The reasons we study alignment:
- to find economy of effort
- to find ease in stillness
- to find efficiency in movement
- to be present and in your body
- to be in the optimal position to make sound
Whether you’re sitting on the train, standing in line, walking to class, working on your computer, or checking your phone, there are countless opportunities to check in with your alignment and see if you can be working towards the goals listed above. Let’s look at two of these to get a visual for how we might be able to address them.
This is a big one. Moving your head off of that axis exponentially strains the muscles that support the head and neck, and also could damage your spine over time. I have been practicing bringing my phone higher up and bringing my eye focus down. It seems like a simple fix, but it takes practice. It may also keep you from running into people when you’re checking your phone and walking at the same time (you know who you are!)
When we are looking to stand in alignment, we are looking to balance these points:
Note that the arms are swung forward so you can see the top of the illiac crest. No, you don't have to walk with your arms extended ;)
Most chairs and benches are not conducive to practicing alignment, but I would recommend one of two things: First, you could sit on something so that your sitz bones are higher than your knees. If you aren't able to do that, then sit further forward on the seat so you can drop your knees lower than your sitz bones. The way to check this is to tune into the place (when you’re on top of your sitz bones) where you don’t feel like you’re going to roll back off of them. If you bring your knees higher than your sitz bones your pelvis will tilt and you’ll want to roll back. Ideally your elbows are about 90 degrees, and you're close enough to the table that your elbows can rest at your sides.
P.S. My husband and I recently got this chair to go with our standing desk and it's been amazing so far. (Again, this is not a sponsored affiliate, just an honest review!)
The idea of balancing these points in a dynamic, fluid way comes from dance and movement studies. The concept is called tensegrity. If you’re interested in this and want to start digging further than just “muscles and bones” type anatomy, I have included a few videos below to pique your interest. These are largely about connective tissue, fascia, and anatomy trains (how muscles affect other muscles via fascia).
Intro to Fascia
Lecture on The Role of Fascia in Movement and Function
Intro to Anatomy Trains
(NOTE: this video contains cadavers/human dissection and may be too graphic for some. If looking at muscles, bones, cartilage, tissue, etc freaks you out you could just play the audio)