This word “posture” is not a fun word for many clients. They tell me that they are aware that their posture is BAD. In my previous incarnation as a Pilates teacher, I might overlook that negative imagery and move right into whatever protocols seemed best to me to FIX the situation. Now I wonder if posture can be BAD . Do we discipline this naughty bunch of bones into normative behavior? Or, do I send for an ambulance to surgically repair the misfit?
My children’s father was a chiropractor. One day the girls came home from visiting the office and told me that Daddy had a dinosaur in his office, his skeleton model. They were four and six and perhaps much smarter than their parents. They were able to describe what they saw. They did not see a living, dynamic, replica of the human body in motion.
The image of the skeleton in my studio is useful as a generic visual map of the location of bones. It does not present the truth of movement. Without the connective tissue of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and cartilage, Mr. Joe, as we call our skeleton, would be a pile of bones on the floor.
I am stymied when clients arrive at Pat Guyton Pilates, Inc. who have been chastised by a health care professional that the cause of all their problems in life is embedded in bad posture. “I am told by my therapist that I am sleeping wrong.” I wondered how you could be asleep and be vigilant regarding the position of the body while unconsciousness.
I have a posture evaluation that I use for screening of all new clients. I begin the Pilates education with some common anatomical landmarks and some anatomically inspired images. I use imagery that can be understood by anyone with life experience. It can be a geometric shape, a mechanical tool or a design to develop a common language for movement cuing that may be required in an exercise.
A student and teacher, look in the mirror and SEE what is there. Then we talk about choices for movement and how we can train new patterns. Most people are very grateful to be given guidance in an environment of education and support. I love telling people that they take their cars to the garage at the first hint of trouble. Cats and dogs in Boulder receive the best health care available. Our most important vehicle is the one and only body that we are given at birth. We can get several new cars and hopefully we all will do so when technology has engineered vehicles with dependable renewable resources.
For Pilates education to begin I must address the posture in a supportive and functional way that leads to movement. It helps me identify the map of what, where, and why the reflection in the mirror presents posture that is a unique reflection for each person. From this analysis, I can begin to make suggestions that optimize a central axis. Once this process has become a mutual endeavor, exercises can be selected that encourage the living body to move toward balance, strength, flexibility and health.
This is a continual process that requires daily practice. Events in life, such as emotional stress, accidents, and age urge the body to spiral down the drain toward entropy. This happens when we believe in the traditional view of diminished quality of movement and a consequent relinquishment of mental and physical activity. Thoughts of breathing life into everyday activity will vanquish the specter of age.
This does not take work. It requires commitment, dedication, and joyful thoughts.
I call this TAMING THE DINOSAUR, which allows the bones to assume their role and takes the focus from holding a position of tension. We no longer “hang off of our bones”, we live in harmony with the whole body. Muscles begin to work in balance. The mind and body connection are enhanced. T-REX can become a joyful puppy.