|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 282 ]
Good posture is the hallmark of good health. One who stands, sits and walks 'tall', also breaths and moves with optimal efficiency. Poor posture, however, remains one of the greatest afflictions today.
Posture can be affected by a number of things. Posture is significantly established throughout the growing years of childhood, and it is in the increasingly lazy attitudes, whereby children are allowed to slouch in their desks at school and slump for hours in front of the television or computer, where dreadful posture is being developed -- a condition that becomes difficult to remedy in adulthood.
Poor posture is maintained, and further enhanced by modern lifestyles which see many working in front of computers for hours on end every day, or paying little mind to sitting up straight within their own leisure activities. Stress, worry, anxiety, fear, depression—all of these are additional contributing factors towards the development and maintenance of poor posture.
Primary attention is put forth within yoga to combat this problem. To overcome poor posture requires an unwavering awareness. It is one thing to maintain a perfectly straight and tall spine for 15 minutes while sitting for a meditation exercise, but another to be aware of your hunched shoulders and swayed back while you are walking down the street in the afternoon.
In yoga we endeavour not just to perform proper movements and positions while we practice our hatha yoga exercises, but to create good habits to carry forward into every moment of our everyday lives. In our yoga practices we work on creating conscious awareness.
We learned in our early exploration of the sama sthiti asana, just what minimal amount of muscular effort it takes when one stands perfectly straight and tall in equal balance. So we must take these points of awareness into our daily lives and notice when we are slumped or when we are not standing or sitting straight, and when there is stress, strain and unnecessary muscle tension -- then take steps to immediately correct these things, to sit up straight, to stand tall, to draw the head and neck back in-line with the spine, etc. In doing so, we slowly re-establish patterns of behaviour which will eventually restore good posture and proper body mechanics at the unconscious level.
If we only have good posture for one hour a day during our hatha yoga session, and then poor posture for the next 23 hours, then we will never regain a naturally good posture. Pay attention to good posture and good posture will pay you back 1000-fold!
Walking is an excellent way to re-establish good posture. I mean a conscious, healthy walk outside, and preferably in nature where one can breathe and benefit from the freshness of the surrounding environment.
I do not mean a hasty shuffle down the halls of your office with your head stooped and your mind racing through matters of business or other concerns. Walk with your head up, chest forward and shoulders back, breathe deeply and move your arms and legs in unison getting the blood pumping throughout the whole body. Add a brisk walk of up to an hour if possible to your daily routine, and you'll feel the difference in no time...
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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