Many people believe that their postural, muscular and skeletal “imperfections” are all to blame on their parents or ancestors. “My father and his father were also hunched over”... “all the women in our family have bunions” etc etc... Fortunately, this is only partially true. Yes, we are all, to a degree, the biological expression of a meeting of two sets of genes. But we are also much more than that, which means that we can do a lot to prevent, change and improve on our body’s “destiny”.
When it comes to movement and the physical expression of our bodies, we’re much better off adopting the approach “I am my own person” than “there is nothing I can do about it”! Our ability or inability to move in different ways (run, dance, swim, do Yoga or Pilates) is greatly affected by our postural and movement habits. The way we stand and walk is learned at a very early age by watching those around us; we copy postural and movement patterns from our parents and develop them gradually. Factors such as muscle tone (high or low), body shape and size (height and weight) and length of time that we stay in a particular position (e.g. sitting slouched while staring at a screen…) can affect the development of asymmetrical patterns and imbalances. Our health and well-being, and emotional state can also affect how we hold ourselves greatly. For example, insecurity about our external appearance, can easily make us assume a “shy person’s posture” which, over time, become our habitual posture.
Thankfully, there is a lot that can be done . By deliberately and mindfully training your body, you can gradually shift and change the relationship between your body parts, what movements are “available” to you and how much effort goes into achieving physical tasks. Creating a mental image of how to sit, stand and carry yourself is key as it is this image that you are going to produce physically in your body. Beware of oversimplified notions such as “stick your chest out and pull your shoulders down”! Instead, try to develop a more holistic picture by following proper advice from movement teachers. Moving a lot and moving well is the other key factor. Your “movement diet” should include movements that reverse the negative effects of modern life on your body. Such movements can be found in abundance in your Yoga and Pilates classes.
The more you do and practice, the more new, and previously unattained, movements become second nature. Muscle tone, body shape, your health, well-being and your emotional state are all, to a great degree, in your hands. If you want to learn and improve, don’t let anyone or any misleading notion stop you from achieving your goals. And what a wonderful lesson you can teach the the next generation too.