Sunday, January 25, 2009


When I was in the 9th grade, which was high school in our school district, we had a new family move into town. They had 3 sons, ages of about 4, 3 and 2 years my senior. I immediately liked them, especially the younger one. The two younger ones were a lot alike. They walked kind of slouched over with their hands in their pockets. I thought that looked cool, so I started doing it.

By the time I was later in my sophmore (10th) year of school I began feeling really bad about my posture. The farmer I worked for told me he'd like to tie a board to my back to straighten me up. The thing he didn't know was that I had been working on my posture for months, and I couldn't make any significant improvement. When I wasn't consciously thinking about it and working on it, I would return to the kind of slumped position.

Well, I worked on that for years. I still work on trying to have good posture, and I'm still very conscious of the effect that year of carelessness when I was a boy has had. One of the things I like about WII Fit is that they encourage and emphasize balance and posture, both of which are so very important to our health, participation in various activities (sports, dancing, etc), self confidence, etc.

I guess that was a very important lesson to me: be yourself, be your best self, adopt characteristics and habits that will help you do that - but don't copy foolish, damaging things that seem cool for a moment.

Years later I came across a book that had a very good chapter on posture, with a unique but wonderful suggestion for maintaining good posture. I think I taught it to all our kids. This is the suggestion:

1. Imagine you have a large, helium filled balloon tied to the top of your head, immediately in line with your spinal chord. The balloon is large enough that it almost lifts you off your feet, not quite, but it makes you very light on your feet. It makes it easier to walk up a flight of stairs, it stretches the muscles in your neck and seems to lengthen your neck. It stretches the muscles in your sides by your ribs, it makes you want to stand on your toes. Try it, let your imagination work, don't be skeptical or say, "that's foolishness".

2. Now, with the balloon in place and doing it's job, relax every muscle in your body. Don't worry, you won't collapse for the balloon is holding you straight up. Consciously relax your shoulders - feel them relax. Don't try and keep your shoulders back, just let them relax. Relax your arms, your stomach muscles, every muscle. As you relax, allow yourself to feel the pull of the balloon, lifting you almost off the ground.

3. When you are doing this well you have perfect posture. The shoulders are straight and in the right position (they won't take an un-naturally forced back position like we sometimes do when someone tells us to 'keep your shoulders back'), the stomach is pulled in just the right amount, you are light on your feet - relaxed and comfortable - nothing is forced.

4. If this is done consciously for a time it will become a habit - just like my bad posture habit. You'll find that, after a few times, when you picture the balloon tied to your head, your body immediately relaxes and you are in 'perfect posture' and balance.

I hope you'll try it. I think you'll find that it works.