three diagrams of a man sitting on a chair, the first 2 are bad posture the last is goog posture

Improving Posture

Have you ever tried to improve your posture? How well did that work for you? If you are not satisfied with the results, consider attending Feldenkrais classes. The Feldenkrais Method can help you achieve comfortable and effortless posture through ingenious and mindful movement exercises.

The changes become integrated into your every-day life. Soon you will find yourself sitting, standing and moving in ways that you never imagined could be so easy or comfortable.

Body Scan Exercise in Sitting

Sit on a firm chair with your feet flat on the floor. Come forward in the chair a bit so you are not using the back rest. Sit normally and close your eyes for a few moments. Notice your posture. Stay there for a minute or two just observing yourself. Then open your eyes again.

When you observed your posture, what is the first thing that came into your awareness? What parts of the body did you sense? Perhaps you thought about whether you were sitting or standing up straight? You might have become aware or your head, neck and back. Perhaps you sensed your spine and checked its alignment. Maybe you tried to correct yourself. These are things many of us were taught to do growing up.

Consider that parts of your body that may not have been included in your awareness. Your hands and feet? Your chest and rib cage? Was your abdomen free to move with the breath? How long could you sustain this posture comfortably

3 minutes to Better Posture

Now try this short exercise with Ruthy Alon. Then go back to the sitting body scan above and feel the difference.

About Ruthy Alon

Ruthy is an international Feldenkrais trainer who studied and taught with Moshe Feldenkrais for over 20 years. It is hard to believe that in this video she is 85 years old. Ruthy is still teaching, a huge inspiration for those of us interested in healthy ageing.

4 Reasons why trying harder to sit or stand up straight doesn’t work

1. When we try to straighten the spine we often increase effort in the muscles of the back without releasing the flexor muscles in the front of the body. The result is one muscle group working against another. This causes spinal compression.

2. Some of us work so hard in our back muscles to maintain good posture that we end up bowed backwards, thinking that we are actually straight. This ‘military’ style of posture can lead us to be stiff and stuck in our movements. People who do this are usually unaware of it.

3. A common frustration in trying to improve posture is that the changes only work while you are consciously paying attention. As soon as you stop doing that, you slip back into old habits.

4. Yet another problem with this method is that the effort to straighten can result in restriction of the breathing.

4 Ways that Feldenkrais helps improve posture

1. Focusing on dynamic, not static posture

Moshe Feldenkrais described good posture as ‘the ability to move equally easily in all directions’. This is dynamic posture. By contrast, static posture may involve trying to hold yourself still when you are sitting or standing. This may cause breath holding. It’s also literally impossible be completely still. We actually maintain our balance in upright positions by using subtle swaying movements.

2. Reducing effort

As you learn where to let go of unnecessary effort, you will discover how to find more efficient support from your muscles and bones. Learning to move easily in and out of a particular position is just as important as maintaining good alignment.

3. Learning first while lying down

To learn a new way of supporting the body against gravity Moshe Feldenkrais first taught a variety of movement lessons lying down. The reason is that lying down makes it easier to reduce muscular effort. This helps you sense what you are doing more clearly so you can make small adjustments towards greater efficiency. It means you are less likely to fall into inefficient habitual patterns and postures.

4. Expanding the self-image

In the Feldenkrais Method you will learn to bring your attention to each part of the body that is involved in an action. You will learn how even seemingly unrelated parts of the body such as your hands, feet, eyes, ribs and hip joints can influence your posture. The more parts of your body that can be included in your self-image, the more clearly you will know what you are doing. In the words of Moshe Feldenkrais ‘When you know what you’re doing you can do what you want’.

“When you know what you’re doing you can do what you want” – Moshe Feldenkrais.