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
Being aware of the quality in the way we move is reflected in the way we feel.
Being total transparent to all those way of abusing my body by pushing it get a certain level of fitness if I dropped the level of high intensity then my fitness also dropped but now with simple apply myself without drive or push my body feels amazing ? as you have shared Anne.
Using our breath as a marker to see if our body is responding to how we are exercising, so that our breathing is at-least gently, then we can feel our body and this approach gives a remarkable results and when done regularly for at-least 40 minutes twice a week our vitality goes through the roof.
Anne this is great to read because post exercise muscle soreness can put me off exercising. I’ve also been more aware of my posture, I noticed today at work how much it changed how I felt in myself by taking care of how I was sitting and elongating my spine.
Yes, it is such a small thing to do, it doesn’t need to be noticed by anyone, but the ripple effect on our body and our movements from that moment forward is palpable.
I changed my posture so many times as I read your blog! We don’t necessarily notice how we are sitting or standing till we bring attention to it. What is extraordinary is how changing the movements changes the thoughts… now there is a research study waiting to be done!
How aware are we when we move and exercise, bringing in more awareness to our movements is essential in supporting ourselves at a deeper level, ‘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.’
It is amazing what a difference our movements make – even a tiny adjustment whilst sitting at the desk can make a huge difference. It is very liberating to take the time to explore how to work with our body to support ourselves and each other (because how we move not only affect us but others too).
Bringing our focus to how we move is a wise choice, ‘ 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.’
The quality in which we move makes the world of difference. Just bringing awareness to this throughout the day lets us correct ourselves if we have dropped. We can also deepen this quality – there is no end point, it would seem.
The quality in which we move is super important, so this is a great choice, ‘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’.
Our posture is so key to how we move throughout the day and how we hold ourselves. I know for myself the moment I see myself slouching or misaligned I know something is not quite right and so have a marker to look at and come back to. Otherwise as a great snoopy cartoon refers to we can essentially walk ourselves into depression… and so to add to it we can always walk ourselves out of depression.
When we walk or move distracted by music or a phone we are unaware of how this impacts the free flow of movement throughout our body.
It is fascinating Mary how much people walk plugged into music, or run with headphones on almost completely unaware of their surroundings off in their own world. What we do not think of so much though is how we generally change the way we move to fit into the beat, so the question comes where does the beat come from? and who sets it? and is it truly in line with what our body needs or are we adapting to it?
The ‘no pain no gain’ mentality is so capping us when you truly think about it. Like you shared: “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).” We feel good about feeling the tension as it makes us feel like we have exercised well! But truly is that what is supporting our body? If we cycle so long that our body hurts is this truly doing something good? In my books exercise is about making my body fluid and flowing, strong and prepared for what I need to do in the day without being achy, tensed etc.
Yes it is very nourishing when we tap into that quality and not only supports us but others too 🙂
Anne, this is interesting to read; ‘Observe my feet, e.g. am I limping or rolling my feet out or in?’ I have been noticing lately that my feet can be rolled in and tense when I am in conversation with people and so when I notice this I correct my position and relax my feet and stop tensing them, it feels great to be checking in with the body in this way.
It feels like a beautiful investment in yourself to take the time to feel into your posture and how it can best support you whist exercising. For many years I would drive myself to finish a set amount of exercise whilst ignoring my body trying to communicate that it was tired or painful in a particular area which led to ongoing lower back pain and other issues. It was only when I started exercising to support myself rather than because it was ‘good’ for me that I appreciated the difference and how much it improved my vitality and enjoyment of life generally.
A great blog for me to read today Anne, thank you for sharing, I will be going for a walk later and starting a new exercise regime, your tips will be very helpful for me to be tender with my body and be more present to be able to feel a whole lot more of me.
This blog reminded me of a book I read on a new biomechanical approach to marathon running years ago, and one that I dutifully adopted into my running style and posture with the result being increased efficiency, lower impact on all my joints, and much less soreness or incidence of injuries. But what kind of intelligence uses a new approach to participating in an activity (like marathons and triathlons) that actually are harming to the human body and put it through un-godly amounts of pain and suffering?
It’s crazy how we can use ‘science’ to encourage us to abuse our bodies.
Yes new and improved scientifically validated ways to harm yourself.
Our posture is a movement and when we bring focus to how we hold ourselves we can feel whether we are aligned to our Divinity, to who we are, our truth or if we are resisting it. It is amazing to feel how we can change in a moment a trajectory we are on or a momentum we are in by simply adjusting our bodies to allow ourselves to be moved by a quality that is who we are, the vibration of love, which feels far more freer and honoring.
It always amazes me how much my posture effects my mood so directly. When I catch myself slouching and then straighten up my spine, many times i feel like my thoughts instantly change and I feel more expansive, light and clear-headed. Maybe all those teachers and parents were onto something after all!
‘Stillness in motion’ As we move while walking, swimming or exercising to develop strength and balance our own body is own Personal Trainer to show us how to maintain a flow in all our movements.
‘Stillness in motion” such a beautiful phrase and one that just by reading it I find my body changing from the inside slowly reconfiguring to allow more space and grace.
Posture across the board supports the natural flow of keeping the whole body in homeostasis. If we are aware of it with how we sit and walk this is a great start.
This sounds a good plan, to be aware of our quality of being and bringing that into whatever we do, ‘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.’
“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.” I love taking time to exercise and also feeling how my body wants to move and particularly my posture. Not only does my body feel more relaxed but also very light and playful. Exercise always used to be such a chore but now I take it at my own pace and feel how my body wants to move in each movement made. Simply awesome thank you Anne.
Anne, this is a great point; ‘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’. It seems quite common for us to be listening to music while exercising and yet it makes sense that this would take our focus away from our bodies and our bodies subtle messages. It would be interesting to know if more injuries occurred while people were listening to music while exercising.
Beautiful look at the detail of our movements. We miss out on the true benefits of movement and exercise when we do not make space to observe the quality.
I love when you read something on posture it brings more of your awareness to this and you start to reconfigure your body to find what is more supportive.
It is such a wonderful and ongoing feeling to be reconnecting with our bodies… the learning will be endless.
” Recently on my walk I was very aware of how people were walking and running and I began to notice their posture and style. ” It is quite astonishing how terrible people are treating their body in the belief it will keep them healthy. Pushing the body to do anything is a receipt for injury.
Posture is essential to support the quality of alignment of our body in all that we do, and this is a great blog reminding us of this fact Anne.
Just bringing my focus to my posture allows for a dropping away of the tension that naturally does not belong there and which reflects what I have taken on in life or how I have hardened against life.
I have become more aware recently of the importance to exercise to the rhythm of my body and therefore in sync with the universe laying the foundation for a much greater expansion to unfold in my body.
As you have beautifully shared Anne, when we bring our awareness to the quality of being in our bodies we then can bring our presence to exercise, and in any moment with whatever we do. Deepening our connection to this quality within is what allows us to move and hold our selves guided by a way that is true, loving and in honor of the body and being.
“Simply being aware of our posture and style” this makes so much sense just bringing it back to the simplicity of our posture and our style of movement brings us back to our body and allows the space within the body.
Exercising with presence and awareness, as you say Anne, makes a huge difference to the way we feel during and after; the whole experience becomes joyful and fun whilst freeing and expanding our bodies;
“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”.
Exercising in a gentle way is an exquisite experience that allows me to be in intimacy with myself while taking care of my body. By surrendering to my breath first, I’m much more aware and this helps me to deepen and observe the impact of each movement. Being present in my body all the time is what makes sense of exercising.
I love tuning into my posture as I walk… You can effect such energetic changes with such small shifts… It is like something that you can fine tune all the time… Just like our expression ☺
Chris I know what you mean, when I bring focus to my posture and walk, straight away I feel shifts in my body and as I walk I feel sparks from my feet. How so simply coming back to our conscious presence can make such a quick change.
When in connection to my body every movement becomes enjoyable. I have felt absolutely amazing when I stand tall, heart and hips open and shoulders down and relaxed. It’s so yummy to stand in this way. Coming back to this blog has provided a lightbulb moment for me in appreciating how I feel when I move in this way, how simple it is and breaking away from the belief that anything outside of me can stop me moving in this way. So now I ask, if it feels so amazing- why stop?
I thought of your blog today Anne when I was slouching and feeling not 100%. When I remembered I straighten my posture and just like that I felt different.
There is such power in our movements and one day psychology will be based on it.
For me breathing through the nose all the time has made a huge difference to me, especially in swimming where, at school, we were always told to breathe through the mouth. Now if I were to do that it would feel very harsh and unnatural. It’s lovely to feel how my level of fear and anxiousness has dropped since I have been breathing through my nose and there is a general feeling of settlement in my body, especially as I feel how my breathing has become more gentle too.
It is super important to notice the difference between observations and judgements, because essentially there is never truly ever anything wrong with any of us, we are all just learning.
Years ago I used to push and drive my body during exercise constantly running on the adrenalin and looking forward to that buzz and feel goodness at the end of my session. This kept me doing aerobics 4 to 5 times a week and becoming annoyed if I had to miss a session. Now when I do exercise it is totally different and there is so much enjoyment in moving with my body and feeling how certain movements benefit or are straining on my body, and I choose to do it in my own rhythm and not from a gym instructor.
Thank you Anne I really enjoyed your sharing, reminding me to always feel how my body is feeling within before starting any exercise.
I have abused my body so much in the past while exercising that it is taking some time to feel completely at ease with my body while I exercise. I have stopped and started and now feel to deepen my relationship with exercise as I enrol in an online program ‘Stillness in Movement’ in a couple of weeks. I can feel something has shifted already as I prepare myself for the coming weeks.
Allowing my body to guide me is letting go of control and exercising is a great way to connect with my body and to feel how my body just knows how to move and is impulsing me instead of my mind thinking that it knows best.
Me too Fiona, if I sit slouched I notice how I feel as if I have no energy to do things, or I feel sort of weak and not really present. When I move myself from that into a good posture, everything changes, my voice, how I feel and my energy levels too.
“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 is so true – I also noticed what a difference it makes if I pay attention to what my body communicates while exercising and when there are twinges or discomfort to check in and adjust accordingly. It makes exercising and walking so much more joyful.
Reading this brings to my attention the detail that our bodies is made up of, and how easily we forget or take for granted what is there to be observed and also acknowledged. I’m aware of my posture and my movements a lot of the time, but I also find it easy to override, particuarly when I’m tired. I slouch, lean on one side and move in a heavy and cumbersome way. This actually just makes us even more tired as we drag ourselves around. Being consistent in our awareness of our bodies, even when we’re tired really helps us to make choices that will support us in knowing what to do next.
Starting with the quality of my breath is always now where I begin the exercise because from there what my body can and cannot do is very clearly felt.
Great reminder Shami, thank you – although I feel pretty present these days with my exercises, this very important part does occasionally slip away … and what a difference it makes when I remember and start all with my awareness of the quality of my breath.
Even just the application of breathing through the nose when exercising has transformed it for me. Now exercise not only supports my body, but also it brings me a greater sense of me in my body. That is priceless.
Staying aware and with our body is especially important when exercising; I notice many a distorted face when I go the gym as others push through in the pursuit of more repetitions, heavier weights, more muscles, better tone. I wonder at what price and whether the results actually last, seeing the body has been compromised. Or maybe we just don’t put two and two together?
Our every posture counts – both in motion and in rest.
Adjusting our posture constantly is important to enable a harmonious flow of energy throughout.
What is really interesting as well is how posture can affect the way we are thinking and our attitude in general… there is so much here that we can learn.
And also how we are feeling about ourselves and how we present our selves too…
Exercising without pushing through is such a joyful thing to do and it gives you the space to really connect with your body; your breath, your muscles, your own rhythm . For me it is a challenge to stay in this connection when I am walking or exercising with someone else, to stay present and not get caught by the conversation or the pace of the other but to seek what fits my body.
I know this feeling when I move effortlessly – and while its a well used phrase it does feel like a well oiled machine, everything moving seamlessly, no clunky jolts. There are two reasons I know this feeling well… 1) is I know the opposite feeling.. where I’m uptight, knocking into things, a little ragged, and 2) over the years, through Universal Medicine, I’ve really learnt to value and observe how my body is feeling. I’m still learning how important this emphasis on movement is to everything we do.
So many great pointers Anne, to really connect with your body before you start to exercise was something that jumped out for me. I know that I can just jump straight into exercise without much thought and the result is to feel quite disconnected and the session just feeling per functionary, not truly getting the benefits from the experience. So really loved reading your blog.
Our body takes on the posture of the energy we are holding in it, exercising gently has been one of the best ways for me to feel what is supportive for the body and what is not.
I love your comment Harrison – “Our body takes on the posture of the energy we are holding in it…” This is an awesome statement and with true awareness we can totally feel what we have aligned with.
Coming back to basics is key. As our body is the foundation in our life. So should we treat it: As number One. Then when we have done that we will choose accordingly not at the expense of the body. Hence we seemingly are living the wrong intelligence, or it can be refered to irresponsible living (simply unhealthy way as it is not in regard of our body), simple.
Working out for me used to be a combination of good form, heavy weights and a need to get bigger/stronger. Only recently, having done some gentle exercise work, have I started to exercise in a more loving way – and it’s so much more supportive. I don’t have that need (I love who I am and how I look) and I don’t wake up stiff and sore the following day.
Yes, the more we are at ease in our bodies the less we have to sculpt them for the approval of another.
A beautiful reminder to be aware of and listen to our bodies whilst exercising, thank you Anne.
All exercise is movement and all movement effects our body and how we feel. The difference between when we slouch in a chair and when we sit up with awareness of our posture is enormous.
Hear hear – exactly so – truly enormous and very obvious to feel, for us as well as those around us.
As soon as I start to feel tired while driving or sitting at my desk I bring awareness to posture, straighten my back, and it makes a such a difference. There is really so much in this.
Well said, that is exactly right and the difference is huge, as I can attest to as well
‘….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 centered and quite still?’
This is a powerful statement Anne, because as I see it, if we are in a negative state on the inside, then we will bring that to how we move and treat our body, which only will reflect our inner state…all these physical postures such as tight shoulders is our body showing us our inner condition. So if that changes then our external movements change. If we push ourselves in exercise, it is also likely that we push ourselves in life. How we exercise and our posture is a mirror to how we live and our inner condition. Posture and exercise do not change our inner condition but our inner condition changes the way we exercise and our posture. Awareness and connection is the key as you so beautifully expressed.
A timely reminder for me to get back to your blog Anne, and what I needed to see this time was: “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.” It feels that lately I have not been fully focused how I was feeling before I started exercising and have pushed a bit too much – result is my body has let me know it did not feel loved and now I am nurturing a pretty sore arm back to feeling loved and cherished …
It is great to be aware of our bodies whilst exercising because we are doing it mostly to strengthen and support our bodies, in other words for our bodies. So checking out from our bodies during exercise is actually rather strange but something that is actually thought and promoted everywhere with the possibility to watch tv when doing our gym exercises or being taken by the often loud music that is playing… So thank you Anne for this article.
Yes and these things are not the only things that further checking out, even if we don’t listen and don’t watch and just go as we are, lost in ones thoughts and mulling over things while exercising are also ways of not being present to what we are doing with our body …
Posture indeed says a lot. I am starting to see my posture has also been formed by energies that are actually harming for my body making my body get stuck in a not loving, closed, hard way. Almost like it is my body. But I know it is not me. Then it takes a quite of work (messages, healings etc) to get that stuck energy out of my body.
I love these simple tips Anne, I believe the future of exercise is going to be bringing heightened awareness to every move we make and not allow any compromise in our health when we move. Exercise done with true care for self will encompass wellbeing, something I don’t believe occurs at the moment while the ”no pain no gain” mentality is still foremost. To exercise and at the end of it feel invigorated through gentle movement that relates always to practicing our own awareness of our body moving easily in space is a way of exercising I have come to love. To feel the legs and feet as I exercise the arms and vice versa, to feel the breath, make a workout far less stressful and something I have now found transforms what exercise really is.
I love the way my body feels whenever I exercise in connection with my body, having awareness of my posture, breath and movement create a flow that is super supportive for my health and harmony within.