I came of age during the dawn of the fashionable slouch. Despite my mother’s admonitions to keep my shoulders back, I conformed to the preferred silhouette: the pelvis forward, knees bent. It has not served me well.
Millennials, take heed. The long-term effects of gravity are not to be denied. If you start slumped, you may end up standing with your nose touching your knees. Be forewarned: Stilettos and brilliant leather bags that weigh as much as a mid-sized dog give home-court advantage to the earth’s pull. Downward. Full disclosure: I did my time tramping about Manhattan in Bruno Magli heels. I’ve reformed: Forget about sex appeal. Opt for good sense.
Bad posture is insidious. It’s formed gradually over hours, days, years hunched over one device or another, a lunch or dinner table, leaning forward, elbows on the table. These are habits — bad habits that constrict our breathing and crumple our digestive tracts. No good will come of it.
Then there’s sitting — and air travel. I recently took a flight to California thinking I was prepared. I’d torn an article out of the New York Times on in-flight yoga poses. The challenge proved to be miniaturizing them for coach class – a physical, spiritual and social exercise. I mastered one — raising my legs. The others are going to require more practice, and less concern about my seat mates. Perhaps they will want to practice alongside me.
It’s taken me eight years of yoga classes and relatively diligent practice to be able to recognize what it feels like to breathe. It happens when you stand on flat feet, weight balanced and your spine reaching upward (new muscles!). While I wish I’d started sooner, I’m grateful to have finally figured it out.
Summer is a good time to not just think about this but to do something. The air is bad. It’s hot. There’s more exposed skin. All good reasons to look the world straight in the eye, take a deep breath and breathe.