Balance Ideal Tai Chi.com

Improve Your Posture With Positive Flow & Relaxation

by Sheila D. Bell

Regional Organizer Clear Tai Chi Costa Rica & Director of Balance Ideal Tai Chi

Turns out Mom was right, good posture does matter!
…but maybe not the way you were told as a kid. For example, did you receive military instruction for posture: ramrod straight, shoulders back, suck in the gut, chest up, to encourage discipline, intimidation, and uniformity? Or in ballet class where the body is lifting upward to achieve line, grace, and height? It is often possible to identify the disciplines a person practices based on their posture and movement patterns. Regardless of the esthetics or function they wish to achieve, it may possible for outsiders to notice some degree of over- or under- development, even if they don’t see it that way.
I grew up at the pool, in the dance studio, and on the soccer field. At the pool it was normal to see barrel chested and broad shouldered athletes slicing through the water with their arms. In the dance studio strong, elastic thighs were the powerhouse of movement for slim and outwardly rotated limbs. On the soccer field, agility and speed were the most admired, leading to lower stances and quick eye/hand coordination. All these athletes were in great shape and had good posture. However, standing side by side, they were quite different. Which is the ideal posture for a balanced, healthy human body?
Turns out that there are certain important functions within the body which are affected by posture. Knowing and training these aspects can improve your overall health and longevity, as well as positively influencing your performance in any discipline you may practice. These functions have to do with positive flow (air, blood, lymph, digestion, nerve impulses, thoughts, energy) and relaxation (proper alignment respecting our anatomy, ample space for movement of nerves and connective tissues, smoothly-operating reactive muscles, clarity of mind, stress management, sleep hygiene). 
To achieve positive flow, we remove blockages to that flow. The best way to understand this concept is to test the effect of posture on the various systems mentioned. Have you ever noticed the effect of your posture on your ability to read, study, understand, or create? Try it out! Can you draw well slumped on the couch? How does your posture effect your breathing? Test your depth of breath while looking at your phone in your hand, chin to chest. Pretty unsatisfactory, right? And if you slouch to improve digestion, you are misguided. Correct posture and gentle movement will enhance the free flow of vital factors such as those mentioned above.
Training your body to achieve a state of relaxation can relieve many health conditions regarded as “normal” or “due to stress”. Back and neck pains are very common and often related to posture and habitual positions. Carpel tunnel and sciatic pain are related to narrowing pathways for tendons and nerves. Too many people are so tense that they don’t even recognize that feeling as undesirable anymore, and headaches or high blood pressure may be daily occurrences. Just think about how good you feel after a massage or hot bath. Wouldn’t it be better to perform at that level of relaxation all the time? Freedom from tension also allows the body to use energy in constructive ways instead of wasting it holding incorrect postures and positions. Practice of relaxation techniques and body awareness when tension sneaks in will allow your standing posture to take a natural, neutral, “ready” position which, once trained, will become your normal state of being.
Luckily you have access to a discipline which will guide you to the best alignment; Tai Chi. In the practice of Tai Chi, the core posture (Wu Chi) and key movements are based on a deep understanding of your integrated body. The position is so correct that it is effortless to hold and allows the body to function at its highest level. With expert guidance, the feeling of an aligned posture, and the energy flow which follows, becomes your true nature and the positive effects will begin to appear in all aspects and activities of your daily life. Habitual practice of releasing tension and consistent self-testing methods for high levels of energy flow are hallmarks of the Tai Chi method as taught at Clear Tai Chi Member Schools. We are happy to answer any questions you may have and further guide you in your self-improvement! 

How to Put This Into Practice

Here is a little practice to help you out. Do only the movement which your body allows at this time:

Poor lifelong habits may have caused your body to become stiff, but with practice over time these issues will loosen up. 

To begin, stand or lay down, then go through the body, part by part, tensing and then releasing. 

Inhale while tensing, exhale while relaxing. 

If any particular part of your body is habitually tense, you may need to repeat this action several times. 

Shake out each part as you go.

Next, stand and bounce the whole body several times, not jumping, just gently bounce from the bottom of the feet all through the body, shaking out your limbs and allowing the breath to puff out with each bounce. 

Your body should feel a good deal more relaxed. 

Now, stand with your feet shoulder distance apart, toes pointing forward. 

Feel that you head is stretching upward, but from the crown, not the forehead, and completely without tension. 

Your breath should flow easily. 

Next, rotate the hips and relax your knees such that the curve in the lower back straightens out, but carefully, softly, and without tension. 

Gently test your limbs to assure yourself that the whole body is tension-free and relax the mind, just focus on gentle breathing without any agenda or
expectations. 

How do you feel now compared to when you started? 

Enjoy! ☯︎

Sheila Bell

Founder/Instructor
A Clear Tai Chi Member School

Schedule

Tuesday: 8:30 to 9:30 at Ultrafit Gym in Playas del Coco.

Thursday: 8:30 to 9:30 at Ultrafit Gym in Playas del Coco.

Private lessons and small group retreats by appointment.

Balance Ideal

Lot 22 Chorotega
Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Central America
Phone: +506 8701 0592

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