Friday, June 11, 2010

Posture and the Bonsai Tree


The ancient Japanese art form of growing Bonsai trees is fascinating. I’m sure you heard about these trees along time ago in the movie, “Karate Kid”. Well Bonsai trees are essentially normal shrubs that have been consistently stressed in a particular way for a long time to create a posture which would never be found in nature.

Depending on how the tree is stressed while it grows, it may end up looking like a miniature version of a full-sized tree, or it may end up looking like a wild tangle of branches with twists and loops. To most people, "good posture" simply means sitting and standing up straight. Few of us realize the importance of posture to our health and performance.

The human body craves alignment. When we are properly aligned, our bones, NOT our muscles, support our weight, reducing effort and strain. The big payoff with proper posture is that we feel healthier, have more energy, and move more gracefully. So while the word "posture" may conjure up images of book-balancing charm-school girls, it is NOT just about standing up straight. It’s about being aware of and connected to every part of your self.

Posture ranks right up at the top of the list when you are talking about good health. It is as important as eating right, exercising, getting proper rest and avoiding potentially harmful substances like alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.

Good posture is a way of doing things with more energy, less stress and fatigue. Without good posture, you cannot really be physically fit. Without good posture, you can actually damage your spine “every time” you exercise.

Ideally, our bones in the spine stack up one upon the other: the head rests directly on top of the spine, which sits directly over the pelvis, which sits directly over the knees and ankles.

But if you spend hours every day sitting in a chair, if you hunch forward or balance your weight primarily on one leg, the muscles of your neck and back have to carry the weight of the body rather than it being supported by the spine.

The resulting tension and joint pressure can affect you not only physically, but emotionally, too, -- from the predictable shoulder, back, and neck pain to headaches, allergies, and a depressed immune system.

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