Recently on my walk I was very aware of how people were walking and running and I began to notice their posture and style. I am used to looking at people’s posture as I have been teaching yoga and general exercise for many years, but I had not until that day realised how unsupportive many people’s running/walking posture and style actually is. I felt into how I was walking that morning – effortlessly, lightly and joyfully. I felt like the seagulls I had observed earlier, sitting on the sea, and then gliding along the sea effortlessly – almost like stillness in motion.
Do we ever observe our posture or style whilst running, walking or exercising generally?
We each have a unique walking, running, and exercising posture and style, some of which support us and some that can be harmful to our bodies. For example:
- Leaning over to the left or right, so that one side of the body (head, neck, shoulder and hip) is lower than the other side, and therefore contracted
- Leaning forwards or backwards, which strains the lower back (at least)
- Lifting the shoulders up and/or rolling the shoulders in, which puts pressure on the trapezius muscles, shoulders, neck and breathing
- Having more weight on one leg and hip, which leads to muscle imbalance
- Limping, or rolling one foot in or out
- Chin poking forward or jaw tight
- Tight hips and/or knees rolling in
- A heavy heel strike or a flat foot.
Such postures and styles can feel extremely uncomfortable, bringing tension to the body, and may even lead to chronic pain or injury.
Perhaps we do not notice we are doing these things, especially when we are distracted such as when we are listening to music, talking on our phones or talking animatedly to someone; or perhaps we do notice but push on, regardless of how our posture, style or behaviour may be affecting our body – regardless perhaps, even of pain!
I used to exercise without regard to my body – to my posture, my style, or how my body was feeling… I was aware of the pain sometimes, and cramping – such as towards the end of a 100km bike ride – but I ignored the pain and pushed on.
So is it possible to start to correct poor posture, style or behaviour whilst exercising?
When I commenced studying with Universal Medicine, I started to bring more awareness to my body and to the quality of my movement, and I began connecting to how I felt on the inside, before I moved. Was I feeling tense or anxious, rushing around, with my mind all over the place, or was I feeling a deep connection such that I felt centred and quite still?
By bringing my focus to the quality of being in my body before I started to exercise, and by developing that relationship first, I was then able to take that connection and focus into the exercise. Therefore I knew if and when my posture, style and behaviour whilst exercising were supporting or harming my body. This awareness enabled me to make choices that were more supportive.
For example, I now:
- Ensure I breathe through my nose (when I start to breathe through my mouth whilst exercising, I know I need to stop or slow down whatever I am doing)
- Walk instead of run, to protect my knees, shins and ankles
- Observe my feet, e.g. am I limping or rolling my feet out or in?
- Release any tension I feel in my body – for me this usually means I consciously drop my shoulders and unclench my jaw
- Open my pelvis
- Have an elongated posture, by drawing the crown of my head away from my feet
- Have a neutral neck (with my chin under my nose, rather than sticking out or up)
- Lift and open my chest
- Have equal weight through my feet.
How different my body feels now whilst exercising, and afterwards! I no longer get a build-up of lactic acid in my muscles, so they recover well from the exercise because I observe my posture and style and let my body guide me as to when I have exercised enough. I do not get cramps whilst exercising (from over-exertion). My body no longer aches from over-exercising or from exercising in a way that is not supportive. For example, I don’t have tension in my lower back or neck from exercise (I used to get this tension a lot, especially when long-distance cycling, hunched up over the handlebars for long periods).
Simply being aware of our posture and style whilst exercising, and allowing our body to guide us, can make a huge difference to how we feel and how we enjoy exercising.
This article is inspired by the magic of God, the teachings of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine, and by Kate Greenaway, an Esoteric Healing practitioner and physiotherapist.
By Anne Scott, Accredited Yoga Teacher, Fitness Instructor, Mediator and Esoteric Healing Practitioner, Auckland, New Zealand
Your body tells the truth
Exercise – it doesn’t need to be hard work
Exercise for Health and Connection – from an Exercise Physiologist
My Turnaround from Competitive Running to Connection with Me