When you have correct posture, your body efficiently resists gravity in the least stressful way on your physiological and structural systems. Posture is typically thought of as a static and statue-like position. How boring! In truth, posture is dynamic in nature, and managing it is a constant interplay between your moving body and the things you do with your body. Maintaining proper alignment while moving is a challenging balancing act. To have better posture in motion, you must keep your body correctly poised within each movement to minimize the friction on your joints. In other words, activity is not pulling you out of good aligned posture— whether it’s walking, bending over to pick up the newspaper, lifting weights, running, cycling, or doing yoga.
Good standing posture looks like this:
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Excerpted from The Roll Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility, and Live Better in Your Body by Jill Miller. Copyright © 2014 by Jill Miller. Excerpted by permission of Victory Belt Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.
This is a great poster with to the point info to show people how to maintain a good posture!
Great and useful picture. Will definitely re-post this, thanks! Applies to everyone:)
This body map guide has helped me as I prepared my Tadasana teaching. Good posture is the first step to living happily in your body!
such great pointers. this article really spoke to me when it talks about posture while moving – i have to be more mindful so I’m not wearing down my body. posture is more than the static stance.
Excellent! We often take posture for granted…or we forget that “good posture” is not automatic. Just because we are standing upright does NOT mean we have good posture! For several years I taught a Pilates-based class for St. Mary’s college dance department and I always included 2-3 days of “posture education” for the students. They were AMAZED at how bad their posture actually was and how GOOD it felt to truly “stand up straight”. Thank you!
Being conscious about our posture and the way we move in space is really interesting! When I first started to connect with my own body I understood so many things. Like why I had repetitive inflammation in my shoulders because of a bad habit and not keeping a good alignement when my shoulders were in flexion. Many many years later I Yoga teacher took pictures of me to show me how I was standing on my feet. I was shocked! I looked like if the wind was pushing me in the back! Imagine all that pressure in the front of my feet and the compensations my whole body! I still have some work to do to correct imbalances in my body but I am on the right path! So thank you for your blog and let’s share all this information about dynamic posture!!! It is so important!!!
The concept of posture as something dynamic is helpful to me. After having my baby 10 months ago, I’ve sometimes struggled to find postural alignment. At various times, I’ve felt thrown off by the changes in my abdominal muscles and the movements of cradling, breastfeeding, picking up, and holding my baby. Sometimes I’ve let my mind think I’ve “lost” alignment, or that my posture “should” be better. I know that being a less judgmental observer of my body and approaching postural alignment as a constant process will be more helpful to me physically and mentally.
Practicing good posture like this makes me feel resilient and far more able to handle load or find balance again if i’m thrown off.
Love the bit about breathing into the torso in all directions – that’s an easy one for people to forget about.
Yes! It’s a great reminder that ” hold it like a statue” posture is actually very active alignment maintenance. The Foundation of many asanas- Tadasana- may seem like “just standing” but it combines so many DOMs at the same time: our hip joints are externally and internally rotating, as well as adducting and abducting is performing. So we have to discover all 4 to find it in 1 !
Thank you Jill, so simple yet so complicated. Found my self walking and making sure to go down the list to see if my posture was good. Will relate to my clients of the important of Good Posture.
Thank you for pointing out that good posture is DYNAMIC in nature and follows you with each movement!! As you mentioned most think of it as a static position, mainly while standing or sitting!
I need to work on not pinning my shoulders back !
Thanks! I needed that! My posture is typically poor. I have to constantly remind myself to stand up or sit up straight. I fear that in my older years I will end up with some type of posture problem. I love the info-graph, it’s a great visual to have.
In massage school, I learned the word tensegrity, which is a structural principle based on the use of isolated components in compression inside a net of continuous tension much like the way muscles pull on bones to keep them in a certain position. It is also called floating compression. Good posture is more than just a look, it is also a feel; and it feels like floating.
Growing up nobody really teaches us how to stand correctly – and then life happens to us the results of which we subsequently carry in our tissues. It might seem boring to practice standing in good alignment (Tadasana) but it can be a very challenging pose for some of us, especially when held for longer periods of time.
I appreciate the approach to posture as a dynamic process. I was reading a study the other day that demonstrated how we present slight variations in the way we stand every time we come back to standing still. All of the points provided here are important in any movement or activity and I can see how any movement or activity will have an impact on how we stand still.
As I read this post, I recall how when I was supine at training last weekend and I thought I was in alignment, I was not, not by a long shot. And when I was placed into ‘correct posture’ – I felt off kilter and not in what my body sensed as optimal. I am curious to explore more how body blind spots function in relation to posture and how I can cue this in myself without looking at my reflection.
Thank you, Jill! I may just include this in my confirmation emails to my clients so that they are reminded of it often.
I need to hang this up in my studio so everyone can get a quick and easy reference and body check in.
Posture is so crucial! It’s one of the easiest ways to positively affect our pain patterns and yet it’s like pulling teeth to actually motivate change in this regard. I feel like at least half of my massage clients glaze over when I start talking about postural changes, like their thinking, “yeah, that’s not gonna happen”. Your section in the Roll Model book about healthy posture versus junk food posture was a game changer for me. I never considered it that way, but it clicked immediately and was the stimulus I needed to change some of my bad habits. Thank you!
Good posture is the foundation to good health and much more! Posture affect the way you look, feel, and move. If you walk into a room and you’re not sure which person in the room has poor posture, it’s most likely you. If you’re not assessing, you are guessing. Remember, not everyone will notice your posture, but the person you want to impress, will.
I love this infographic– there are many different definitions on how to stand up “straight”, but many are rigid and not anatomically aligned like this one, which is why I love YTU! I love the reminder that “posture is dynamic in nature” and that we must be cognizant of where we hold ourselves in different relationships to gravity. More infographics in different poses could be a really interesting additional blog post!
Its amazing how a poor posture turns comfortable so quickly and that becomes the new normal. One important thing I learned in YTU level 1 training was, a poor posture in some cases may need to be corrected slowly. The ripple affect of the tissue moved too quickly can cause intermediate pain while the proper posture becomes the new normal.
Great graphic! The more I’ve learned about proper posture and alignment, I’ve become more aware of my tendencies with my own posture. When standing, I tend to shift more weight into my left hip, and hang out in the lateral end of the hip joint socket. Also, I always stand with my right foot turned out in external rotation. I quickly try and fix this, and try and check in with the direction of my feet when I’m standing. After some consideration, I realize that one predisposition for my right foot turning out would be driving; I have size 12 feet, and my feet are too big to keep my foot vertical on the foot pedal, so I just push with my toes, and have my right foot turned out to the side. This constant position in driving has become “comfortable” for me, and compiled over 12 years of driving, countless hours, and roadtrips – this has resulted in my habitual external rotation at the hip and turning out of the foot.
When I practiced proper posture it was rigid and static which of course got co-created into my cells. The untrained eye saw a good posture but I was stiff and forced and definitely not breathing properly. At some point during my YTU training I began to move from a proper posture insted of forcing my body to look like a certain posture and losing my core and myself. I also like how ribs over hips are taught in YTU which further keeps you in your center
Thank you for this graphic! I would like to have it handy at all times as a reference, for me as well as my yoga students and massage clients! As we all run around during these potentially stressful (!!!) holidays, this is a good reminder and checklist!
You always hear about how important good posture is but until you really see the effects of bad posture (pain or injury) it’s not really heard. I cross my legs while sitting, lean to one side while standing and even look in the mirror while lifting weights. Knowing what I know now I really need to break these bad habits for good.
That’s a great reminder of tune up Tadasana. It is so important to stand with optimal posture and dignity. We forgot how much it affect the breathing patterns. Thank you for the visual!
I learnt the YTU Tadasana today on the first day of my TYU L1 training, I was so excited to have learnt using external/internal rotation of the shoulders and hips, and abduction and adduction of shoulders and hips to activate the muscles surrounding these joints, I can’t wait to share this information with others!
Can you comment on the placement of feet for those with tibial torsion? Thanks!
Two thumbs up for the simple yet helpful visual. It’s easy to see why the Yoga Tune Up world is making strides, and being good at standing still! Thanks.
Posture awareness is expanding! Love the work on letting the arms hang.
Jill, I love the arms hanging by the sides. As a yoga student and teacher, we are so often cueing to externally rotate the arms and retracting the shoulders. As a rib popper, this has been difficult to maintain good posture over the years. Thank you for the visual!!
This infographic is so very helpful and I will be printing out for my reference. I appreciate that the feet shown as 8-12 inches apart. The instructions for tadasana are often to place feet and heels together. This often causes eversion in my feet and issues to my posture, so I often open the feet up a few inches. Good to know that I can go a bit wider now!
Tune up Tadasana is not like Tadasana. 🙂 I so appreciate your approach to alignment and the creativity of language that you use to take old and sometimes tired ways of verbalizing this pose. I too like your graphic and its easy 6 points. I know its an exhaustive list, but I find this one to be easy to remember while covering some essential pieces. Particularly the breath. Often when focused on getting our parts in the right place we forget to breath and make this “dynamic” stance, stiff and militaristic. Thank you for making Tadasana a pose of interest and importance, its crucial as it informs so many other ways in which we move.
This is a handy graphic to check in with yourself from time to time or give to clients to check in.
I learned something through YTU that I have never realized before: my upper ribs jut. Not in a grotesque way, by any means, but enough. And it’s a result of “good posture,” the kind you get when standing up straight means jamming your chest forward, yanking your shoulder blades together behind your back (my poor rhomboids), and maybe sticking your booty out a little. Wow. Not good posture. Which I realized when the YTU teacher said to line up my xyphoid process with my public bone. What? Yes. Do it. Because it releases your rhomboids and the other upper back muscles that have been tensing to hold your “good posture.” Because it tucks in those upper ribs so that they don’t jut. But, in my opinion, mostly do it because you will be able to take a full breath. Your rib cage will naturally expand circumferentially, instead of just forward and out. You will start to breathe into your back! For me, this has resulted in a profoundly freeing sensation, like I’ve been unstuck. Also, I can sit in a meditation posture without my back screaming at me after 30 seconds. And sit up straight at my desk without that happening. Amazing.
Love the infographic! Will be sharing this post with friends and family. Seeing it broken down shows me how I need awareness in 1, 3 and 5. I have some work to do. Even a yoga teacher, I’m guilty of compensating for poor posture by going to the ” military”. Learning about laterally rotating shoulders without retraction of scapula has been so helpful. Pin the arms on the yogi!
Thanks a lot Jill, this post really bring me back to my alignment, I had so much trouble getting the # 3 done properly and I still have some issues with my feet alignment but getting so much better.. thanks for correcting me at almost ech time during the YTU training aand thanks to the assisstants also. Posture makes so much a difference…
Great info graphic. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. It would be interesting to have posters geared to students emphasizing posture as well as one showing the negative effects of texting with their head forward.
Poster problems are so common nowdays. sometimes i start the class asking all the student to stand to the wall and try to press them self to the wall as much as they can from heels calf, gluts, back, shoulders and had. keep this poster and walk. they feel so unnatural like they walk as robots, but this is the posture they should have! just the are absolutely not used to it
I had a yoga teacher that was so frantic about alignment that he would do hands on adjustments on my alignment on some poses but without telling me how to do it, just moving my body to the “right” alignment. It was torture, I felt all tense but compelled to hold it no matter what as I’ve always been a “good” student. After class instead of feeling relaxed and empowered I felt tense, tight and overwhelmed with the idea that I would never achieve any pose alignment correctly. Then, when I did my Yoga Teacher training i had the fortune to be trained by a teacher that gave me the hows, the whys, the whats, how movement should be done and how you should feel it to achieve a better posture/alignment on a yoga pose. Now, after meeting you I’ve take that knowledge a bit further, taking the why, how, what of a movement to my everyday life by being conscious about how I move – and what’s going on on my body while I do it – to improve my performance on everyday things to prevent my body from injury. I am definitely want to teach my yoga students a more rounded way of doing yoga, on the mat and off the mat so they can improve their posture and movement all day long, not just at a yoga class.
Good infographic. lately I stand while I am working in front of the computer and my posture is much better while standing than sitting and slouching. Its kind of a reminder for me to stay straight and improve my poture.
I had a yoga teacher tell me that my head moving forward when I speak was “gross” and to stop doing it immediatly. As a student of my body I was offended and decided the best way I could honor this teaching in my life was to no longer view this particular teacher as my teacher and instead began to explore my posture and why I do what I do. I went to a Rolfer and the Rolfer showed me how I walked – in exaggeration (to really drive the point home I suppose) Even after the sessions in my best attempt to do nothing to agravate or slip into old patterning) I couldn’t sustain their best efforts to tame my (what I now was almost ashamed of) unruly posture. As you mention Jill, being a statue is so boring! I was made to move and I craved being able to once again work with gravity to maximize my energy and once again enjoy the things I loved doing with my body in a way that didn’t feel over laboring… It wasn’t until I took your teacher training that I discovered that the very thing I went to to heal my body was now the thing that was harming it. I went from strong and stable to loose and distorted. I quit my strengthening in order to not reduce my flexability. I am now on the road to mending. Litterally today – I strolled out of a Yoga Tune Up class and felt for the first time in a long time – confident that I can embody my body in a new way! I actually felt that I had released so many of those judgments from so many “well meaning” teachers and therapist and replaced those shameful moments with an empowered acceptance. Thank you Jil.
i totally agree, and love it when Jill said in her level 1 Cert. class “feet under your lungs”. relax your shoulders, head over your rib cage. Having good posture,helps you breath better, prevent from hunching over as you get older.
Thanks for posting this. The whole book is great, but this ne graphic speaks volumes. I like that you included that it may take some muscular energy to keep ribs over hips.
Thank you for including the glutes! I had created much instability in my pelvis and SI joint by turning off my glutes for years. Now I’m trying to get my ‘rear back into gear’!
The challenge is undoing years of bad posture. Habitually moving in an unhealthful way every day for years leaves deep imprints that are not easily realized. When finally realized and corrected, good posture feels foreign. Even if you can maintain good posture on the mat, taking it into the world, being as mindful as in a yoga class and not slipping back to the old pattern is difficult.
I like that you said it’s Dynamic. people do not need to fear walking around like a robot afraid to move out of “correct” posture. This is so important! Thanks Jill for sharing all your wisdom and experience. 🙂
I agree – standing isn’t just about doing nothing with your body but a great opportunity to keep improving one’s posture. Tadasana is great because it also requires activating the knees and keeping them healthy so we can flex, extend and rotate them to move our legs.
I love the idea of posture as a dynamic movement. I do believe it’s also helpful to evaluate clients’ posture in the transverse plane. I know I constantly struggle with a left hip that is rotated a bit forward and thus feel some significant muscular disparity in the pelvis region.
I really wish I had this posture. Years of mad biomechanics have left a dreadful toll. Her shoulders look a bit more droopy than neutral, but thats coming from someone who can’t get anywhere near even that hypothetical neutral. no se.
I love breaking down Tadasana – there’s A LOT to do even while appearing to just be standing still. This graphic was a very helpful reminder on all the different components that make up good posture, particularly that it’s dynamic rather than static. Sometimes the things that seem simplest can actually be the most challenging! Thanks for the great post!
I love the immediate effect this blog post had on me — I sat up straighter while reading it an my too-low-laptop height. I wholeheartedly agree that “posture” is not some boring, static thing, but something alive. As a result, the opportunity for good posture is available to us in each moment as we engage with life. Thank you, Jill.
Great reminder! I am a big sloucher and my spine is very flexible from doing gymnastics for years. I have horrible posture. For me, the biggest one is to open my chest and engage my back muscles, standing up tall or sitting tall at my desk. Additionally, I tell myself to pull in my core a bit as I tend to stick my abdomen out when propping myself on my hip at times.
This is a great reminder that standing is an active position! I tend to stand with an anterior tilt in my pelvis and slightly protracted shoulders, particularly when my 11-month old is catching a ride in her sling. From every day activities to working out (whether it be yoga, running, or weight lifting), it’s important to remember your posture is the foundation for injury-free activity.
This is so important, like you said, it’s the baseline for foundational strength, but most people, like breathing, don’t pay attention to their posture. A great thing to keep in mind and know how to break down. And I would love to hear #6 expounded upon as well. Thank you!
Agree except 6 can be misunderstood by some. I once had a patient come in for piriformis syndrome because she was told to squeeze her glutes all the time. Granted, common sense sometimes eludes some but would it be better to focus more on the position of the pelvis vs the “activate glute” part. I understand but for others who aren’t health professionals it may be taken out of context. Thanks!
It’s amazing how once you can identify “good” posture, you can’t turn that lens off and see “bad” posture everywhere!
Thanks for mentioning #6!
Both the gluteus maximus and medius are strong extensors and abductors of the hip, so you need to activate these muscles (as in 6) . The fibers of these muscles are also active in pulling the femur in multiple directions, so awareness and activation also helps with 3.
I was with you until 6.
Thanks for mentioning the gluteal muscles, lets give this psoas some help.