Elegant Posture of an Elegant Woman
How to have the Elegant Posture of an Elegant Woman. I think I've nailed this down to a science. Read more for my version of how to get a better posture of elegance.
As some of you may know, I'm an avid lover of ballet. I believe ballet teaches elegance in the form of elegant posture, gracefulness and gives us a deep appreciation of beauty, music and art.
Today, I would like to talk about the posture of elegance. I think I've somewhat managed to get it down to a science (in my own way), and I hope what I'm going to share will benefit you.
I've been working privately with two ballet teachers who are also full time ballet dancers in the Singapore Dance Theatre. For months, I had to work on my posture. I wouldn't say that I've got the perfect posture right now, but I'm getting there.
Let's start from the beginning.
Though I believe Audrey Hepburn to have one of the most elegant spirits, it is her strong background in ballet (she wanted to be a ballerina) that enabled her graceful elegance in her manner, carriage and poise.That certainly helped her wear clothes more elegantly too.
How to Assume an Elegant Posture
- Stand up straight
- Lift your Chest up but keep your ribcage tucked in.
- Hold your tummy in, do not let it all hang out.
- Bring your shoulders back and down. To ensure it is properly 'back and down', do a shoulder roll exercise.
- Soften the top part of your chest (to make it flatter).
- Straighten your knees - you'll feel your bottom tighten and 'held'.
- Lean forward slightly - feel your weight be over your big toe (and two little toes).
- Move your head back (to prevent the neck from jutting out).
- Keep your chin down (to prevent a look of arrogance).
But this is hard to do! Because there are muscles involved. I don't know the medical or technical names of those muscles but I know there are some muscles in the shoulders and back and the abdominal muscles that you'll need to strengthen in order to achieve this elegant posture.
The caption of this picture reads: "From a 1940's fashion book on posture; Reaching should be done by the muscles."
Problems of the shoulders
Raised shoulders are inelegant and makes us look tense and stressed. Slumped-forward shoulders make us look like a slouch.
Here is a great explanation of why our shoulders are rolled in or raised and the muscles involved.
How to Prevent the Raised Shoulders
Elegant bearing of shoulders means that your shoulders are back and down.
This is a great differentiator between a person who has trained in ballet for a long time versus a beginner.
A Pilates teacher writes how she is always telling her clients to 'keep their shoulders away from their ears.
Audrey Hepburn's shoulders are always back and down.
Raised shoulders is a sign of serious tension in the neck and upper back and over time it will create pain.
She also explains that raised shoulders wastes energy and prevents the other areas of the body from functioning correctly. She notes how even those who exercise regularly run and bike with raised shoulders.
She offers some advice on how to effectively relax your shoulders here.
Livestrong.com also gives some shoulder blades exercises to help keep your shoulder blades back and down to restore your body to elegant posture.
Shoulder Blade Squeezes
The writer writes about rhomboids (I presume it is a muscle?) that is responsible for squeezing your shoulder blades together. When we are slumping forward, we weaken that muscle. To combat the slumping forward posture, we need to strengthen it. See more about Shoulder Blade Squeezes here.
This other article on Livestrong.com also shows some good posture tips.
- Activate your abdominals
- Roll your shoulders back
- Stretch your chest
Read more about correcting bad posture here.
Things that Harm/Destroy your elegant posture
If you love old elegant films like me, you must have noticed how actors in the past had the most beautiful posture. It wasn't just one actor, but probably most of them. Think about Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Gene Kelly, Grace Kelly, Julie Andrews, all the little children in The Sound of Music.
So why is it that good posture is rare these days? Here are some things that slowly grates away our natural posture.
- Working at the laptop
- Working at the computer
- Working on a desk
- Crossing our arms
- Crossing our legs
- Looking down on our cell phone, ipads, and other tablet devices
- Resting our heads or chins on our hands.
Sitting and driving - undue pressure on your back
I'm not saying that we are not to sit, but research shows that sitting is actually strenuous for your back. That is the reason why there is an epidemic increase in back problems in the past few generations when we are enjoying the invention of the television and the computer, and more recently, the laptop.
All the more, when we start to drive around instead of walking around, we are increasing the hours of the 'sitting' posture. This does not matter whether you sit correctly or you slouch in your chair. The way we sit on the chair is deemed an unnatural posture to some ergonomic consultants. Some go as far as to claim that the chair is a modern invention. Our bodies are not made to sit. Sitting on a chair is an unnatural posture.
Working on your computer, laptop or desk
Working on your computer, laptop or desk causes you to slouch over just because it is more comfortable. You feel relaxed, but what you don't know is you are weakening those muscles that hold you up and help you maintain an elegant posture like all those elegant actors in the past. Further more, our education curriculum has done away with posture lessons not like those who went to school a few decades earlier. Sitting on a Posture/Exercise ball will help you realize the correct posture.
Crossing your arms forces your shoulders to slump forwards. Do it for a long time and this slouch posture will stay and feel natural to you even when your arms are uncrossed. I had to work really hard to strengthen the muscles in my shoulders and back so that the elegant posture of 'keeping my shoulders back and down' becomes natural once again.
Crossing your legs when sitting also throws your back off and puts strain on your legs and your back. Don't do it!
Looking down constantly at your the mobile phone, the ipads and other tablet devices creates a 'break' in the 'elegant posture' line and if you do this for long periods of time, you'll find your head jutting out like a turtle even when you think you are standing straight.
What Else You Can Do to Gain a More Elegant Posture
Here are some recommended reading and activities:
- Do Pilates , Yoga or Ballet
- Engage a posture coach
- Learn the Alexander Technique
- Read my other article about posture and Posture books
- Watch Posture dvds
- Study the balance of Poise.
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