Bowspring is part of a postural revolution! The body is a fluid, not a solid structure. This view challenges the standard model of alignment for yoga, modern fitness and the medical world. Instead of thinking of good posture as linear, static and stable, Bowspring is curvy, dynamic, and fluid.
The Postural Revolution is here!
When you ask anyone to show you good posture standing or sitting, they typically straighten up--root their tail, suck in their abs, lift their chest and lengthen the back of their neck. This model of ‘good posture’ has been culturally taught to us as the most widely accepted paradigm of ‘correct’ postural alignment in western society for at least the last 150 years. It is a deep meme within Western culture that a straighter spine reflects a posture of dignity, elegance and refinement. Since Victorian times, an elevated social position, particularly that of royalty, was thought to be well presented through an upright, regal posture. Members of the economic upper class with a privileged education were schooled in cultural etiquette including embodying a more erect and ‘proper’ posture. The way one would stand or sit in public reflected their education and even moral character. The long lines of a Ballet dancer and the ramrod straight spine of a soldier are both a conscious flattening of the spine and torso. This is all an attempt to show power and graceful beauty to others, according to society’s leading model of good posture. Clean straight lines of the body’s outer form have dominated the cultural mindset for optimal posture throughout our modern times. However, in 2016 this linear alignment, which has dominated the postural paradigm in the western world for the last few centuries, is now being questioned.
Questioning the standard model of alignment:
Do the bones of the body really hold us up?
Do the vertebrae and other bones of the body really need to be stacked vertically in order to reduce compression?
Why are we still considering the body more of solid, compressive structure than a visco-elastic form?
Why do we tuck our tail and our chin, and tighten our belly when we are afraid?
Why are we still reinforcing and supplementing the contraction of the front of the body and a stretching of the back of the body in modern postural systems, like yoga and pilates, when this is the most common alignment of our sedentary modern lifestyle? How can this alignment be balancing for the spectrum of our daily posture?
Throughout the 20th century ‘good posture’ was considered to be a vertical stacking of the head, shoulders, chest, waist, and pelvis when sitting, and also vertical over the knees and feet when standing. Postural and biomechanical experts thought it to be scientifically smart to stack the segment in the vertical like bricks in a tower to reduce shearing forces of gravity. Soft spinal curves were advocated in the neck, upper back, and lower back so there wasn’t rigidity in the balanced posture. In order to decompress the vertebral disks and give the healthiest alignment, the spine was elongated by stretching its two ends apart. Specifically, the tailbone was drawn downward and the top of the head was extended upward.
The standard model of postural alignment is the basis of most physical therapy in the world today. The most common musculo-skeletal injuries are treated therapeutically by applying the standard model’s alignment principles. A classic example is how the standard model deals with lower back pain due to postural misalignment, specifically at the top of the sacrum and the lower lumbar (S1-L5). The primary culprit for back pain in the standard model view is excessive curvature. In the lower back, this hyper-lordosis is often referred to as ‘swayback’. Consequently, a popular postural remedy for lower back misalignment is to strength the abdominals and shorten the front of the body in order to decompress the lower back. By reducing the curvature of the lower back and tightening and shortening the front side¾the belly¾the alignment would move more toward the upright, linear template. Furthermore, instruction to draw the glutes downward to lengthen the tailbone down and to open up the lower back is considered standard by today’s postural experts.
Now in the 21st century there are new postural ideas emerging which deviate from the standard alignment model. Instead of vertically stacking all sections of the spine and the main segments of the head and torso, there is now a growing movement behind the idea of tipping the pelvis forward and increasing the curvature the lower back. At least three main postural systems today--Gokhale method, YogAlign, and Foundations training--promote an anterior tilt to the pelvis, which increases lumbar curvature so the back of the body can be more fully engaged. When the posterior chain of myofascia is more actively engaged in a posture, there is heightened functionality and increased therapeutic value throughout the spine. In contrast, the straighter spine of the old postural model reflects a tightening of the front, and a disengagement of the muscles and connective tissue on the back of the body. When the posture is straighter up and down, the active tonus on the front and the back of the body is not balanced.
Tipping the pelvis forward and curving the lower back for a more balanced posture is part of an emergent paradigm in alignment. Straight lines are being replaced with curves and flowing spirals of movement and dynamic form of the body. Dynamic stretching is being emphasized over static stretching. A somatically open posture like a “power pose”--the front of the body wide open and the arms triumphantly stretching up and apart in the shape of a V--is being lauded by Harvard scientist, Amy Cuddy for giving mo