident and you might find your outlook on life becomes more positive.
Ready to get started? Let’s go!
1. Make friends with your sit bones. Sit comfortably on your chair and have your feet hip distance apart, with your feet flat on the floor. Check that your hips are just above your knees. You may need to adjust the height of your chair to achieve this.
This sitting position reduces compression in the hip joints as well as lower back and allows you to take some weight through your legs and into the floor. By having your feet in contact with the floor you are also providing yourself with energetic grounding and stability.
Now, bring your awareness to the part of your body that is in contact with the chair seat. Can you feel your sit bones?
To deepen your awareness, you can use your hands to feel them. Place a hand under each buttock and locate the region where the buttock and back of the thigh meet. Press in with your fingers until you feel a bony prominence on each side — these are your sit bones.
To sit tall these bones should bear most of your weight when you are seated. Can you feel each sit bone equally, or can you feel one side slightly more than the other?
Make small adjustments to the amount of weight through each foot, to adjust the weight you take through your sit bones. Experiment with the amount of pressure through each foot to adjust one side, and then the other. Are you sitting more evenly and solidly on your chair? Take a couple of breaths — slowly and deeply — to integrate this new awareness.
2. Sense your natural spinal curves. Now, bring your awareness to your lower back and become aware of the natural curve in your lower spine. Gently take your weight back — just a little — and allow you pelvis to roll so that you are sitting more on your tailbone.
Did you notice how your feet naturally lose their connection with the floor? Now, take your weight further onto the tailbone, by rolling through your pelvis. Can you feel yourself beginning to slouch and how the shoulders hunch forward, as you roll back? Explore this movement slowly —going backward and forward, becoming aware of the connection between rolling onto the tailbone and the slouching position. When you sit behind your sit bones your body has to compensate. Your chest and abdomen collapse in and your head has a tendency to stick out. Prolonged slouching will stress your body, especially your neck, shoulders and back. Notice also, how this posture flattens the curve in your lower back?
Now, come back to your sit bones, and feel the difference in the alignment of your spine. Again take a couple of breaths — slowly and deeply — allow this awareness to permeate deeply.
3. Integrate from toes to crown. Gently draw your pelvic floor muscles in and up as you activate your abdominal muscles. Ensure that you can still breathe deeply.
Very gently engage the muscles between your shoulder blades— to smoothly draw the shoulders back and help open the chest. Check that this muscle activation feels natural and relaxed, and not forced or military style.
Tuck the chin very slightly just so that you can feel a lengthening through the back of the neck. Soften your face and check that you have no tension in your jaw by consciously relaxing it.
Keeping this position, and with both feet gently, but firmly pushing into the floor, take your awareness to the very top of your head. Imagine length through your entire spine with your heart over your hips and your head over your heart.
Inhale and feel your whole body expand. Exhale, and allow any remaining tension to leave the body along with the breath — while maintaining your new shape.
How do you feel?
Close your eyes and take a couple of breaths to fully integrate this heightened body awareness into your consciousness. Movement and posture are habitual, and your body will initially ask you to return it to a more familiar position. With regular practice, sitting tall will become your new habit and you will observe the positive changes in your body and mind.