Many of us over the years have heard dozens of different ways to gain better posture. Some of these ways were through relatives and friends pressuring us, our doctor reminding us, or by our own bent over reflection staring back at us.
I would like to share with you a wonderful way to gain and keep good posture, and in order to do this, I must share a little bit of my background with you.
Though in the fitness world, I am known as the Wizard of Youth, the truth is I have severe scoliosis of the spine. I must work on my posture every day because my spine is crooked. If I do not do my exercises, within a day or two, one shoulder blade pops out and won’t move back into alignment on its own. And if I wait a week or two, one pants leg becomes shorter than another. So I know the lack of freedom that poor posture can bring intimately.
Here’s the sad truth about the spine most of us don’t consider: Gravity will win unless we make a conscious choice to exercise against it. Granted, I received the wakeup call earlier than most, yet all of us sooner or later, will become down and round unless we make ourselves long and strong.
When I finally learned how to straighten out my spine in my early twenties, I went off and did something I’d always wanted to do, ballroom dance. I had a difficult time. Yet through the patience of some wonderful teachers I persevered. One of the best coaches I ever worked with was a man named John Swick, a former champion dancer. He was and still is a wonderful man and mentor. One of his favorite quotes on posture was this:
“Forget everything you’ve ever heard about how to stand up straight, and just remember this, Lift up your posture by pretending to Lift Up Your Ears first…” This is because when we relax the back and just concentrate on lifting your ears up tall first, our back and shoulders will then have the room and space to go where they should go.
Too many of us lift our chest up, or pull our shoulders back, or tuck our hips under. (I was even told to pretend I was holding a nickel in my rear end to straighten my back out- and a doctor told me this!) Yet, nothing will happen if this twenty plus pound object- our head- is pushing and pulling our posture down. This is similar to the rule of pretending you have string on the top of your head pulling you up.
Here’s how I have adopted Mr. Swicks amazing rule into my work:
Lifting the Ears, Takes off Years!
If we lift our ears up (in our minds), our head goes up, our chest can then come up, our tummy can go up and in, and our back (with its natural curves) can go where it needs to go.
Okay, you’ve been waiting for the secret that will make you look 20+ younger haven’t you? There is nothing like a little vanity to help with exercise. I believe if you’re going to go to all the trouble, shouldn’t you look good as well? Here it is. Please follow these directions carefully and do exactly what I am telling you.
While you’re reading this, ideally while sitting, please lift your ears up tall.
Now lift them even higher
And lift them even higher…
Do you have any idea how much younger you look right now? Let me tell you why: When you pull up as tall as you can, especially your head area, what do you think happens to all the skin on your neck? It gets stretched up and many of those wrinkles and lose skin is pulled tight! This alone can take about 20 years off your face because now the neck and chin skin is pulled off your face, giving you a mini face lift.
Did you really think, with your head dropped down, and your neck getting forced outward and puffing out your face that you looked young? You didn’t. Lifting the Ears Takes off Years, helps your posture, your balance, your breathing, and gives you a smaller waist and a younger face. Not bad for one movement!
Till next time, all my blessings and love from the Wizard of Youth.
John Paul Ouvrier, is a fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults. He is the author of ‘The Wizard of Youth’ series for adults and children, the creator of ‘The Wizard of Youth 4 Kids Board Game’ and the Executive Director of Fitness For Charity. His websites are: http://wizardofyouth.com. & http://fitness4charity.org. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org