WATCH YOUR POSTURE
We’ve all had someone, mom, dad, ballet instructor, tell us, “Stand up straight!” But have you ever wondered WHY it is important? Good posture is actually more important than just looking good by standing up straight. For one thing, you immediately look about ten pounds lighter. And while slouching seems to “feel” good, it puts a lot more stress on our muscles, tendons, bones, and internal organs. By slouching or hunching one of the first problems we experience is reduced respiration. Sure, you can still breathe enough to stay alive, but by slouching, we compress our lung area making it impossible to take deep inhalations, to properly inflate our lungs all the way to the very bottom of the organs. This causes symptoms of fear and stress because we become used to a very shallow breathing habit that usually only happens when we are faced with a “fight or flight” response. By slouching, we are training our bodies to breathe in a stressed manner, which in turn raises our normal cortisol levels.
Increased cortisol is a sign of a stressed body. Increased cortisol leads to increased belly fat deposits, increased blood pressure, and increased heart rate. We have enough stress in our lives as it is without adding to it by something as easy to fix as standing or sitting up straight.
If you’ve never experienced true lung expansion, try attending a yin/nidra yoga class where they teach you how to focus on deep breathing. Once you notice how good it feels to fully expand your lungs, you will never forget that feeling of almost euphoria that follows. In yoga, controlled breathing is called pranayama, which literally means “control of the life force.” You can influence not only your everyday stress reaction, but you can also impact diseases such as asthma, chronic pulmonary diseases, even heart failure.
Do you stand or sit up straight? An easy test is to back up against a wall to see if your shoulders and back touch the wall. if only parts of your spine touch the wall, you need to focus on slowly straightening your spine until your shoulders drop and slide back. At first, this may seem very uncomfortable. That’s because we’ve spent so many years in a perpetual slouch. This is especially true for people who work in offices. Sitting at a desk for hours has predisposed people to an earlier death, unless they consciously sit up straight, breathe from the bottom of their lungs, and get up and walk around periodically.
It would seem that Mom was right after all, wasn’t she?