Many clients confess to me that they have horrible posture. When I ask them to show me how they think their posture should be, they usually assume an awkward and stiff position. Perhaps it is from the words we heard at least once in our lives, “stand up straight!” Although there may be more useful ways to sit or stand there really isn’t a correct posture. Your posture is influenced by many factors including your environment, your structure, your body awareness, habits, mood, and even what you wear. Because it’s not as simple as saying, “you should sit and stand like this,” I’ll discuss the elements that make up better posture.

Elements of Better Posture

Better Posture Is Dynamic
Better posture is about organizing your body in a way that allows for constant micro-movements. The cue “stand up straight” creates an overly rigid position. Think of young children. They usually have an effortless and dynamic sense to their posture, ready to move at any moment.  Rather than becoming statuesque, check to see if you can easily turn your head side to side and up and down. If your neck is locked, try arranging yourself so that your head and neck feel free. Another good way to check is with your breath.  If your breath feels tight or restricted, chances are your posture isn’t serving you well.

Better Posture Feels Good
Sounds obvious, but sometimes we forget that good posture actually feels good. If you are feeling uncomfortable, it’s probably a signal from your body to shift positions. Posture can also affect how you feel and how others perceive you. So if you’re feeling a bit down or perhaps timid before an interview you should change your posture to give you more ease and confidence.  Feel your feet on the ground, envision your spine lengthening, and sense an openness across your chest.  Breathe and maybe even add a smile.

Better Posture Is Adaptable
The way you sit in an airplane seat is going to be different from how you sit at a dinner party or on the floor. Having the ability to adapt to your environment and different situations is an important skill. Many times though we get stuck in certain patterns, which can create excessive tension and even strain. No matter how good your posture is it’s important to mix things up. If you always sitting in a chair, try sitting on the floor. If you always sit cross legged, try kneeling.  The more choices your body has the less likely you are to experience pain/distress when thrown into a new or uncomfortable situation.

Good posture isn’t about holding a rigid, uncomfortable shape. It’s about listening to your body and responding to it in each moment.