Poor Posture and Slouching – A Double Edged Sword!

by Jane Torvaney, Physiotherapist, Scotland

We all know that poor posture and slouching is not good for our posture – our spine is in a poor position and at risk due to the pressure going through it, our feet tend to dangle and don’t support us. Our chins poke forward, our shoulders roll inwards, our chest and internal organs get crushed when we slouch and therefore can’t work freely. If you try this yourself you can immediately feel the impact it has on your body.

Not a very loving way to treat ourselves!

But do you ever think about how you relate to other people when you slouch? Or how others relate to you when you slouch?

Recently I was working with students who were on study leave. We were talking about stress, relaxation and self care in the lead-up to their exams. I was sharing some supportive sitting positions with them and explaining why our sitting position is important.

As I talked to the pupils, I asked them to feel and observe what was happening when I changed my position. I slid down in my chair, adopting a slouched position while I continued to talk. For me, it felt awful – not only did I lose connection with myself in a physical sense I also lost the connection I had made with the students. I could feel my expression had changed, the words I used and even the quality of my voice was affected. Sentences no longer flowed and words lost their rhythm. I had to work really hard to remain focused on what I was saying. Everything began to feel more difficult and I had a sense that if I continued like this I would soon feel like giving up.

The students in return shared that they felt uncomfortable. They began to feel a little agitated and distracted, finding it difficult to concentrate on what I was saying. One student said that it felt as if a barrier had been formed between myself and the students. Another shared that she couldn’t be bothered listening any longer.

When I corrected my posture everything adjusted and settled back again.

This simple exercise confirmed to me that the importance of posture goes far beyond the physical, as does the responsibility I have in how I choose to sit, stand and move around. It goes far beyond just taking care of myself. As I have discovered, it is actually something that can affect a whole group of people who are in my presence.

How I do these things has a two-fold impact – both on my physical body and on how I relate to others.

If I choose to slouch in a chair for instance, I begin to shut myself off from others. In turn they get to feel this and may too choose to shut off. Thus the opportunity to connect and communicate openly is diminished simply by choosing how I sit.

Likewise, if I choose to sit, stand and move gently in a way/posture that supports me and allows particularly my chest area to remain open, an opportunity to connect with others is there.

Through my posture I am saying I am here, I am present and I am with you.

Inspired by Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine

521 thoughts on “Poor Posture and Slouching – A Double Edged Sword!

  1. ‘Through my posture I am saying I am here, I am present and I am with you’, is wowser of a statement. To me it feels you are open to anyone, it’s also saying I am here for you whether you accept or not accept what I am offering. I will not change my standards for others, and that absoluteness will remain within me…

  2. It’s intreresting to think how our body posture affects people all of the time, even if we are not in direct communcation with them.

    1. Our body posture may not be a direct communication but it actually is, in that it’s communicating an expression that we all can read and in that we reciprocate back.

      There’s more to communication than our voices, it is in our every movement.

  3. Body movements and their quality in particular are key communicators in how open we are and how connected we are willing to be with another and the world itself.

  4. Slouching really is a ‘killer’ of relationships – it so does make it hard to connect to and maintain a conversation and be with a person, whether I am the one slouching or whether it’s the other person that is doing the slouching. There is something really ‘off-putting’ having a conversation with someone who is slouching as all the body signals are saying ‘go away’ or ‘I want to be left alone’.

  5. Jane thank you for a gorgeous and simple sharing – whilst I was reading this blog I suddenly became very aware of my posture and how I was sitting, and though I was not slouching, I could feel how even the smallest corrections are now supporting me so much more to stay focused and alert. Now my challenge is to take this awareness through my day!

    1. Henrietta the way I sit while working at the computer is something I am paying attention to. I’m finding that gentle exercise is supporting my back muscles which supports my whole body to be more erect and not slouch over the keys of the computer. Exercising has become part of my daily routine as I can feel the benefits of the movements over time have supported the core muscles of my body which has changed the way I hold myself and move completely.

  6. If I bring a focus to my jaw often I can tell if it’s clenched or not. Letting go of my jaw can help relax my whole body as the rest follows suit. Great if in a tense moment I can bring myself out of the tension.

  7. Jane, this is so beautifully simple and a breath of fresh air to read how the way we are with our bodies affects all of us. I would have loved this – and the understanding of what energy I am choosing to express in the way I move and hold and take care of my body – to have been taught to me when I was at school and university.

  8. Our posture, and movements affect not only ourselves, but equally those around us, ‘If I choose to slouch in a chair for instance, I begin to shut myself off from others. In turn they get to feel this and may too choose to shut off.’

  9. One thing I hadn’t realised about the importance of posture Jane was the impact on the organs, it makes sense that when we scrunch up the body everything is pressured physically and may be unable to work as freely.

  10. Interesting discussion Jane, and adding to this couch potato discussion or if we potter around / become a pot head, we end up slouching as we have no purpose and claiming the space I am sitting in and feeling the purpose of this discussion has changed my posture so thank your for the inspiration.

  11. A slouch is not natural to our body, it is a leaned pattern formed through and in reaction to our life experience. Putting the body in a placement and movement that feels natural and supportive to us is like saying ‘I will not let anything outside of me affect the way I am.’ Pretty powerful front-footing.

  12. Wow Jane, a simple exercise that taught you all so much. I bet that ‘lesson’ stayed with you all for a long time.

  13. There is so much to discover about ourselves and how we use or misuse the body, actually we could say slouching is abusing our body and then we are not yet talking, about what you’ve shared Jane, the effect on others. Connecting to our body and choosing the posture that says ‘I am here’ is the responsibility we have, towards ourselves and equally to otheres and it is actually quite simple.

  14. Love this reminder that we are always communicating, through how we hold and move our bodies. In every moment we are reflecting a specific quality to the world.

      1. This is something we are not taught but is vital to the way we communicate with ourselves and all others.
        We are transmitters of energy which energy we chose to move shows in the way we move.

  15. Thank you Jane for sharing your wisdom on the effects that our posture has on our health and well being. I will be bringing more awareness to my posture as I am now aware of how it speaks volumes not only to me but also to those that I am in connection with.

  16. We can support ourselves enormously simply by becoming aware how we hold ourselves and then support ourselves in strengthening our bodies by bringing attention to these areas be it through exercise or just in the momentarily awareness that lets us already move in a different way.

  17. I love this Jane, is it highlights the power we have access to through the way we command our bodies to be positioned. The way we hold ourselves communicates volumes as the way we choose to hold ourselves calls for a specific quality of energy to move through us even in just sitting or standing.

  18. ‘Through my posture I am saying I am here, I am present and I am with you’. Gorgeous, so simple and powerful just by bringing attention to our posture, which is how we hold truly hold ourselves.

  19. The quality of our movements are indeed powerful, one only has to sit in a slouched way to feel the thoughts that you have as opposed to when we sit with a supportive posture the quality of thoughts are far greater. I know which way I would prefer to sit.

  20. Its so easy to find that I / we have shut ourselves off just in the way we are moving or sitting. It may feel like the slightest nudge, but it has a terrible impact on our relationships and what we express when we are shut off like this.

    1. The challenge I find is in maintaining awareness of our posture to the point where we can catch poor posture or poor movement sooner and sooner or earlier and earlier so it does not begin to take over.

  21. The list of our abilities to effectively shut the body off, cutting any link with the universe and with others is as vast as the list of our abilities to remain open as a point of light.

  22. We communicate so much through body language. Also, our posture and movements determine the quality of our expression and so everything matters.

  23. I remember doing a similar exercise Jane and I agree with you that how we sit makes a huge difference to what we can take in. I have noticed that by the afternoon in certain meetings everyone has slumped in their chairs and you can tell from their body language they have switched off. it would be a tremendous support if lunch was kept to something light and not heavy and full of carbohydrates as the sugar in that type of food breaks down and I have observed that it can make everyone very sleepy.

  24. It was so timely to read the heading of this blog as I was obviously slouching in my chair because as I read the words I instantly sat up straight – and then burst out laughing at my reaction. But slouching is definitely no laughing matter for as you show so clearly when we do we are mistreating so many precious parts of ourselves, so it’s no wonder we can end up with a sore neck, sore back and a sore stomach and many other sore bits. So thank you for this very practical blog, now to put your wisdom into practice.

    1. This is so true Heather, our body posture does communicate the state of our health both physically and mentally. I notice people who are feeling sad or depressed, their body posture is very different to say someone who is moving with joy and vitality. Also, I notice the vibration of their voice is also very different.

  25. Posture is a powerful reflection as to whether we are in dis-regard or not of ourselves, and hence the environment we are in and the people we are with.

  26. Change our body posture and our experience of the world changes, as does the world of us. Thank you Jane for so simply showing this.

  27. I love the simplicity in this and how this can be observed and experienced in every day life, in fact in every movement.

    1. Yes so true Esther and it makes you realise that there is a great depth to life that we can be living in connection to as such the power that is on offer to live in every moment.

  28. Posture can make us even feel depressed just by the way we sit and walk. I experienced this today: every time I noticed myself dropping my shoulders I lengthened my spine again and after doing this a couple of times my deep sad, given up feeling that I had all morning was gone out of my body.

    1. Yes, a very beautiful example, Lieke. We underestimate how powerful we are. We think we are at the mercy of how life spins, but we are not. We can determine our breath and we can determine how we hold ourselves and how we move. Being with our bodies is not just a functioning and going by the world’s demands but a conscious and loving conduction of the vehicle that carries us through life.

    2. This is amazing Lieke, it highlights how powerful our movements are, we can either crush our joyfulness or move in a way to allow us greater access to it.

  29. Body language is so important as it is how people read us . . .
    “If I choose to slouch in a chair for instance, I begin to shut myself off from others.” or alternately I can hold myself in a way that clearly states . . . . “Through my posture I am saying I am here, I am present and I am with you.” . . . all this gets picked up by those around. Thank you Jane for reminding me just how important posture is.

  30. I can always tell when I am feeling really well in myself as my posture becomes more upright. Given this then we can change how we feel simply by changing our posture.

    1. Agreed Elizabeth – its not a forced thing, just that I can feel myself sitting up, paying more attention, being more present, feeling more in my body, connected more to people and what is going on outside of me.

    2. Spot on Elizabeth – it is actually super simple to shift and change the way we feel by changingour posture or our movements. And how powerful to know this as a tool too!

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