We know that having a good posture betters your health dramatically. Working out correctly, stretching and massaging are activities that improve your posture by increasing blood flow to the muscles, fascia and joints. I would say, yet again, that it all comes down to movement. Movement is the initiator of life. It is the ultimate healer and creator. But let’s not deviate into the upper layers of thought for now, as this is not the purpose of this article. Let’s stay a bit closer to the ground😅.
The way you carry yourself says a lot about who you are. Minutely. After we are born we start playing and exploring the world around us. We create our posture little by little, by trial and error, squeezing things, responding to stimuli, hitting stuff and retracting, turning our head back all of a sudden, reaching out to touch something, responding with our body to emotions (such as curling up when something hurt us, or bringing shoulders and head down when we’re being told off). This emotional input is the biggest causator of our acquired postural habits. And it is ten times more effective than any physically induced postural habit.
If you walk arching your back or tucking your head down, it is probably related to not feeling deserving, feeling hurt, vulnerable, attacked, etc. and it immediately affects your breathing. If you have stiff hip and knee joints is probably because something could be holding you back. If you have your shoulders rolled down and forwards, arching your upper back, you are trying to protect yourself from fears or threats that aren’t really there. If you walk opening and sticking out your chest, you’re probably trying to “prove” that you are powerful when in truth you are weak and insecure, etc. And here comes the fancy stuff (which is the fact of knowing that things often work out better when you turn them upside down, inside out or the other way round😁) : You can certainly improve your breathing by improving your posture, but you can also improve your posture by working on improving your breathing. (I read somewhere that if you are sad you will slouch down, but you will also slouch down if you are sad, so same principle).
“You can improve your walking by first improving your breathing.” – Graciela R.P.
The quality of breathing, therefore the quality of movement and posture, are extremely important. To the point that quality breathing is in great deal a natural medicine. How? because through its techniques, it ultimately does the following:
- Provides lubrication to the joints, hence helping healing them.
- Relaxes you, optimizing natural body functions.
- Corrects spine deviations.
- Improves muscle toning.
- Oxygenates the blood, providing better aerobic response.
- Positively affects hormone functioning (hence influencing metabolic reactions of all kinds).
“Quality breathing is quality medicine.” – Graciela R.P.
So before you breathe, there is movement that triggers that breathing (the first movement of breathing occurs in the pelvic floor, as I wrote here). And the motion of breathing initiates every other move in your body, starting from something as inherently human and instinctive (for the preservation of life) as the process of walking.
Postural Breathing Exercises 1.
Here are some basic breathing exercises to develop a good walking posture. Be mindful of your position as described, at all times, at every single move you do, noticing any changes and correcting them on the spot:
- Lying on your back with your knees bent. Your lumbar spine should be neither arched nor flattened against the floor, aligned normally with a small gap between the floor and your back. Place your hands on the pelvic bones running down into your pubic area. Breathe in deeply and relax all of your stomach muscles. As you breathe out, draw your lower abdomen inwards, as if your belly button is going back towards the floor. Do this breathing in in 5 counts and exhaling in 10 counts, and repeat 10 times. It is absolutely vital that you perform this abdominal hollowing exercise correctly if you wish to recruit the muscles of the transverse abdominus and erector spinae effectively (primordial for posture alignment).
- Sitting on a chair, legs bent at 90°, flat feet on the floor, shoulders relaxed, lower back and shoulder blades against the back rest. Breathe in. Without moving your hip bones, extend the right leg tapping the heel on the floor, toes up, as you breathe out. Repeat on the left. Do it 10 times. Be aware of your lower back in touch with the back rest, specially as you breathe out.
- Same exercise but we’re adding arms. This time, as you bring the right heel forwards, lift the left arm forwards, shoulder height, palm facing in, fingers pointed. Repeat on the left, 10 times.
- Standing up, neutral position: knees unlocked, shoulders rolled back relaxed, chin parallel to the floor, pelvis slightly tucked in. Breathe in. As you breathe out, bring the right foot forwards, pointing and tapping the floor, minimizing the movement at the hip bones. Repeat on the left. Do this 10 times.
- Same exercise. Adding opposite arms. As you bring the right foot forward, lift the left arm at about 45°, palm facing down. Repeat on the left, 10 times.
- Walking forwards on a straight path, on a heel-to-toe motion on the step, be mindful of walking with a heel to toe motion on both feet, legs separate about hip width apart. Shoulders are relaxed and arms allowed to move naturally. Breathe in in 5 steps, hold the breath for 3 steps and release the air in 5 steps, making sure you do not lift your shoulders. Hold for 3 steps before you breathe in again. Do this for a few minutes until it comes natural and in a relaxed way, without forcing your breathing at all.
- Walking forwards, increase the inhalation and exhalation time to 10 steps, holding for 3 steps.
- Repeat the same exercise, walking backwards, with a toe-to-heel motion on the step, and breathing in and out in the same way, same counts.
The continuation of these exercises will be published on my next article. Stay tuned.