Should You Sit Up Straight?

I was talking to a group of psycho-therapists the other day.

I said every emotion requires a particular alignment of the body. Lose that alignment and you’ll lose the emotion.

For instance, when you take up your full space in the world, your full height and width, it’s hard to be overcome by the disabling emotions of depression, contempt, anger, disgust and the like. Instead, you’ll likely feel tranquil.

If you want to feel anger, you’ll have to tighten and compress your neck and pull down and in to that emotion.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling anger when it serves you, but we’re better off not getting stuck there.

“So we’ll feel better if we sit up straight?” asked one bloke, who pulled himself up.

“Not necessarily,” I said. “If we pull ourselves up straight, we’re likely to increase our body tension, and that does us more harm than good. It would be more effective to sit or stand like you’d just received good news. If you were feeling happy, how would you sit? Go with that emotion and lit it ripple through your body.”

Before I studied Alexander Technique, I always had bad posture and my dad would always get on me to sit up straight. That advice does no good. You can’t sustain it. It feels terrible. And when you do hold on to it, you’re increasing your muscle tension and doing yourself more harm than good.

If you want to go up, there are more effective ways than pushing up. One thing you can do is to listen to every sound around you. As your ears perk up, the rest of your kinaesthesia will likely perk up too.

If you’re a visual person, you might move up more effectively by seeing everything in front of you by paying attention to what you see to your sides and then taking note of everything in between.

Anything you can do to wake up your senses and to come in to the present moment will likely result in your torso untangling and your head moving to a poised position on top of your lengthened spine.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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