You’ve been hearing it since you were a little girl, “Sit up! Quit slouching!” But now that our bodies are getting, err more ‘settled’, it’s literally becoming a pain not to have better posture. Your posture can help you look and feel better, inside and outside of the studio, so let’s break down 4 quick tips, with checkpoints, for you to try during class, sitting at home or the office, and even sleeping!
1) Standing Posture Test: Stand up with your back against a door or wall. Your head, shoulders and seat should be touching the wall, but your heels should be roughly two inches in front of the wall. Now place one hand on your belly and press in, drawing your navel in tight towards your spine and feeling your tailbone stretch down. Holding it there, try sliding your other hand behind your back against the wall. It should feel like you can barely slide your hand through, only getting your fingers behind you. This is what we consider proper alignment, and a ‘tucked’ position at Neighborhood Barre. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and you want to think about a string lifting your upper body higher, while your tailbone (and core) is rooting you back down to the ground, keeping your lower back in line
2) Next you want to find (and maintain) your center by tuning into your head-to-toe alignment. This is particularly important when it comes to exercising, to protect your joints, and in the case of barre, target the proper muscle group. You want shoulders, hips, and heels stacked when standing. Think about keeping your chin level with the ground, your shoulders back, and your belly drawn in. It should feel like your body is being stretched apart, in opposite directions. This takes more practice with seat exercises, since you are typically working one side at a time and your body wants to put all your weight in the standing, or stabilizing side.
This principle holds true even when we’re on all 4’s, seated, or on your back in class! Think of your body as right angles, when the legs are bent. Your head, your neck, your back, through the seat, should all be aligned, in any of these positions. Make sure your knees, or feet stay hips-width apart so you keep your posture and your weight evenly distributed throughout your body.
3) Seated Posture test: Sit on the floor and put your hands under your sits bones with palms facing down. Adjust your position until you can feel your weight centered between both palms. (Again consider a string lifting your head up, chin level, shoulders back, abs tight!) When exercising, if you start to favor one hip over the other, it’s time to take an adjustment to realign your posture, and re-center your body weight. It should feel just like if you were sitting on your hands!
4) Lastly, your body needs sleep to recover, and the last thing you want is to potentially wake up with a sore neck or back, not from exercise, but from poor posture during sleep! If you sleep on your stomach (spoiler alert, the WORST position for posture), use a pillow under your belly, or lose the pillow under your head. If you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees. If you’re a side-sleeper, place a pillow between the knees and pull them in towards your chest. All of these options allow you to sleep in essentially a ‘NB tucked’ position, who knew? (Now try not to dream about barre!)