WHY WORKING IN WEIRD PLACES & BAD POSTURE KILLS YOUR QI
And How To Fix It
Have you ever seen a candid picture of yourself where you thought you were standing up straight but you actually look like Quasimodo’s cousin?
All the time we spend sitting at our laptops, hunched over our phones, and curled up in front of the TV tends to give us pretty bad posture. And unflattering photos aren’t even the worst thing about having bad posture. According to Harvard Health, poor posture can cause back pain, neck problems, heartburn, and even constipation. And if you follow Eastern medicine, you know having slouchy posture can seriously mess up your Qi.
When your Qi is wonky or deficient, you might get sick more often, be fatigued, or feel depressed and anxious. Of course, bad posture isn’t the only thing that can disrupt your Qi–our Qi naturally decreases as we get older, and a busy, stressed-out lifestyle can lower our Qi levels as well. But, posture is definitely a big contributor to our Qi flow, as well as our generally physical health and comfort. Good posture is essential to allowing oxygen to nourish your tissues.
By fixing your posture, you can say goodbye to back pain and hello to healthy Qi flow.
Posture and TCM
This might sound weird, but think of your body as a garden hose. It doesn’t need to be entirely straight for water to pass throughout it, but if it’s really bent then only a trickle of water will be able to flow.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the “water” that flows through your “hose” is Qi. If you want it to keep flowing, you have to keep things (mostly) straight. Like with a hose, there’s some room for bedding and moving. According to TCM, good posture isn’t about standing up stick-straight with your knees locked and your muscles tensed. Forget about military posture, because it’s not comfortable and it’s not natural.
Instead, good posture is all about putting as little strain on your muscles and ligaments as possible. Unnatural posture puts too much stress on certain areas of the body and causes long-term harm. Natural, good posture should be like your body’s default resting place. It’s where your body is aligned, centered, and comfortable.
Think about Tai Chi, the traditional martial arts style that emphasizes flow and balance. Like in Tai Chi, your everyday movements should be fluid and relaxed, and good posture can help you achieve that.
When your posture is more centered and natural, your body will look and feel better. This is partly because your muscles won’t be under so much strain, and partly because your Qi will be able to flow as freely as water flows through an un-kinked hose. That means you’ll have more energy, get sick less often, and even sleep better!
Ready to fix your posture and get your Qi flowing? Here are some tips to get you started.
How To Fix Your Posture And Get Your Qi Flowing
Sit Right (Or Not At All)
Did you know you do something everyday–often for more than 8 hours–that can make you gain weight, mess up your muscles, and even make you more likely to get cancer?
Strange as it may sound, sitting for as long as most people do every day just might be killing us–or at least making our health worse.
And while sitting in general is bad for us, sitting in a less-than-ergonomic office chair or hunching over a laptop is even worse. So if you’re going to be sitting all day, at least make sure your posture is on point.
When you’re sitting at your desk, try to picture a line running down your body, starting from the middle of your head. As the day goes on, keep your body symmetrical around this line. Make sure your legs are centered and not crossed. Don’t lean to one side, and keep your head up and straight. Just remember–we’re not going for military posture. Keep things relaxed and fluid, but always have this goal of symmetry in mind when you’re sitting.
And better yet, do everything you can to sit less. Once an hour, get up and go for a quick stroll across the office or through your house. If you can, opt for a standing desk while you’re getting work done. Best of all, a study from Cornell shows that taking breaks from sitting can actually make you more productive at work! It’s a win-win situation.
If you’re like most people who want to improve their posture, you might struggle the most with simply remembering to do it in the first place. Slouching and hunching over are habits, and these habits can prove really hard to break!
So one easy way to remind yourself to realign your posture is simply by turning your palms up. This idea comes from the Japanese acupuncturist Kiiko Matsumoto. Kiiko recommends that anytime we’re not using our hands to place them palm up. For most of us, it’s an unfamiliar movement that can remind us to straighten up the rest of our body, too.
This palms-up posture also helps open up the Heart, Pericardium and Lung meridians. In TCM, these pathways control important functions like breathing, sleep, blood circulation, and digestion. In just a few weeks, you should notice better posture and a more open feeling in your chest. That’s a sign that your Qi flow is back and better than ever.
Acupuncture is a popular TCM treatment that can help you with everything from Fibromyalgia to Asthma. And surprising as it may be, being stuck with needles can help your posture too.
That’s because acupuncture and posture have a sort of reciprocal relationship. Bad posture can decrease the good effects of acupuncture, and vice versa. And if your TCM acupuncturist is skilled enough, they can tell you which areas of your body are suffering the most from your hunchback habits.
So if your posture is wonky but you aren’t sure where to start improving it, make an acupuncture appointment. Your practitioner should help you identify whether you have problems with your lower back, neck, shoulders, hips, or even your jaw!
These days, it’s pretty easy to have bad posture since we spend so much of our days hunched over screens. Try to incorporate these simple tips into your everyday life to stand up straighter and “un-kink” your flow of Qi. You’ll notice the difference in how you feel and how you look.