Historically, teaching posture has involved nagging, scolding, and whipping youngsters and hapless underlings into shape. We’re overdue for a break from the questionable practices of the past, not only for sentimental reasons but also because the data available to us begs it.
Positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement. What you focus on grows, and focusing on improvements keeps the improvements coming. Finding yourself in a slouched position from time to time is expected and doesn’t merit a lot of focus, except as a gentle trigger to make a healthy posture shift.
Positive reinforcement results in growth and motivates the upward trend to continue. Photo courtesy Pixabay.
Posture feels close to home and revealing of our deeper selves. So it’s important to tread lightly, sensitively, and remain supportive in postural training. Most posture distortions reflect poorly only on modern cultural norms — they are not a manifestation of our deepest selves and they can be easily shed with a little Gokhale Method training. Having someone over-interpret suboptimal posture, or judge it in an emotionally charged way, can be hurtful and burdensome. The history of postural education and observation is littered with heavy-handed, damaging practices that end up mainly serving the perpetrator’s ego or worse (more about racial and political agendas and posture in a future blog); it’s supremely important to steer clear of causing and experiencing damage.
Humans are natural mimics; our posture is influenced by what we see. Those aiming to improve their posture should not be too hard on themselves as they aim to undo some socially learned habits such as rounded shoulders and protruding necks. Photo courtesy Pixabay.
Sometimes posture does connect with our deeper emotional states. Research shows that longstanding grief correlates with forward shoulder posture (episodic grief, incidentally, does not). Research also shows that there is a significant relationship between forward shoulders and depression .
Research has shown that sustained grief correlates with rounded shoulders. Photo courtesy Pixabay.
Since you may be touching deep layers of your student, child, or self, and not only cosmetic, superficial ones, it’s all-important to lighten burdens rather than add to them. Teachers of the Gokhale Method have big and deep influences on students. Our experience is that students change a lot, they do so in a short timespan, and have corresponding relief in symptoms, improvements in energy levels and general health, and an improved outlook on life. The most common adjective used for our course (we ask for three) in our evaluation form is “life-changing.” So taking a positive stance in undertaking this endeavor makes good sense. If you detect a circular argument here, you’re correct — a positive stance helps bring about a positive stance which makes it easier to have a positive stance…
Positive feedback brings energy into the situation and the relationship. Learning and living take energy — so positive feedback always provides a welcome boost. Whether you’re giving or receiving instruction or feedback on posture, using a gentle, positive touch, whether with your words or your hands, will do much to create safety, intimacy, and growth.
Positive feedback, especially in learning posture, boosts energy, interest, and retention. Photo courtesy Pixabay.
Which other endeavors have you learned from a teacher who shepherded the process in a positive, fun way?
 Khoubi, Mehdi and Minoei, Abbas. “The Relationship between Forward Shoulder Posture and Depression in Nonathlete male Students.” 2016. http://ijssjournal.com/fulltext/paper-29022016052329.pdf