How to get your body back to its proper alignment.
Over time, it’s easy for your body’s alignment to fall out of its ideal position. After days of hunching over a laptop or a baby, walking in heels or exercising without aligning your body properly in relationship to gravity, your muscles and connective tissue will repeatedly stress the joints and can even change the shape of your bones. “After a while, this kind of misalignment can lead to loss of vital energy, pain and illness,” says Leslie Clayton, Pilates master instructor and owner of Body Awareness Studio in Sandy Springs. While it’s always a good idea to see a health care provider to rule out something more serious if you’re already experiencing discomfort, becoming more aware of the body’s ideal alignment is a good step toward preventing and alleviating pain.
Discover Your Plumb Line
The “plumb line” posture is best for your body. This is when your ear, the side of your shoulder, center of your rib cage, center of the pelvis and center of the knee are over the front or side of your ankle. “When you’re in your plumb line, your nervous system is going to relax. You’ll have more ease of movement. It’s easier to breathe,” Clayton says.
Be More Aware
Start discovering your plumb line by becoming more conscious of how you are positioning your body and the gravitational forces moving through it. Modify your alignment as needed to achieve the plumb line posture. “Awareness is the key to correcting your posture. You can begin to feel when you’re centered or off center. When centered, the nervous system comes into balance, we move with more ease, and the body can self-regulate from the effects of stress,” says Clayton.
Please Be Seated
An exercise Clayton suggests to find and strengthen awareness of your plumb line is similar to a seated version of yoga’s cat and cow postures: Using a chair, have a seat on top of your sit bones with feet balanced on the floor, relaxed thighs and neutral pelvis. Place hands on top of thighs, with upper arm bones positioned to the outer edges of your shoulders and look straight ahead. Roll slightly to the front and back of your sit bones until you can feel where the center is. Next, begin to move your core: Exhale and roll the bowl of your pelvis backwards, which makes the sit bones narrow and pelvic floor lift. Look down to feel your spine curl like a cat’s. Inhale and roll to the front of your sit bone while your eyes and chest look up, then extend the spine and arch the back. Repeat for three to five breaths. “Finish by sitting in your new awareness of the center for a minute or two,” suggests Clayton.
It can help to work with a fitness coach to find your proper alignment and learn to feel for it. With practice and awareness, over time, your body will come back into its plumb line naturally.
STORY: Vanessa Pascale Rust
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