5 Benefits of Good Posture
If you’ve been spending more time than you’d like in front of a screen, chances are you’re no stranger to the feeling when you emerge—head foggy, neck stiff, shoulders hunched, back seriously protesting.
As dancers know, good posture not only looks good, it feels good too. Though proper body alignment takes quite a bit of training, once achieved, most dancers find slouching uncomfortable.
The ancient Chinese had a saying: “站如松，坐如鐘， 行如風，臥如弓” (zhàn rú sōng, zuò rú zhōng, xíng rú fēng, wò rú gōng). While it doesn’t rhyme as elegantly in English, it means:
“Stand like a pine,
Sit like a bell,
Walk like the wind,
Lie like a bow.”
They knew that good posture not only reflects inner character, it is also key to maintaining good health.
Intrigued? Here are five ways you will benefit from having good posture.
1) You’ll appear tall and confident.
When your spine is aligned and extended to its fullest, when your shoulders are pulled back and your head is held high, you look like you can take on the world. That is why dancers will straighten to their fullest to depict heroes, emperors, or celestial beings, and hunch down to express sadness or wickedness.
2) You’ll use more muscles and burn more calories!
Whether standing or sitting, good posture requires engaging many different sets of muscles. Your core tightens to keep your torso upright. Your back muscles keep your shoulders down and your chest open. Your lower body muscle groups also engage to keep the line of your body straight.
Try holding yourself perfectly straight for a few minutes. It’s tiring right? Many dancers can break a sweat just standing in proper position.
3) You’ll breathe deeper.
When you slouch, your ribcage sinks and your shoulders round, closing the space your lungs need to expand. Try hunching down and taking a deep breath. Now straighten up and try it again—much more refreshing right?
Bonus: Deeper breathing enhances blood flow and the amount of oxygen in your system, giving you a boost of energy.
4) You’ll have smoother digestion and a happier spine.
Imagine your ribs squishing your vital organs. Scary, right? But that’s exactly what happens when you slouch. Standing straight aligns all your organs properly, giving your digestive system ample space to do its thing.
Your spine is naturally curved to maintain balance and facilitate a full range of motion. Keeping those curves in the right places (neither rounding or over-arching them) will decrease pain in your neck and back, relieve unnecessary pressure on your joints, and free you to bend, dance, and move however you want!
5) You’ll find a more positive state of mind.
You were probably adjusting your posture as you were reading. How did it feel as you were straightening up, lifting your head and opening your chest? Did you feel more confident? More present? Less stressed?
Traditional Chinese wisdom held that mind and matter are one. Often, a slight change on the outside—like standing up straighter—can lead to greater changes on the inside.
Wondering how to achieve better posture? Click here to learn from the Shen Yun dancers themselves. Give it a try and tell us how it goes!