Posture is important for everyone, of course. There are, however, reasons why improving your posture can be especially helpful for women.
To be clear, the kind of posture I am interested in is not stiff or held, the way so many people unfortunately think of “good posture.” It’s not about “standing up straight.” That can cause as many problems as it solves.
I’m talking about the kind of posture that is relaxed, yet upright, that embodies ease, poise and flow.
This kind of posture is good for us all, and helps alleviate all sorts of aches and pains associated with slumping, compression and excess tension.
I discovered this in the first few months of studying the Alexander Technique as the chronic neck pain and tension I’d had for years gradually began to disappear. I was discovering my own innate body intelligence. This alone was a cause for celebration!
As I continued learning, I realized, however, this was only the beginning. Improving my posture in this way, it turned out, had many other benefits that reached into all areas of my life. As I embarked on my new career as an entrepreneur they have been invaluable.
Here are the reasons why I believe all women in business should care about their posture. I hope these will convince you too!
When we slump, collapse, pull in on ourselves, we’re sending ourselves the message that we’re tired, sad, anxious, and so forth, even if this is not the case. We may have become habituated to this posture when we’re using our phone or computer. Coming out of the slump sends the opposite message to ourselves – that we’re feeling good.
The postures most associated with low self-esteem and powerlessness – i.e. making yourself smaller – are particularly common in women. Learning to improve your posture by releasing tension allows you to benefit from greater self-esteem without any problems associated with excess tension.
Confidence goes hand in hand with self-esteem. Improving our posture to be more upright, open and expansive has been shown to not only improve our own sense of confidence, but also the way we are perceived by others. We are seen as more confident.
When we’re tense and stressed – which literally pulls us out of shape – we are basically having a fight-or-flight response. I call this the “Posture of Overwhelm.” In this state we cannot think clearly. When we are able to come out of the Posture of Overwhelm, into a naturally relaxed and upright posture, this enables our creativity to flow – whether that’s artistically, in the creation of new projects and programs, or the ability to think outside the box and solve problems.
When our posture is closed in on itself, so is our mind. They go hand in hand. This is mind-body unity. When we learn how release into a more expansive posture, we become more open inside and out. This means we are more receptive to different ideas and opportunities, and appear more approachable to others.
Imagine a lion sitting on the crest of a hill, surveying the land around him. He’s alert – relaxed, yet ready for action, aware of everything around him. You might describe his posture as poised. When we’re in this state you can see the big picture, but are ready to hone in on the detail when necessary, without losing the bigger focus. It encourages clarity of thought and mental agility.
When our posture is naturally upright and easeful, we are using ourselves efficiently, expending only as much energy as needed for the task in hand. In other words, we’re not wasting effort on excess tension (whether in the collapse of the slump, or the tightness of holding ourselves to “sit up straight”), so we have more energy for the things that matter – in our work and in our life.
When our posture is relaxed, yet upright, when we’re expansive, open, and at ease in ourselves, we have presence. This is palpable. It helps us connect better with others. It gives us authority, without appearing aggressive or overbearing. We are also more present. This way of being is about more than just the outside of us – how we look. It involves inner change and being in the present moment, helping us be better listeners, helping us focus on what’s in front of us, and improving our overall awareness of our self and others.
This all adds up to greater productivity.
When we feel good, when we’re comfortable, we are more productive.
When we’re not tense or in pain, we are more productive.
When we’re more alert, thinking more clearly, we are more productive.
When we’re in a good mood, when our self-esteem and confidence is high, we make quicker decisions, move more intentionally toward our goals, and are more productive.
When we are thinking creativity, we can solve problems more easily, and we are more productive.
When we’re more open and present, we are more receptive to people and ideas, and we are more productive.
When we have more energy, we can work more efficiently and produce higher quality work. We are more productive.
Amazingly, your posture has the power to influence all these things. While not a panacea, learning to improve your posture by releasing excess tension and reclaiming your natural uprightness and ease can have an extraordinary impact on both your productivity and your well-being. This is what body intelligence is all about.
Have you noticed the impact of your posture on your life? On your work? What would you like to change? As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment in the space below.