One of the lessons of life that frequently comes up is body alignment and it’s relationship to breath and habits. Life is one long journey of self discovery, a journey that never ends. As I learn more about body, mind, and spirit, I realize how much more there is to learn.
I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about a reiki session he attended, and how breathing properly can lift you into proper alignment. We were standing outside with our hands on our bellies, deeply breathing and feeling our diaphragm expand and our shoulders and head lift.
It’s really fascinating every time I think about breath and it’s effects on the entire body.
Through breath comes awareness. When we let go of our”monkey mind” and focus on our breath, we allow for silence in the mind. When we silence the mind, we are more able to feel the sensations in our body. Our bodies are always communicating with us, but how well do we listen, and can we even understand what they are telling us?
The more we listen the more we’ll come to understand.
It has been my experience that deep breathing increases meditation, awareness, flexibility, strength, and healing.
Let’s dive right in and learn what we can do to achieve body alignment.
Awareness of Everyday Habits
The very first step to body alignment is awareness. You must be aware of several things, one is your daily habits and how this affects your body alignment. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- Am I breathing deep enough?
- Are my muscles stiff from sitting at a desk all day?
- Am I standing, sitting, and/or walking with poor posture?
- Are my muscles tight from stress or anxiety, can I feel myself clenching my muscles?
Our body is a result of our daily habits, habits are automatic, we don’t have to think about them. To break a habit you must recognize or become aware of the habit. The question is what are your daily habits?
Habitual Work Out Routine
This is the time you specifically dedicate to your body. In an ideal world you could practice 1-2 hours, 4-5 days per week and the very first exercise to practice and nail, is breath. Breath is the key to unlocking your body’s full potential.
The goal is to practice good posture, form and breathing in the time you dedicate to your body, and apply these practices in your everyday life until proper posture, form and breath becomes a habit.
Here are just a few questions to ask yourself pertaining to your physical routine.
- Are you warming up properly, and prepping your muscles for exertion?
- Do you need to focus more on flexibility, strength, or a balance of both?
- Are you working out with proper form? Do you know what the proper form is?
- Are you doing counterbalanced exercises? When you bend backwards, do you bend forward?
- Are you working both sides evenly?
A coach or personal trainer can help you create a consistent routine that you can easily follow. I believe consistency is key, because consistency leads to habits. The more you practice a specific routine with good form, the more you will be able to do these exercises automatically, so you can focus on your breath and the sensations of your body.
Once you have a good consistent routine with proper form, your body will eventually adapt to these changes and proper body alignment will be easier to maintain. Your workout routine will become a habit that will automatically integrate with your everyday habits.
The last step is, what are you going to do about it? Do you have the awareness and self discipline to correct yourself? Do you need someone to guide you through a routine? Do you need someone to physically move you into position? This all depends on what kind of learner you are. Do you learn best by watching, by listening, or by doing? Find whatever is best, and take action, because action leads to results.
- Practice breathing.
- Get to know yourself on a deeper level. Don’t let your mind take over, instead focus on how your body feels.
- Take your time, and be patience with yourself.
- Learn a consistent balanced routine, and always practice with good form. Your routine should feel good, you should crave your routine if it’s truly working for you. If not, make changes until you get it right; when you get it right, keep it consistent.
- Take photos of yourself and compare them to people with good form, this will help you to identify what you need to focus on.
- Always be aware of what your body is doing, and continue to correct it. Even when you are sitting at your desk, continue to monitor your posture, and your muscles. The more you think about it, the more you will automatically correct yourself; it will be a habit to correct yourself before good posture becomes a habit.
Breath gives you power to use your muscles in ways you never thought possible.
To me flexibility is strength in new ranges of motion. To be able to backbend with good form I had to build the muscles in my back accordingly which in turn immensely helped my posture, as them muscles in my back were strengthening an the tightness I experience in my shoulders and upper back started to disappear.
Body alignment comes naturally when you practice good form in physical activity. Physically activity is the only way to achieve greater flexibility, strength and the balance of the two. Hopefully this guide will help you start your journey!