Improve Posture Exercise #1

Improve Posture Exercise #1

In this video I am showing you an exercise that will help you improve your posture.

Here’s what you need for this exercise:

  1. Floor space to lie down

  2. Yoga mat or blanket

  3. Towel/Cushion for head support

  4. Your attention

Now let’s begin!

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Why I don't give specific instructions during Awareness Through Movement lessons

When you go to exercise/fitness classes, you would expect your instructor to show you how to do each exercise/movement correctly step by step, right?  What if your instructor wouldn't show you how to do exercises correctly?  In Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement classes, teachers guide students only verbally through a sequence of movements in a way that they are encouraged to explore and experiment many options of movements instead of being instructed to move only specific ways.  We also don't tell our students that they SHOULD move this way or that way, or this is the CORRECT way of moving.  Instead, we invite our students to pay attention to sensations in their bodies to notice the way they use their bodies habitually and non-habitually. In other words, we help our students to focus on their own kinesthetic experiences, which is subjective.

So, what are the benefits of avoiding specific instructions and encouraging exploration/experimentation?

One size won't fit all.  If we observe 10 different people's body and movements (e.g., walking), we will have 10 different body structures and 10 different movements.  A movement that feels good for one person may not feel good for another person.  If we assume there's only one correct movement that fits everyone, then we try to force ourselves to fit the idea, which may not work for you.  But, if you start to pay attention to your own kinesthetic sensation while exploring movements, you can probably find what works and what doesn't.

Your kinesthetic experience from one exercise/movement is different from others.  If I as an instructor/teacher showed an exercise to my students step by step and told them exactly how they should move, I'm imposing my idea on my students.  What would happen is that they would only focus on trying to make their movement look exactly like my movement.  At that moment, they disengage themselves from their kinesthetic experience.  In my experience, this is when people get hurt in many exercise/fitness classes because they are busy forcing their body to move like someone else's, which may not be right and not paying attention to their own sensation.

After one class (Feldenkrais pelvic clock lesson) I taught to a group of people, I asked them to share what they experienced from the lesson.  One student said that he noticed how he was using his hips and why he felt off balance when he squatted.  Another person said that she noticed how she liked using back instead of hips.  I really don't know what people will experience from each lesson.  I can't expect everyone will have the same experience as I did from the same lesson.  But, if I showed people how to do each movement specifically and asked them to repeat what I did, I could potentially take away all kinds of different experiences and learning they would otherwise get.  

It may be difficult and uncomfortable at first not to have someone show you exercises/movements step by step, but if you let go of that idea and start to "play" with movements and pay attention to how you feel, I can guarantee that exercise/movement will become a lot more enjoyable and fun.  And, you can find more comfortable movements.

To learn about Awareness Through Movement class:

 

 

Using Mistakes to Facilitate Learning

There's a saying "practice makes perfect."  What's involved in practice that leads to "perfect?"  

When we start learning any skill, we don't really know what's perfect as we haven't had any kinesthetic experience that we can make comparison to, though we may have a rough idea where we want to go.  As we try once, and twice, and three times, we start to accumulate experience and constantly receive feedback and make adjustments to refine our skills.  When our movements didn't feel quite right, we would know based on our previous experience.  

Mistakes provide feedback we need in order to make adjustments for the following attempt so we can get closer to our goal, ONLY IF we pay attention to the mistakes we just made. Otherwise, we're more likely to make the same mistakes without much improvements.  This is why some people say "perfect practice makes perfect."  Just simply repeating movements isn't necessarily going to guarantee improvements.  In fact, you may become good at unwanted skills, which now become your new habit.  

Fundamentals of motor learning can always be found when observing babies and kids.  My 9 month old son recently learned to pull himself up to stand.  He was very excited to check out completely different views from standing.  He, however, didn't know how to get back down to the floor.  He lost his balance and fell backwards and hit his head on the floor.  That was a very hard and painful lesson for him.  He was still curious about standing up so he stood up while holding onto the couch.  After a few minutes, he quickly recalled the painful event and was trying to figure out a way to get down to the floor without hitting his head against floor.  He slowly reached one hand towards the floor with the other hand on the couch.  Finally he was able to put one hand on the floor and lowered himself down without falling!  He's learned how to get down to the floor from standing from his mistake.

Mistakes are necessary for improvements.  The word "mistake" is often perceived as having a negative meaning, but if it weren't for mistakes, we wouldn't even know what is "right."  When I work with my clients, I always encourage people to make mistakes and help them recognize what makes certain movements/postures a mistake and what makes them a correct one for them.  We all make lots of mistakes, but mistakes are what get us closer to our goal!  If we make mistakes, we might as well make it fun!  Come join my weekly Awareness Through Movement classes to make mistakes in a playful environment!  

Moving with Attention and Intention

Whether you're training movement for rehab or athletic performance, moving with "attention" and "intention" makes a huge difference in terms of motor learning.  For example, doing an shoulder raise exercise with a weight or elastic tubing will help strengthen shoulder muscles as resistance and gravity place physiological demands on the muscles.  However, strength gain may not carry over to actual functional tasks such as reaching arm overhead to put a dish on a top shelf, changing a light bulb, or any overhead throwing, which means there's no motor learning.  

Exercising just for the sake of strengthening or stretching muscles will not require much attention of the brain.  There won't be much learning without the engagement of the brain. Adding an "intention" for movement/exercise will add a meaning and purpose to movement, and this will grab the brain's attention.  Here are examples.  When boxers do shadow boxing, they have clear intention of every movement, that is fighting against an imaginary person. During Aikido practice, an attacker has a clear intention when he/she is grabbing the opponent's wrist, that is to keep him/her from reaching for their weapon.  This intention organizes the bodies to create movement.  

You wouldn't exercise for no reason, would you?  You probably exercise to improve your functions.  So, think about what specific function you're trying to improve with each exercise. Once you know that, you visualize a specific function while performing each movement.

In order to make real improvements that will last for a  long time we will need to change how we move.  When we change how we move, we'll start to place demands on our bodies differently so we'll start to use muscles that we didn't used to, which then over time will become stronger and more flexible.  When you move with intention, you will pay more attention to your movement, and  your movement becomes much more purposeful and meaningful, which will make your exercise much more effective. Strength gain is given when you place demands on your bodies, but motor learning (changing movement habits) isn't without attention.  Next time you work out or practice movements, think about what specific function you are trying to improve with each exercise and practice moving with attention and intention.

Power of Language

This morning one of my clients said to me "I don't really want to walk outside because I can't walk like normal people."  I am very sensitive to certain words.  The word "normal" is one of the words I'm very sensitive to as a healthcare provider and a movement educator.  I don't how often I hear this word in medical contexts from clients and other healthcare professionals. 

What do people mean by "normal?"  When you define something or someone as being normal, you are implying that everything else is "abnormal" whether you mean it or not.  "Normal" is a relative term in reference to the norm or average.  Someone who is not able to walk because of his/her physical conditions may not ever become "normal" based on the definition of the word. Does that mean those people will never get better?  If their perception is such that they define themselves as being "abnormal" maybe they were told so by someone, they may believe that they will never get better.  For this reason, I don't tend to use the word "normal" to describe my clients' conditions.  Instead, I simply describe their current conditions at the moment and where they could go next day.  If you meet your persons where they are at, there is always a potential for improvements for everyone regardless of their conditions.  I always try to remind myself that what we say to our clients always influences their perception about belief for better and/or worse so we should never underestimate the power of language and therefore have to choose our words very carefully.  Words can hurt or heal people.

Does Core Strengthening Really Do What You Think It Does?

You probably heard about "CORE muscles."  The word "Core" became a buzz word in fitness and physical therapy about 15 years ago, and is still a popular concept.  It's become so popular that core concept is often applied without much relevance.  It's commonly assumed that low back pain is caused by weak core muscles, thus strengthening core muscles fixes back pain; poor posture indicates weak core muscles, thus strengthening core muscles improves/corrects posture.  However, no research shows such relationships.  Weak core muscles DO NOT cause low back pain.  Weak core muscles DO NOT cause poor posture.  Yet, these misconceptions still exists.  

So, is core strengthening a good thing or bad thing?  It depends.  I mean, it depends on functional contexts.  First, you need to know what core is and what it does.  Without going into anatomical details, I will simply tell you that core refers to muscles around the trunk and it mobilizes and stabilizes trunk.  Core strength has nothing to do with back pain or posture. They are whole different topics.  With these things in mind, if you're strengthening your core as you preparing for your daily tasks or sports requiring heaving lifting, which will load the spine, core strengthening is very relevant.  How you train your core muscles also makes a difference. You have to train your core muscles in a way they are used during functional activities.  In other words, doing 1,000 abdominal crunches a day may not give you functional improvements, though you may get 6 packs.  Thus, functional contexts do matter. Strengthening muscles in wrong contexts is sort of like trying to eat soup with a fork instead of a spoon.  

Besides the point I made above, I noticed a trend of holding core muscles all the time in many people.  Maybe at one point, they learned this idea to resolve their back pain, and holding core muscles has eventually become their habit, meaning out of their consciousness.  This trend is much more common than you would think.  And this trend has negative consequences.  First, this constant abdominal contraction inhibits diaphragm, which is the primary breathing muscle. Thus, it affects breathing quality.  Consequently, the demand for other breathing muscles increases, which are intercostal muscles (muscles between ribs) and scalene muscle (one of neck muscles).  These breathing mechanisms are not as efficient as the primary breathing mechanism.  This may sound strange, but habitual core contraction can lead to increased neck and shoulder strain.  When I work with clients who are complaining of neck or shoulder pain, I often end up working with legs, as how they use their legs influence how they use their trunk. After all, everything is all connected.  

Meaningful Movement and Neuroplasticity

Over the years I have come across situations where I taught my clients different movement patterns as a supposedly better alternative to their habitual movement patterns, somehow those new movement patterns never stuck to them.  One day out of blue they started adapting and using the new movement patterns automatically.  I always wondered why that might have occurred.  I wondered if they didn't do their "homework," so they didn't adapt.

One day I was playing with my 7 month old son.  He could roll over pretty well, but couldn't still pull himself forward on the floor, so I put a few toys on the floor, thinking he would try to reach for them and maybe would pull himself forward.  He didn't care enough to even attempt to reach.  Then, he started crying because he was getting hungry.  So I went to grab a bottle and he was staring at the bottle with such excitement.  As soon as I put the bottle on the floor, he quickly rolled over and started pulling himself forward so desperately.  He just learned army crawl!  Just like his father, he LOVES FOOD.  Food is very important for him, more than anything it seems.  Food draws 100% of his nervous system's attention.  His nervous system organizes movement patterns to allow him to accomplish his goal, that is to get to food and eat.  

That's made me think about my clients who adapt to new patterns fast and those who don't.  I think this has a lot to do with whether those movement patterns are perceived as meaningful and salient by the nervous system.  When I say nervous system, I'm talking about what's happening at subconscious level.  I think this is why changing habits is so difficult as it requires a shift at subconscious level, or very strong will power.  And, this is why it's so important to think about functional contexts and meaning around particular movements you're practicing, not just repeating the same movement mindlessly.  

 

Balance

I truly believe in a holistic health/wellness approach.  Healthy eating habits, healthy sleeping habits, healthy exercise habits, and healthy social life.  I think it's all about balance.  Too much of good food or too much exercise can be a bad thing, just as too little of those things can be a bad thing as well.  You can't be healthy physically if your mind is not healthy.  

There is an old Japanese saying: "Yamaiwa kikara," meaning illness starts in the mind.  I've started to understand what this means from a physiological standpoint.  I often see people who eat just healthy food and avoid eating any "bad" food, and exercise regularly yet they often get sick.  One thing I've noticed that those people tend to have a lot of stress in their life (work, family, etc).  

There's autonomic nervous system which consists of parasympathetic nervous system and sympathetic nervous system.  When we're stressed, parasympathetic nervous system slows down and sympathetic nervous system becomes more active.  So they have a yin and yang relationship.  When that happens, our digestive system slows down, heart rate and breathing rate go up, immune system slows down.  The nervous system is now in "fight/flight" mode. This physiological response prepares us for emergency situations.  During those situations, digesting food isn't a priority.  Mobilizing muscles so we can fight or flight is a priority.  This is a very good thing.  However, when someone is chronically stressed, there's a serious problem. Now autonomic nervous system is out of balance.  Immune system and digestive system become suppressed.  When someone is in this state, no matter how well he/she eats, he/she can't get much nutrition out of food.  And, they're much more prone to illnesses due to suppressed immune system.  Changes in physical state often reflect changes in psychological state.  In Aikido, they say physical body is an extension of mental state.

When our body and mind are out of balance and start to act separately, then we start to develop all sorts of problems.  This is why I believe in a holistic health/wellness approach. Mindful movement practice such as Feldenkrais, Tai Chi, Aikido, Yoga, etc is a wonderful way to keep our body and mind in balance.

Chronic Pain: The Vicious Cycle

If you or someone you know are dealing with chronic pain, please read this blog post and share it with other people.  

I've worked with and know many people with chronic pain and their quality of life is negatively affected by pain.  Most of them have tried many things (pain meds, injections, chiro, acupuncture, PT, massage, Yoga, you name it).  Each helped to a certain degree but only for a short period of time.  None resolved their pain.  They were given so many different diagnoses by different health care professionals.  Each time they saw a new healthcare provider, they were given a new diagnosis, and they became more confused about what's going on and they gradually became fearful of movement as they were afraid of causing more damage.  They were in a vicious pain cycle.

This scenario is actually very common in people with chronic pain.  Unfortunately, not all healthcare providers have a good understanding of current pain science.  Since there's a plenty of great resources available, I will not go into details about pain science.  A short video below helps you understand pain.

Why is it important to understand pain?  One of the most common misconception about pain is that pain = tissue damage, and pain is telling our brain that there's a damage.  However, this is not true.  The brain produces pain only when it perceives a threat to the system regardless of tissue damage.  This is why phantom pain, perceptions that an individual experiences related to a limb or organ that is not physically part of the body,  exists.  

In people with chronic pain, their nervous system has become so sensitive that it can perceive even normal stimuli as a threat, thus produce pain easily.  Their pain experience is due to sensitive nervous system, not tissue damage.  In order to get them out of pain cycle, they first need to understand the mechanism of pain.  As long as they still believe that pain = tissue damage, the nervous system continues to stay sensitive and react to movement easily by producing pain. Knowledge is a very powerful therapy that can rewire the brain.  When cognition and understanding about pain change, the nervous system starts to become less sensitized and will not perceive normal stimuli as a threat. Movement is absolutely necessary for recovery, but as long as the brain still perceives movement as a threat, you will continue to experience pain.  This is very important  for me as a movement educator/therapist.  Many clients are dealing with chronic pain, thus, I am very careful about how I use my words as words can influence their cognition/beliefs, which can have either positive or negative effects on the nervous system.  For example, if I frequently use negative words like "broken," "weak," "torn," "out of alignment," etc, then they become more anxious, worried, fearful, and confused, which is perceived as a threat by the nervous system.  The result:  PAIN!  The opposite is also true.  I certainly try to use words to help my clients get out of the vicious cycle of pain.  

Power of Imagination on Rehabilitation and Performance Training

Now imagine yourself on a peaceful beach, relaxing and enjoying a drink.  Next imagine yourself being chased by a police car for whatever reasons.  

Have you noticed any changes in muscle tone and breathing?  Imagining actions involves the brain activities  which will produce physiological changes such as changes in heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, etc.  Try this:  Close your eyes and imagine moving your right big toe up and down without actually moving your big toe.  Notice whether you moved your eyes toward your right big toe.  Even though you didn't move your right big toe, your brain planned a motor action the same was it would to actually move it.  In a way, imagining to doing movements is not that much different from actually doing the movements as far as brain activities are concerned.  

The power of imagination has practical applications.  People with chronic pain typically have sensitized nervous system, which means it has a lower threshold for pain, and more easily produce pain.  In those people, pain is often associated with movement.  The brain can produce pain experience regardless of any actual tissue damage, which is commonly the case for people with chronic pain.  In fact, in more serious cases just imagining to do certain movements associated with pain can actually produce pain even without any movements. However, imagining to do those movements can be used therapeutically to desensitize the nervous system and start to dissociate pain with those particular movements.  Over time as the nervous system becomes less sensitized, a pain threshold will increase, allowing them to move more.  This is one strategy used to get people out of chronic pain cycle.  Very useful.  

The power of imagination is also helpful to improve physical skills.  In fact, many performance artists, martial artists, and athletes utilize this strategy.  I also use this strategy quite often to practice Aikido or sports.  It's also used in the Feldenkrais Method to enhance learning.  From my own experience, I must tell you that it really works.  It's sometimes more effective than actually doing movements.  Next time you practice some skills, try doing whatever movements you're practicing just in your imagination.  See if it helps you learn faster.

Parkinson's Disease and Sensory/Motor Awareness

I'm not going to discuss pathophysiology of Parkinson's Disease (PD) in details here, but I'd like to share my experience of working with people with PD.  

Bradykinesia (slow movement) and Akinesia (muscle rigidity) are common motor symptoms of the disease.  The disease slowly affects movement quality and posture over time.  As people start to move more slowly with smaller range of motion, the nervous system starts to adjust its sensory awareness/perception as the movement changes.  Because this change continues gradually, people may not notice such change, even though it may be apparent to other people's eyes. What will happen is that their sensory awareness becomes so distorted that they perceive their abnormally slow and small movements as being "normal."  When they see other people moving at their regular speed, they don't perceive them as moving faster with larger range of motion than they are.  It's like a thermostat that is off.

PD is often considered as a movement disorder, but to be more precise and accurate, it is a sensory-motor disorder.  Movement and sensation are constantly influencing each other and being updated in the brain.  Areas that you don't use much tend to have poor sensory awareness.  Areas that you use very frequently tend to have good sensory awareness.  How accurately can you sense specific parts of your low back without touching and seeing?  How accurately can you sense your individual fingers?  It's much more clear to sense your fingers, correct?  This is very important when working with people with PD because without changing their sensory-motor awareness/perception (calibrating their thermostat), they are much less likely to change their movement quality because their inaccurate perception tells them they are moving just "normal."

Parkinson's Disease and Early Intervention

I've started working with clients with Parkinson's Disease (PD) recently after I went to a LSVT BIG® certification course.  I was very surprised that only a few physicians refer their Parkinson's patients to exercise programs at early stage of disease.  Many physicians wait until patients' symptoms get much worse and their functions are apparently affected.  Although PD is progressive in nature, research has shown that early intervention can slow the progression of the disease or even reverse it.  Specific exercise program is beneficial at any stage, however, the outcomes are much more promising when it's initiated at very early stage.  

I've worked with people with PD of various stages, and I've seen huge improvements even in people with late stage PD.  One gentleman I worked with was initially wheelchair bound and was not able to stand from wheelchair without someone's assistance and not able to ambulate. After working with him for about 6 weeks, he was able to stand from wheelchair without any assistance, and able to walk with a walker.  This was a big deal for him who couldn't do these things for a long time and never imagined that he would be able to do these things again.  Not only the exercise program helped him to improve his functions, but improved his quality of life so much.  He was quite depressed and didn't have much motivation to do anything when I first saw him, but by the end, he was a completely different person.  

I'm hoping that more people with PD start hearing about benefits of early exercise program and initiate a program as soon as a diagnosis was made, and more physicians become aware of this.    

SLOW DOWN

I have noticed that many people including myself have hard time moving slowly when we exercise. I so often have to remind my clients to slow their movement down many times.  I must admit that I had very very hard time to do that.  It took me a long time to learn that.  

I used to hate walking because it was too slow and boring.  I used to prefer running to walking. In the last few years I've learned the benefits of moving more slowly.  When we move fast, we access movement patterns that have been used many times, called habitual movement patterns.  We use the sub-conscious part of our brain, which responds very fast.  This is useful when we have to move quickly during emergency situations. However, when we're learning new movement patterns, we have to rely on different parts of our brain, conscious part of the brain, which acts much more slowly.  In order to allow us to access this part of the brain, we need to move much much more slowly.  If we move slowly, we won't bypass our sub-conscious part of the brain and inhibit habitual patterns.  This is one of the key principles in my movement re-education.  When someone keeps hurting because of their habitual movement patterns, they need to learn how to move differently.  If they try to move fast when learning to move in a different way, their habitual movement patterns keep interfering.  This is why it's a common practice for Tai Chi and Feldenkrais Method to move very slowly so they can pay attention to how they are moving and they can adjust their movements continuously.  I must tell you that this practice has completely changed the way I move and the way I work with my clients.  I've learned so much about how I move and definitely improved my movement quality.  By the way, the same mechanism applies to thinking, feeling, and sensing.  How we emotionally or intellectually react works much like our movements.  To break your habits, you'll need to SLOW DOWN.

Is Slouching Bad?

I often get asked this question by my clients:  Is slouching bad?  What do you think?  Somehow straight posture is considered ideal, and slouching posture is perceived as bad in out culture.  If you also think straight posture is good and slouching posture is bad, let me ask you why? If we never be allowed to slouch when we sit, we all would be healthier and pain free??  If you think bad posture is related to more pain, literature doesn't seem to agree with you.  We talk about posture a lot, but interestingly enough there's no literature that shows posture is related to pain.  

Let's say straight posture is ideal, so you decide to sit with perfectly straight posture.  How long do you think you can sit still perfectly?  Probably not very long.  After sitting for a long time, what do we do instinctively?  We get up and move, right?  This happens regardless of what position we are in because we're putting pressure on the same places all the time and compromising blood flow to those areas.  Straight posture may provide some advantages from a mechanical standpoint, but if you stay in the same position, you're compromising movement. The same thing for slouching posture.  If you're in the same slouching position, then there's no movement and stress is constantly placed on the same areas, even more in some areas than in straight posture.  Then you have exactly the same problem.  What would be healthier for our body is to create a habit of changing our positions frequently or moving frequently so we're distributing stress more evenly.  For this reason, I really emphasize creating more movement options so we don't get stuck in only one movement pattern.  

 

What is Feldenkrais Method®?

 

Click HERE for the description of the method by Feldenkrais.com.

You probably still have no idea what Feldenkrais Method is about after reading the description.  Let me share my experience.   About 6 years ago I was getting a bit frustrated at work as patients kept returning to us for similar problems (e.g., shoulder impingement, low back pain, neck pain, patello-femoral knee syndrome, etc).  I thought we did a pretty good job of teaching our patients about how to strengthen/stretch some muscles to solve their problems, yet they returned to us after a year maybe 2 years. I thought I "fixed" the problems by strengthening weak muscles and stretching tight muscles to restore their imbalance, but they apparently didn't get "fixed."   This observation made me very curious as to what's really the root of their problems.   Upon my research I found Feldenkrais Method several times.  The first time I saw the name, I didn't pay much attention.  After having seen the name several times, I had to do more research about it.  I read his books and read some articles, but I still didn't know what it was.  The only thing I knew was it had something to do with changing habits.  I thought habitual way of moving/using ourselves was the root of many problems my patients had.  One day I saw a weekend Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement workshop, and I decided to attend to experience it for myself.  My first experience was "Wow!! I don't feel pain anywhere in my body!!"  I always had some pain but I was so used to having pain that I forgot I had pain until my pain was gone.  I felt much taller and my body felt so much lighter and felt as if the gravity decreased.  The effect after my very first Awareness Through Movement lesson was so profound.  During the lesson I discovered how one body part connected to another body part and how they could work together to decrease stress on one part and distribute it to the whole body.  As a result, it felt so much easier to move.  I also discovered my movement habits, which of course I wasn't aware of until then.  My movement habits just like the majority of other people were such that I wasn't distributing work very well throughout my whole body.  At this moment I knew I found what I have been searching for.  This really allows us to discover the root of many problems (physical as well as psychological) we may be having and also discover new options so we don't get stuck in our habits.  Habits are useful as long as you know they are.  However, habits can sometimes create problems when we are not aware of them.  As Moshe Feldenkrais (the creator of Feldenkrais Method) said, "if you know what you are doing, you can do what you want."  

What is "Good Posture?"

I often get comments from my clients that I have a "perfect posture."  I always ask them what the "perfect posture" means, and many say it's perfectly straight.  So, straight posture=good posture??  From a perspective of Feldenkrais Method it is a place from which you can initiate action in any direction with minimal preparation.  You're basically ready to move any direction from ideal posture.  You're not holding tension and staying rigid.  I think people tend to confuse posture with position.  Position is static.  Posture is dynamic.  Posture is action.  Ideal posture should allow you to move more responsively.  In contrast, if you're rigid and holding yourself as straight as you can, you may appear to have a good posture, but you won't be able to move as quickly.  Not only that, you are straining muscles as you're making a lot of effort to maintain such a state.  Masters of Tai Chi or Aikido all demonstrate great posture if you watch them.  They're ready for actions.  They are not tense.  As a general rule, a good posture should never feel uncomfortable or tiring.  Awareness Through Movement class will give you an experience of what it feels to have "good posture" that feels natural and authentic.  

Team Play

If you ever played a team sport, you know how important it is that each player contributes to a game to make a great team, right?  Even you have a very talented player on your team, it's very unlikely that your team will be good if only that one player works hard on the field/court.  This same principle applies to our movements.  For example, I worked with many clients with neck pain.  They had neck pain when they looked up or turned their head to look behind.  Most of the time they were mostly using their neck to orient head with very little movement in other parts of their body like mid back, shoulders/shoulder blades, ribs, hips, etc.  The neck was the only player contributing to the work, sort of, while other players were hanging out and watching the neck doing all hard work.  No wonder the neck got sore!!  Neck pain, low back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, you name it, but it's very common that people violate the team play principle.  This is one of many principles taught in Feldenkrais Method & Martial Arts (Tai Chi Chuan, Aikido, Judo, etc).  Check out my Awareness Through Movement classes & one-on-one Movement Re-education session to work on your "Team Play" skill!

Product vs Process

In Feldenkrais Method, we learn how to create optimal learning conditions for our clients or create safe conditions for the nervous system so learning can take place organically.  We focus on creating a process that leads to their learning as opposed to giving them end products.  I believe learning occurs in the "process" of doing something instead of trying to achieve a "goal.".  Learning is not in the end products.  For example, a child works on a jigsaw puzzle for the first time, and h/she is given the final picture beforehand.  H/she knows exactly what h/she is going to get while putting together all pieces.  Another child doesn't know the end product and works on the same puzzle.  It may take a longer time for the second person to finish the puzzle, but what h/she will gain in terms of problem solving skills is much more than just finishing the puzzle. This analogy also applies to motor learning.  In typical exercise classes an instructor shows the end product then students will mimic the instructor.  Another example is that I have no sense of direction and so often I get lost, and also discovery new cool places by accident.  If I had known how to get to my destination precisely, I would not have found those cool places. In Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement classes, a teacher purposefully hide a destination (this sounds kind of mean, but we're not) to create a process where students will explore and discover something that they wouldn't if they knew the destination ahead of the time.

Let's get lost in Awareness Through Movement classes to discover something!

Corrective exercise

As a healthcare professional, I was heavily trained in anatomy, kinesiology, and biomechanics and taught to assess movements/posture and identify dysfunctions/impairments then prescribe corrective exercises to "fix" their problems. Biomechanical ideals are just the average across population, and in reality everyone is so different structurally and functionally. "Average" doesn't mean correct.  Similarly below the average doesn't make it wrong either.  Who decided human beings should move certain ways??  No other animals learn movements from "experts."  I find this very interesting.  Babies/kids don't learn movements the same way we adults do.  How do babies learn to move?  Do they even care about learning movement?  They are just curious about the environment and exploring with their mouth and hands.  Curiosity drives them to explore lots of different movements so they can reach for a toy and bring it to their mouth.  Movements emerge out of these explorations. Adults don't often learn in this manner.  One big disadvantage of corrective exercise is that you could potentially eliminate your authentic movements which some experts call "wrong" movements and are forced to "correct" your movements, which may be "wrong."  In my opinion, no movements are wrong or right.  Even what experts consider ideal movements can be wrong if they're the only movement option available.  What's more beneficial is to expand movement options.  The nervous system is smart enough to figure out what's best in each situation given it has many options.  In my movement education sessions, I guide my students to explore a variety of movement options as opposed to "correcting" their movements.