The Power of Positive Posture

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So – What’s the big deal about posture? And what does the mind have to do with it?

Lots.

Good posture is important for good health. And I am sure we’ll agree that health is indeed wealth. But besides physical health, your posture can also have a bearing on your emotional health.

I, like millions of people, spend a lot of time at the computer these days as my work requires it. Although I do spend a lot of time outdoors, I still have a problem sitting for hours. A few months ago I saw an infographic  that talked about how sitting kills, and started practicing standing for at least an hour or two every day while using the PC. And of course my Mom’s constant reminder about sitting straight  always rings in my ears.

If you, like me, tend to end up sitting slumped or slouched in your chair, you know how it feels. The unexplained aches and pains all have to do with bad posture. Now wait – it isn’t as though I actually have bad posture. But I find that sitting for hours makes me slouch without being aware of it.

Why maintain good posture?  

Here are seven good reasons to be conscious about posture:
Your brain works better
You breathe better
You concentrate and focus better
You look better
You feel more self-confident
You increase your self-esteem
You enjoy  better health
You look younger

Bad posture can be painful – in more ways than one. Besides earning nicknames that stick forever. We used to call a friend Sloucho Marx because he always slouched. I swear, to this day, we refer to him by this name. I am also guilty to admit that most of us have forgotten his real name.

Over a period of time, bad posture raises your risk of chronic backache, affects your blood circulation and worse still – puts you at risk for a slipped disc. This can be excruciatingly painful. It is also responsible for:

Low back pain
Frequent headaches
Shoulder and neck pain (oh I need a neck rub, someone!)
TMJ dysfunction
Change in breathing patterns
GERD (acid reflux)
Constipation
Risk of injury
Tissue wear and tear
Low oxygen and blood circulation to the brain
Muscle tension
Stiff joints
Inadequate lung function

Enough said. Let me such say that bad posture stresses your body out in a big way, gradually damaging muscles, ligaments and joints and makes life miserable.

Signs of bad posture

Good posture keeps your hips and pelvis level, your head up , your jaw relaxed, back straight, shoulders low, relaxed and even, relaxed abdomen, buttocks tucked in and knees gently flexed.  This happens naturally with most people. But for some, it does not. You can recognize bad posture when you see an abdomen and neck that stick out, knees that extend outward, uneven shoulders, a curved spine, a chest that appears sunk and uneven hips – you get the idea.

Right and wrong posture 
(Image courtesy tapestryliferesources.com)

Good posture – better than Botox

That’s true. Besides determining your bone health, good posture also keeps you looking younger over the years. Also, think of the money you’ll save by not having to go in for a facelift! Granted that people tend to stoop a bit as they age, but the good news is, you can prevent a permanently bent spine as a result of osteoporosis and damaging vertebrae in the upper and middle spine.

But let’s think positive, shall we? Without further monologue, here are ten things I’ve learned – that help maintain good posture and keep you standing tall – no matter how old you are:

Stretch
If you spend time at the computer, stay flexible by getting up for just a couple of minutes every half an hour and walk around, stretch or just stand. Remember to wear supportive footwear. I recommend rotating your shoulders, five anticlockwise and five clockwise movements. Sitting for hours at the computer is not attractive.

Exercise
Exercise helps you prevent injury and improve your balance while helping your posture. Twice a day, maybe once in the morning and once at night, lie flat on the floor. Then with arms stretched perpendicular body, slowly move them making snow angels. Do this for two or three minutes.  This will also improve your flexibility. You can feel good in ten minutes.

making a snow angel

Sit straight
You know, while always sitting straight may sound like a pain, it is easy when you’re conscious about it. You actually feel more comfortable that way. Also make sure you have good seating arrangements so that you sit properly at the computer.


Focus on your core
Core strength matters. A strong core, where you build the muscles of your abdomen and pelvis is critical because these are the muscles that actually help you maintain good posture. There are also other health benefits to strengthening your core.


Say Om sweet Om
Yoga   besides  being a great way to strengthen your core and muscles also helps increase your body awareness and maintain flexibility.


Support your spine
The muscles around the spine tend to weaken with age, particularly in women undergoing menopause or after menopause. (By the way, men also go through menopause. Exercises that target the back, neck, pelvic and side muscles will help. There are spine strengthening exercises that make it easier to stand for hours without developing a pain in the back.


Take up weight bearing exercises
This will help prevent that hump from forming on your upper back due to weaker bones as you grow older.  You can avoid this by walking, lifting weights and climbing stairs (oh, my knees!)

Get your vitamin D quota
When we’re talking about bone strength and posture, it is naturally important to talk about Vitamin D, which is critical to bone and muscle health. While most of us get Vitamin D from sunlight and our diet, some may need supplements.


Adopt a healthy diet
Get enough calcium and other vitamins and minerals in your diet. Make healthy eating personal.

Consult your doctor
You may need prescription medication if you have low bone density or osteoporosis.

Image courtesy: chiropracticall.com 

Posture – not just about physical health 

According to a recent study published in the January 2011 issue of Psychological Science about “posture expansiveness” (using one’s posture to open up the body and occupy space), posture activates a sense of power in the mind, making people feel and behave as if they are in charge.  The study found that posture is more important to a person’s sense of power than one’s actual job title or position.

So, while a high-power role can make you feel powerful, to act in charge, you need a high-power posture.

Good posture keeps you emotionally healthy and improves general fitness and performance. When you’re confident, you stand and “walk tall” When you’re sad or depressed, you tend to slump. When you slump, you develop aches, pains and become depressed. That vicious cycle need not happen to you when you practice good posture.

Here is how I energize my soul to make sure my body follows my mind.

  1. Boosting my confidence
  2. Fixing my energy leaks
  3. Nurturing my complete being 
  4. Using my intuition 
  5. Unleashing the power of my subconscious mind 
  6. Being bold by letting go of fear
  7. Trying to let go of my bad habits and finding my passion 
  8. Not worrying about business
  9. Practicing letting go to be happy. Miracles do happen all the time, you know.
  10. Making a  Gratitude List 
  11. Treasuring my present moment
  12. Holding on to the power of belief  
  13. Striving to make lasting changes in my Life
  14. Consciously trying not to complain
  15. Trying to inspire others
  16. I know I can make it happen

I have more than 300 reasons to be happy now. Take a look at my Happiness Project!

Now – I would love to know:

  • How do you inspire yourself?
  • How do you energize yourself?
  • What fuels your self-confidence?
  • How do you overcome fear?

I am eager to know your answers!

Vidya Sury

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Cheers!

Vidya

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36 Comments

  1. Kimberly

    January 31, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I preach the posture.
    I have a really messed up back. Even though it’s crooked and well, not straight at all…I still try to sit up as much as possible. It really helps!!

  2. Vidya Sury

    January 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Hey Kimberly – I’ve got a little buttowski of my own – a tailbone problem and have no choice but to sit straight. You’re right about the fact it helps! Hugs to you!

  3. Terri Sonoda

    January 31, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Fabulous post, Vidya!   And I concur with Kimberly.   Posture is something of which I have be constantly mindful, as I have a bad back and tend to slump.  I have to think about my posture as I walk.  Even with such a bad back as mine, walking straight actually helps the pain.  It doesn’t remove the pain, but helps somewhat.  Good informational post with a Vidya flavor.  Loved it!  Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  4. Angela|Powered by Intuition

    January 31, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Vidya,
    Thank you for this awesome post! Posture is indeed important – more important then I knew. Thank you for going into so much detail for us..
    And, for linking to Powered by Intuition too!

  5. The Bold Life

    January 31, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Vidya,
    I love the snow angels, I’m going to incorporate that, when it’s fun it’s easy;)

  6. My Inner Chick

    February 1, 2012 at 2:49 am

    –Vidya,
     You can write about anything and make it interesting.

    I try not to slump….and hate when I see people who do.

    I adore how ballet dancers stand, how they have such grace, how they turn their heads.

    This is what I think about when I think about Excellent “Posture.”

    Love Love Love
    Kiss Kiss Kiss.  X

    My Inner Chick http://myinnerchick.com

  7. Vidya Sury

    February 1, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Welcome, Tess! The snow angels are lovely, aren’t they? The phrase “snow angels” always brings the vision of happy children to my mind, which is an instant mood-upper. :-) Thank you!

  8. Vidya Sury

    February 1, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Dear Angela, it is my pleasure to acknowledge the wonderful connections in my life. Thank you so much!

  9. Vidya Sury

    February 1, 2012 at 7:09 am

    Dearest Terri! I love,love, love your comments. In fact, in the past few months after we met, in some way, I think I write better because of friends like you. You make me feel better about myself and i appreciate that so much! I am very conscious about sitting straighter today after writing this post :-) It means a lot to me that you like it! Hugs, dear friend!

  10. Vidya Sury

    February 1, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Dear Kim, You’re a fabulous writer and I admire you! You’re right about the posture of ballerinas! While I usually don’t suffer from bad posture, I definitely slump sometimes and have to keep reminding myself.  Hugs to you and thank you for your wonderful compliment!

  11. Lori Gosselin

    February 1, 2012 at 11:48 am

    This is a wealth of information Vidya! I found myself sitting straighter as I read! Thank you for this!
    Lori

  12. Cathy | Treatment Talk

    February 1, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Hi Vidya,

    Enjoyed your post on posture. I have struggled with good posture, but have also found that yoga has helped me a great deal. It’s one of those good habits we form in our youth, otherwise we need to stay conscious and work on sitting and standing straight. 

  13. Harleena Singh

    February 1, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Wonderful and informative post Vidya!

    Being a freelance writer myself, I can well relate and totally agree to everything you just mentioned!

    I guess leading a lifestyle where we are bound to our computers or laptops and have to keep sitting for long hours, having a correct posture is an absolute necessity. There are no two ways about the negative side effects a bad posture has that leads to more problems or ailments, most of which come up later in life, but then its already too late.

    We do need to start taking the precautions and follow the steps you mentioned above and need to constantly remind ourselves to sit straight. I know its easier said than done, but if you make your posture while working straight enough, half your problems are solved.

    Thanks for the wonderful reminder :)

  14. Vidya Sury

    February 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Welcome, Lori! Thank you for the kind comment. :-) I am loving your blog!

  15. Vidya Sury

    February 1, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Hi! Harleena, Thanks for your valuable input. Yes – being conscious is the starting point. I practice standing for an hour these days while working. That really helps. Also, I cannot sit for more than an hour at a time thanks to my tailbone problem.  My doorbell and phone take care of keeping me mobile :-) I enjoy walking and often pace while thinking :-)

    Glad you dropped by, Harleena! I appreciate your kind words. 

  16. Jt Clough | Big Island Dog

    February 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Yoga has helped me think about my posture more.  As I read this article it all makes sense.  As a lifelong athlete I find that many injuries come from bad posture or an uneven way to carry oneself.

    Mahalo for the encouragement and the awareness.

  17. Vidya Sury

    February 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Hi Jt! Yoga is wonderful.  As children, we were instructed to sit  in the Lotus pose after sunset and recite prayers every day. Even the elders (70s, 80’s 90’s :-)) always sat up straight.  I think that is one of the secrets for their healthy longevity.  I was amazed to read about the multiple health issues from bad posture. 

    Thank you for your comment!

  18. Vidya Sury

    February 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    You’re absolutely right, Cathy. You know, yoga is taught in schools here as a regular class with breathing exercises and specific moves. It is a great way to stay fit and flexible. Thank you for visiting :-)

  19. Sibylchavis

    February 2, 2012 at 1:49 am

    What a great article filled with such great information Vidya. I think this came to me at the perfect time. Posture is sooooo something I need to work on:) I love the list you shared of the way you energize your soul … really cool and all great advice.

  20. Betsy @ Zen Mama

    February 2, 2012 at 4:59 am

    Great post Vidya! I often don’t realize how I sit when I’m typing at the computer.  Often I’m sideways on my chair like I only sat down for a second and stayed too long.  I’m going to share this with my husband and kids! 
    Thanks!

  21. Vidya Sury

    February 2, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Thank you, Sibyl – glad you enjoyed it. Good posture guarantees good health in many ways!

  22. Vidya Sury

    February 2, 2012 at 5:35 am

    Thanks Betsy! I do exactly the same thing – sit as though I am about to get up and go.  The problem with slumping is it is involuntary and unless we are conscious, tough to correct. Vidur – starts off sitting absolutely straight. Then slowly, leans back, slides down, back curved, legs stretched out.  It takes time, but its worth it!

  23. Sheila

    February 3, 2012 at 12:06 am

    I have horrible posture now that I think about it.  Yikes!  Very informative, thank you!
    :)

  24. Paige | simple mindfulness

    February 3, 2012 at 12:16 am

    When I was much younger I was active in modeling which instilled in me habits to maintain good posture.  It definitely makes a difference!  Over the past decade I’ve maintained an active yoga practice which has made me keenly aware of my body and the many messages it delivers.  I’ve learned that almost all of my physical issues are actually emotional issues that my body is trying to get me to resolve.  As soon as I resolve the emotional issue, the physical issue “magically” disappears.

    Maintaining good posture is like your whole body wearing a smile.  It’s hard to feel bad when you do either.

    Thanks for so much great information Vidya!

  25. Vidya Sury

    February 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    :-) Consciousness does it every time, Sheila. Now am extra careful and sit in a chair that wont allow me to slump :D Happy you came by!

  26. Vidya Sury

    February 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    What a wonderful comment, Paige.  You are right about our emotional selves influencing the way we involuntarily carry ourselves. Back in school (I studied in a girls’ convent) we were always instructed to walk straight, and on an invisible straight line :-) I love how you said “Maintaining good posture is like your whole body wearing a smile” . That’s a fabulous way to express it. Thank you, Paige.  I look forward to having you here, more.

  27. Aileen

    February 4, 2012 at 6:28 am

     What an awesome post!”posture is more important to a person’s sense of power than one’s actual job title or position.”
    Absolutely! I used to have horrible posture, my shoulders slouched forward and I looked incredibly insecure. I certainly didn’t come across confident and I didn’t feel self assured. It was my passion for ballet that kept me reaching and lifting my body to create the line that ballet demands, that passion and dancing six days a week  gave me nearly perfect posture in about 3 years. 3 Years my seem like a long time, but I had thought my posture was stuck – I was already in my mid twenties at the time and it was a life long habit. I hadn’t imagined we could change our physical structure to such a degree.

    Like you say, there are many ways we can go about creating and maintain our posture and freeing our body. One way won’t work for everyone – but there is way for everyone to free their body and change their posture. You are so very, very right about all the benefits of good posture – there are so many!   & YES “Better than Botox”

    LOVED this post!!!!  Yes Yes yes!

  28. Vidya Sury

    February 4, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Thank you, Aileen! Big hugs to you! You know, I’ve experienced the difference between bad and good posture directly – I used to work as a sales manager. There was this time, several years ago, when my mom had an accident and we were waiting for the doctor’s prognosis. She convinced me it was okay for me to go attend an important client meeting and i went. 

    Well, obviously I didn’t sound as convincing as I should have – and the meeting wasn’t great. The reason was, because of my mental worry, I had let myself physically look worried and I did not exude confidence.  I remember coming back and telling my mom this. And she retorted, “I don’t blame your client. I’d have serious doubts  if i were talking to you, considering how you look right now”. Of course we had a good laugh over that. (Mom was not a word-mincer :-). 

    I realized that what I said was not the prob but the way my appearance came across to the client. I set that right quickly enough and the client also asked me what was worrying me the previous day. Bad posture can really take away the smile from our voice and overall bearing. When I became a sales trainer, posture was my favorite topic – I ‘d get pretty theatrical!I am so excited to know you’re a ballerina. Takes such a lot of control and stamina!Thank you for your valuable comment!

  29. Bryan Thompson

    February 5, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Hi Vidya! I love this post and it really struck me today just how often my posture affects my outlook on my day and even my day itself! And I love the peanuts strip!

  30. Vidya Sury

    February 5, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Welcome and thank you, Bryan! :-) It is a fact that our mood affects the way we present ourselves. Peanuts is one of my favorites!

  31. Caroline McGraw / A Wish Come Clear

    August 8, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Thank you so much for the link-up, Vidya – one of my favorite posts, too. ;) Thanks for the encouragement to focus on posture – it’s an important reminder for every day!

    • Vidya Sury

      August 9, 2012 at 4:01 am

      Hi Caroline! :-) So good to see you. Have a fabulous day!

  32. Dave

    May 7, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Hi there,
    I am a chiropractor in Toronto. I was google searching cartoons on posture and depression and I really like the Peanuts cartoon that you used. Did you get copyright permission, and if so, how did you do it? I would like to use it in a flyer for a class.
    Thanks

    • Vidya Sury

      May 7, 2013 at 10:53 pm

      Hi Dave!

      Thanks for visiting. I am told that cartoons that have the copyright printed on them (see the vertical strip on the right border) is good enough. Not sure if that is enough for printing on a flyer. Thought – i must say that the cartoon is all over the web! :D

      I was in Toronto for three weeks and just got back – on May 2. Lovely place!

      Cheers!

      Vidya
      Vidya Sury recently posted…Laughter Is The Best Medicine – World Laughter DayMy Profile

  33. stacy

    September 25, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Yes posture is very important. I developed a lot of shoulder problems and lower neck mostly due to depression and posture.

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