A recent article in the Huffington Post made me realize how society never talks about slouching posture as a cultural act of defiance beyond the teenage years. But grown-up artist Sarah Lucas does just that, and I like the artistic expression of it. If we don't talk about the devastating health effects of habitual slouching but look at it as an artistic standpoint, we get an interesting new perspective:
".....Defiant slumping dates back at least to 1913 with the “debutante slouch,” a self-conscious craze (documented around the time by the Library of Congress and The New York Times) used to describe women of all classes who walked with their “shoulders sloping, chest dropped, hips slung forward and the knees... slightly bent.” For many, the posture went hand in hand with women drinking, smoking and casting corsets aside; it was something to be medically advised against. For others, it was a signifier of imperfect change, of (mostly white) women finally harnessing defiance, vying for jobs in male-dominated fields and protesting for the right to vote, slouch-shaming be damned.
In recent years, celebrities like Kristen Stewart, Emma Watson and Keira Knightley have inspired tsk-tsking tabloid headlines for their refusal to assume classic starlet stances on carpets. And in case you needed any additional evidence that slouching is a good thing, Jordan Peterson advises against it.
As someone who has the posture of Eeyore holding a smartphone, Lucas’ devotion to slouch life hits me where it aches (in my lower spine). I have only felt shame in relation to my posture, perceiving it as a sign of my indefatigable fatigue and inability to function in even the most basic of ways. I’d never considered that a slouch could be something to be proud of, a way of wordlessly communicating some form of BDE...."
If the above mentioned actresses assumed the slouch habitually or made a conscious choice to make a cultural statement is still unclear.
"'Having Good Posture' does not work, but 'Being In Good Alignment' does." If you are like most people, you sit quite a bit during the day. Sitting can be difficult to maintain if your back is hurting, your spine is rounding and your head feels heavy when you are getting tired.
This workshop will address fundamental principles of balance, ease and alignment. Learn how to sit, stand and walk with less effort, more support, and more comfort.
For more Information go to:
by Michaelle Edwards, YogAlign
"Hamstring stretching has been listed as a remedy for sciatica, back, hip, and leg pain. Fitness and yoga courses instruct people how to stretch their hamstrings by bending forward from standing or lying with the knees straight and ankles flexed creating a targeted stretch for the hamstring muscles.
Stretching the hamstring muscles will not make them longer because the tension or contraction of a muscle is under control of the nervous system. You simply cannot make a muscle longer by pulling on it. Hamstrings do not exist in isolation from the rest of the body; where the global reality is that all parts affect the whole. Many people injure their spine and lower backs, tear or inflame hamstring tendon attachments and even rupture discs doing stretches such as seated and standing forward bends in yoga.
Why do my hamstrings feel short and tight?
Hamstrings are most likely not short and tight but long, tense and weak. Pulling on them will only give a few minutes of relief as the stretch reflex in the nervous system creates inhibitory signals to create length and keep tissues from tearing. When doing compartmentalized hamstring stretching like forward bends, the feeling of relief from the stretch reflex only lasts about 20 minutes and then the hamstrings feel tight again. For this reason, hamstring stretches never seem to work and must be repeated over and over. Hamstrings are ‘tight’ because the front body is short so shortening the front body to stretch the back is like digging a hole in the sand.
Why then do my hamstrings feel tense?
Most people sit a lot during the day and this weakens the back muscles and hamstrings. Breathing muscles are inhibited and the muscles of the back body are not working since the chair back works like a brace. In particular, the groin and hip flexor muscles shorten and when we stand up, they still retain a shortness that puts a strain on the extensor chain (muscles of the back body)" Read full article here.
Blue light from tech gadgets and digital eye strain: More than 73 percent of young adults suffer from symptoms
Do you have unexplained dry, irritated eyes? Blurred vision? Neck and back pain and headaches? If so, your digital gadgets may be (at least partly) to blame.
The results of a new survey released at the Consumer Electronics Show by the Vision Council, a trade group representing the nation's eyecare products, shows that most Americans are overexposing their eyes to technology. Nearly 90 percent said they spend two or more hours on a digital device each day, and many spend significantly more time on them. One in 10 reported spending at least 75 percent of their waking hours looking at a screen.
“Our eyes are not built to stare at digital screens all day,” said Justin Bazan, medical adviser to the Vision Council.
Adults younger than 30 may be most vulnerable, with 73 percent saying they are experiencing digital eye strain symptoms as compared to 65 percent for all Americans. Women also seem particularly at risk, with 70 percent experiencing problems as compared to only 60 percent of men.
Dora Adamopoulos, a medical adviser to the Vision Council and an optometrist at Eye2Eye Optometry Corner in Alexandria, Va., said in an interview that more and more young people have been coming in to her practice in recent years complaining that their eyes are tired, red, burning or feel as though they have sand in them.
"I’m getting the millennials coming in feeling symptoms you used to feel in your early 40s," she said. Often, all they need is to reduce their use of the devices, take frequent breaks and maybe get filtering lenses.
A father and child lying in bed with an e-reader. Adamopoulos said she was "really surprised" by just how much time people are spending on screens these days. "When you really look at some of the data, children especially, and the length of time [they are] spending -- and on not just one device but multiple devices -- it's astounding," she said. In the report, many parents said they allow their children to use devices for three or more hours a day.
A person's risk for eye strain is determined by the frequency and duration of use of such devices, the use of multiple devices simultaneously and the proximity of the screen.
Computer, iPad and smartphone screens are thought to strain the eyes because they emit blue light or high-energy visible (HEV) light, which reaches far deeper into the eye than other kinds of light and can cause effects that are cumulative. Previous studies have shown that blue wavelengths that can boost attention and mood in the day can be disruptive at night, interrupting sleep patterns and circadian rhythms that scientists believe could play a role making people more vulnerable to chronic diseases.
The new report, based on a survey of 10,000 Americans, found that the way people use their digital devices and their risk for eye strain varies widely by age group -- with those who are youngest being affected more than older generations.
1. Use computer eyewear and glasses with lens options that can help reduce symptoms of digital eye strain, block harmful blue light and improve vision.
2. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20-second break from the screen every 20 minutes and look at something 20 feet away.
3. Build an optically optimal workspace to mitigate outside irritants. For example, reduce overhead lighting to eliminate glare.
4. "High-five" the screen for the correct viewing distance when sitting at a computer.
5. Increase text size on devices to better define content on the screen.
Read entire article here.
by Daniel Norton Luna
"The first time I entered the Walk-In-Balance Center for the Alexander Technique, I came to an "Effortless Posture 101" workshop - to learn some basics to help with my poor posture. I walked away from this introduction to the Alexander Technique inspired to bring reason to my use of the body, to make sense of all my unconscious habits. I signed up for lessons and the process of personal enlightening through my body has since continued.
Reflecting on the lessons from this past year, countless micro-experiences, realizations, and life decisions come to my mind to describe the deep development brought to my life. Yet, detailing those events, ideas, and changes would make little sense without first recognizing how I learned to practice the Technique.
Even so, it would be impossible to describe my growth as an Alexander Student without first and foremost recognizing my Alexander Teacher, Flora D.H. Ojanen, whose skillful openness and compassion shaped the honesty and effectiveness of our work together. Learning to practice the Alexander Technique with Flora has taught me the skills to pause, release and body reasoning, and with the appropriate use of these skills, I find I am on the path to being true to myself and my nature.
....Pause. The pause is a fundamental skill an Alexander student must nurture. It is a relatively simple concept: just stop, pause! Yet, in this skill lies the key to interfering with habit cycles. At the beginning of lessons, Flora would usually ask how I have been. Many times she would come over to me, in the middle of my response, and acknowledge an area of my body that is doing something unnecessary. My neck might be jutting forward, making me push my head back to stay level, and this stress may start in the positioning of my hips, which I am unconsciously pushing forward, or perhaps even my feet, where I am distributing the weight of my body onto my heels - either way! I need to pause. Flora allows me to take a moment to witness the imbalance within myself, to stop what I am doing (responding to her question) to see what I am actually doing (losing my balance).
While the pause brings awareness to habits and tension in one's body, the next invaluable skill, release, eases one into letting go of them. After Flora has me notice the tension I am putting my body through, we work together in letting go of this tension. Especially when first starting to practice the Alexander Technique, easing the muscles I thought were essential to holding me together was a scary and disorienting experience.
It was a venturing into the unknown. Flora's calm voice would reassure me, "You're not going to fall if you let go of your hips; I am standing right here, I'll catch you." Learning to release is an exercise in trust. Through this trust and Flora's honest hands, I was able to experience the ease of balance and uprightness as I had never known it before, In this space, there is stillness, grace and peace.
Who knew there could be so much joy in standing?
After experiencing the spaciousness of one's body can indeed provide, the question arises: how can I maintain this? The final skill, body reasoning, seeks to answer that question, as it encourages the Alexander student to consider their use of the body as they work through every situation Life throws at them. In my early lessons with Flora, I fell in love with the feeling of balance and finding the natural space in my body. Since then, she has shared with me the skill of learning to move in ways that prioritize balance. The exercises were always quite fun and entertaining - I am particularly fond of the time I had to balance a peacock feather on the tip of my finger. At first, I was trying to make the feather stay up through sheer reaction to its movements, which send it even more out of control. From her sage wisdom of feather-balancing, Flora told me: "Let the feather be your leader, follow the feather."
On my next try, I heeded to her advice. I allowed myself to stay open with balance and follow the feather's movement through space: I experienced following balance itself.
With time and practice, I have been able to bring these skills to other areas of my life with the simple, but most rewarding effect: being true to myself and my nature. Throughout our work, Flora would identify (and make me aware of) this process as it was unfolding because I am, before all other labels, simply embedded within this body. The feelings I experience in this body are my own and through keen introspection, I can become aware of the root of these sensations. Furthermore, this awareness creates the opportunity to let go of whatever I am gripping in the moment, to rediscover space where I have kept it hidden.
Finally, this work and these lessons have given me tools and opened me to the process of reincorporating this natural spaciousness of being into my life, in every moment I can bear to face in humble honesty."
Early Development of Language by Hand: Composing, Reading, Listening, and Speaking Connections in Children.
A 2006 study from the Department of Educational Psychology, University of Washington (Seattle) showed that Printing, Cursive Writing, and Typing on a keyboard are all associated with distinct and separate brain patterns - and each results in a distinct end result. When children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas.... See the full study here.
It is said that Virginia Woolf wrote while standing at a desk 3'6" tall because she wanted to be like a painter who could instantly step away from her canvas to get a better view...
She was onto something. Coming up and out of the mental thicket for air, with wide eyes and ears to inhale space and sound, refreshing the senses to allow the emergence of the grander picture...
Beautiful and relatable. Protagonist for the standing desk.
"Integrity takes long thoughtful walks. When she comes home, her pockets are full of stones and shells and feathers. She is the daughter of a weaver, and she has inherited her mother's sense of texture and color, though she prefers the potter's wheel to the loom. She makes ritual vessels for the local temple. It was through working with clay that Integrity grew to understand that the body is also a vessel, beautiful, sturdy, empty, and sacred.
Integrity loves the intersection where sculpture becomes dance. She has a supple spine and loves muscles. She knows sign language and has often worked as an interpreter. When she speaks with her hands, it is not in grand, dramatic gestures but in soft, subtle movements. Watching her hands dance, we hear stories that we have no words for."
Check out this video description of the benefits of the Alexander Technique given by Dr. Tinbergen, Nobel Laureate. He devoted a significant portion of his Nobel lecture to talking about F. M. Alexander, the Alexander Technique, and the importance of Alexander's discoveries and the benefits he and his wife experienced from lessons.
Inquire. What is happening? The path to wisdom is to not look for done answers but for possibilities.
Wisdom wears an indigo jacket. She takes long walks in the purple hills at twilight, pausing to meditate at an old temple near the crossroads. She was sick as a young child so she learned to be alone with herself at an early age.
Wisdom has a quiet mind. She likes to think about the edges where things spill into each other and become their opposites. She knows how to look at things inside and out. Sometimes her eyes go out to the things she is looking at, and sometimes the thing she is looking at enters through her eyes. Questions of time, depth, and balance interest her. She is not looking for answers.
(J. Ruth Gendler)
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