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YogaDork Ed: Is Your Posture Wearing You Down?

in YD News, YogaDork Ed

This bothers me, a little:
But I get it. I took this picture at an area coffee shop that I frequent during my lunch break from classes – and I do mean frequent, because they now know me by name. That’s a little scary.

My point is, the ‘stand on one leg and stick out the other one with both legs turned out’ look that’s so popular for line-waiting, as demonstrated so beautifully for us by these three anonymous models (although the dude in the middle I know as ‘the other guy they know by name in this area coffee shop’) is not an isolated incident. Next time you’re standing in line at the store, or your own area coffee shop, after you finish reading about this year’s sexiest person, check out the way you’re standing. Odds are it will look something like the above.

We’ve become somehow allergic to a) standing on both legs evenly and b) pointing said legs straight forward. We think we look like robots when we do that. No really, we do. People tell me that when I make them do it. But I do it myself, on purpose, all the time, because it helps with my scoliosis/crazy hip, and it’s cleared a lot of one sided lower back pain. You know what I hear, constantly? (I’ll give you a clue – it’s not “Are you a robot?”)

I hear: “Your posture is amazing!” “Are you a dancer?” “I’ve been admiring the way you walk for the past hour!” (That last one was a little creepy, but still a compliment). I can talk about it until I’m blue in the face (and if you’ve ever taken class with me, odds are I’ve mentioned it at least once that you can remember) but until you start doing it, you won’t believe me that it can make such a big difference in your mood, your ‘tude, and your dude (I needed a third thing. If you are a dude or know a dude, either way it will make a difference).

This bothers me, a lot:
This is from the latest Urban Outfitters catalog. I’m not sure how well you can see what is going on for this poor deformed lady, but she’s basically making a huge kyphotic (backwards) C curve with her spine, while throwing her shoulders anteriorly (forward), jamming her pelvis anteriorly (forward), and borderline overextending her neck (backward). Apparently, if you close your eyes and do that, the bubbles come.

Monkey see, monkey do – I’m no longer in the demographic that UO is aiming for (and yet they haven’t dumped me from their mailing list, which I sort of appreciate in a “what are those crazy kids up to these days?” way), but it makes me so very, very annoyed to see this, because back in MY day, when I WAS being aggressively marketed to, at least the women got to stand like this:

I mean, bananas outfit notwithstanding, and setting aside whatever you may know or think about this particular person, this is the stance of a strong woman inhabiting her body. [Side note: she also gets to have muscles.]

This is not supposed to be a post about the vagaries of modeling, although I could so very easily go there – but that’s another story.

This is me, pleading with you to stand up straight, and point both feet forward, and stand on both of them. That’s it. It’s really, really simple, and I would bet you money that it will make your lower back happier. Plus, you’ll get compliments. Oh, one last thing: you have to do it for the rest of your life. But honestly, it’s not as hard as having to go to rehab for your screwed up L4/L5 or knee issues. I promise.


Sarah Court is an Integrated Yoga Tune Up Teacher, also trained in Anusara and Jivamukti Yoga, who draws from all of these styles in her teaching. She teaches weekly YTU and Vinyasa classes at various locations in Los Angeles, and trains yoga teachers in anatomy and in YTU across the country. Find her schedule here or learn more at her full website.

YogaDork Ed: For the edification of yoga practitioners, teachers and yogi dabblers, on asana, philosophy, yoga biz and more. Read more YogaDork Ed articles here.



14 comments… add one
  • candace

    Thanks, Sarah!!

  • Jen

    YES! Thank you, Sarah! Lift that chest, straighten out your feet and lift the front of your waist! Things to continiously remind myself to do and now notice with others. Going back to an office after being a yoga instructor, I kind of want to tell my co-workers to lift their chest (or stand on both legs for that matter) all the time! Thank you for writing a funny and honest account of what we all need to be aware of…how we hold our body.

  • JeffreyD

    But but but, a weak lower back is the general cause of bad posture. Doing deadlifts is going to help the most for that, of course yoga will help as well.

    Favoring one leg over the other while waiting in line? Unless you wait in line for hours and hours a day, I just can’t imagine this making much of a difference. Seems to me that it’s a method of avoiding muscle fatigue and so it’s more of an effect than a cause.

  • Freeken’ brilliant article! I mean it’s so simple and ‘straightforward’ but it’s truly invaluable advice and unbelievably funny in the that’s-sooo-true kind of way. I’m not sure I stand with my feet straight forward (more like penguin or ballet feet like I like to call them) but just standing on both of them seem to support my body enough to get the ‘are you a dancer?’ comment frequently. Keep up the comedic truth, it helps spread the good word about yoga!

  • Anne Marie

    Love it! What a great blog post… and so funny (because it’s so true!)

  • hazel

    Couldn’t agree w’ you more. I do get compliments for having a good posture – straight back, wide shoulders & lengthened neck. Ergo I’ll not be a yogi for nothing 🙂


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