Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 67 of Your Year to Wellness; Posturing

It’s all in the Posture

When I set out on my journey towards wellness, I had to learn lots of things all over again. I had been standing and sitting to make adjustments for my weight and the weight of stress that I had been carrying. After losing over 100 pounds, I walked and sat just as I had before losing weight.

One day I saw a picture of myself and I wondered when I had gotten so old. A friend who had had similar struggles and several surgeries told me to pull my shoulders way back. She told me to try to make my shoulder blades touch. When I did, I looked as if I had grown about 4 inches.

I began to look at the postures of world leaders and spiritual people and in them I saw the same thing; even when they were very old, their postures were upright.

I added yoga to my work-out routine and found that my body; like my Being were out of alignment. I began to practice my posture and I got immediate results.

I shared this practice with my friend Adrienne and was amazed that it worked on others as well. Adrienne is one of those bright young women who doesn’t know just how incredibly powerful she is. (I think it’s up to us older sisters to point it out.) She has a Masters degree in film and is working on a doctoral degree in Higher Ed. She works a demanding job, teaches, volunteers and is one of those bright and shining lights.

In the picture above, Adrienne had already lost 100 pounds, (Since then she’s taken off 60 more) but she still carried herself like she hadn’t. One day I showed her a picture of herself. I told her that she did the same “turtle” thing that I had always done; we hunch our shoulders, round our backs and tuck our head in. When we both walked, we’d lean forward and drag our bodies behind us. When she did the posture exercise we were both amazed. These pictures are taken within minutes of each other, but it looks as if they were months and weight loss apart.

I once watched a documentary about the Kayan women of Burma who wear neck rings. One of the women was having them removed and when she did, you could see that her neck was no longer than anyone else’s. The illusion of the long neck is created because the rings push the women’s shoulders down. I was still watching when I jumped up and went to the mirror to see if I could look longer. I pressed down on my shoulders and immediately had a new look.

When people come up to me after a lecture, they are amazed by how tall, or short as the case may be, that I really am.

When seated, I try hard to keep my legs uncrossed. I’m always tempted to cross them, because I can, but I learned from a nurse in my doctor’s office that when I crossed my legs during a blood pressure reading, I was causing the pressure to go higher. I wondered why no one had told me before and the nurse simply said “because before they didn’t know.”

When on a plane, I rarely recline preferring to posture even when seated. It helps me to strengthen the core muscles of the abdominal region.

If you were to pay attention to nature, you will notice that even the animals posture. My dog Othello bows to me when I give him a treat or open the door, but when he wants to get my attention he stands up on two feet. Birds puff up when the air is cold and they spread their wings wide in the sun. The woodpecker that pecks the loudest gets the best mate and peacocks really do strut.

We women have been taught to paint ourselves and sway our hips, while men push out their chest and suck in their guts.
But true beauty is in the shine and the more balanced you become, the more you shine.
I’d tell you my weight before I would my height, but I’ve learned to stand tall even in a crowd of giants.
Try this on for size:

·         Take a picture of your normal stance.

·         Now pull your shoulders down, press the blades back and pull up.

·         Instead of sucking your stomach in, roll your hip bone under. Your stomach will pull in on its own.

·         Allow your arms to feel long dropping even further down your sides

·         Now smile and take another picture

This practice will take practice (you knew it was coming) and will feel unnatural at first, but you will come to see just how natural and comfortable it is to be back where you were meant to be.

Be You, be Whole, be Upright

Bertice Berry, PhD


  1. This reminded me of a Master class in flute. Believe me...I was no "master" I was a beginner but my teacher thought this would help because the instructor was an advocate of "The Alexander Technique." It was a day of learning how to breathe, relax and lengthen. I actually added 2 inches to my body length during the day long seminar. Find more at:

    1. Thanks so much for the reminder of The Alexander technique.go. I LOVE the way all things work together. I was talking about a beautiful couple yesterday who have been married for many years. They are living their life long-dream to travel the world, learning as they go. They told me about this technique and I could not remember the name. thanks for the connection