Does the term workplace posture sound odd to you? Posture is posture, you may think. Why would it be any different in the workplace than it is elsewhere? The simple answer is that stress can cause us to forget about good posture, and most of us experience more stress in the workplace than we do elsewhere. We also engage in activities in the workplace that we don’t necessarily do when we’re while we’re relaxing at home or away on vacation.
What is workplace posture?
Many of us spend much of our day in an office. So, maintaining good posture in the workplace ensures we have good posture for most of the day. Once you master workplace posture, you’ll also be able to carry yourself well everywhere.
The way you sit all day has a direct effect on your body. If you sit incorrectly hour after hour, how can you expect to stand correctly at the end of the day? It’s easy to get into habits that are not anatomically healthy.
The first thing to do is take steps to be sure you have a proper environment for good posture. Let’s look at how your workstation measures up. Does it help you maintain healthy workplace posture, or is it hindering that goal?
Here is a checklist you can use as a guide
- Make sure your chair supports your lower back. Your feet should rest firmly on the ground slightly in front of you when you’re seated. You can also rest your feet on a footrest.
- Your computer monitor should be directly in front of you, an arm’s length away. Your eyes should be at the same level as the tool bar.
- Position your mouse close to you near the edge of the desk so you can maintain good posture while using it.
- Keep your keyboard centered directly in front of you near the edge of the desk.
Correct Workplace Posture
Now that your workstation is set up correctly, how do you know if you are sitting with correct workplace posture? Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
- Are you sitting with your back straight, maintaining all three natural curves of your spine?
- Is your weight evenly distributed on both hips?
- Is your head and neck aligned over your shoulders?
- Are you sitting back in your chair? Is the back of the seat supporting your back?
If you answered no to any of these questions, there’s room to improve your workplace posture.
It’s also important to avoid sitting for long periods of time. Get up from your chair often. Take a walk, and stretch. Better still, take an exercise break. Consider getting some colleagues together for a lunchtime Pilates class, for example!
When it comes to exercise and posture, there’s no better option than Pilates. Pilates focuses on body awareness and teaches you how to move more efficiently. When you practice Pilates, you learn to the deep core muscles—abdominals, back, and pelvic floor—that support your posture. With better posture, your shoulders will relax, your neck and head will move more freely, and there will be less stress on your hips, legs, and feet.
Good posture is key to maintaining a healthy body, so make sure your workplace posture works for you, not against you!
The mind, when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power. ~ Joseph Pilates
The quote above says it all. The reason Pilates is unique is that it’s a mind-body exercise, not just a physical activity. To understand how this works, we can look at the six Pilates principles that form the foundation of the practice and support the idea that body and mind are one.
There’s no doubt our bodies and minds are interconnected. Pilates is an exercise practice that teaches you the integrated connection between body and mind. It is mindful movement that can help you attain better body awareness. In Pilates, you use your mind to improve your body, and you use your body to improve your mind.
Sounds good, but what does all this mean? Let’s start at the beginning by looking at the mind-body connection and the six Pilates principles.
What constitutes a mind-body exercise?
It is not the name of the exercise, but rather how you perform that exercise that makes it a mind-body activity. A mind-body exercise is a physical exercise performed with intense focus. The exerciser does not need to be entertained with music or distracted with reading or watching a video. Instead, with focused attention, one becomes lost in the exercise and completely present.
The Six Pilates Principles
The six principles that make Pilates a mind-body exercise are centering, breathing, precision, control, concentration, and flow.
Centering – The core, or power center of the body, is the source of Pilates movements. The first step is to get centered.
Breathing – Connecting movement with breath is the physical key to Pilates. You use controlled breathing and full inhalations and exhalations to perform each movement. The exercises follow a specific number of counts or a certain rhythm.
Precision – Moving with precision ensures proper form. Quality of movement counts more than quantity in a mind-body exercise. Precision requires mental control.
Control – A mind-body exercise like Pilates involves control and balance of your own body weight. While other exercises also require control, in Pilates, control is combined with the three other principles to create a mind-body experience. Controlling your own body weight forces you to focus on what you are doing.
Concentration – Any mind-body activity requires concentration, and Pilates is no exception. When you practice Pilates, the focus is on your own body using concentration in the present moment. You are not focused on the instructor, a mirror, a video, or other exercisers. You are not daydreaming about other things. Instead, you are thinking about stabilizing or anchoring the area of the body that is not in motion.
Flow – A Pilates practice enables you to move with grace and ease. This ability to flow helps connect the energy of the body evenly.
How the Mind-Body Connection Affects Everyday Life
Now that we have a better understanding of what constitutes a mind-body exercise and how the six Pilates principles form the basis of the practice, let’s look at how this can help you in all areas of your life.
Awareness of how you use your body allows you to change habits that aren’t serving your physical or mental well-being. You’re able to adjust your habits so you can use your body more efficiently.
The Pilates principles and mind-body exercises:
- are calming and empowering
- help decrease anxiety
- enable you to feel less pain
- help strengthen your immune system and enhance the ability to heal
- give you a greater sense of control and well-being
Hopefully you now see why Pilates is more than (physical) exercise!
“The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning is gaining the mastery of your mind over the complete control over your body.” ~ Joseph Pilates
Pilates Body NYC is the Upper West Side Pilates Studio that comes to ‘you’ wherever you are and works around your schedule. Together we can discover the connection of Body & Mind.
Staying in shape is a challenge, especially when it involves trips to a gym or fitness studio. Maybe you’ve tried Pilates and stopped because the studio experience is not your thing. Or maybe you’ve been interested in trying it, but haven’t found a class that fits your schedule. What you may not realize is there are instructors who will bring Pilates to you! In-home Pilates has benefits you may not have considered.
Why is in-home Pilates often a better alternative? Well, there are lots of reasons!
In-home Pilates is convenient
Having a Pilates instructor guide you in the comfort of your own home is increasingly popular. Especially in places like NYC, busy fitness enthusiasts find that in-home Pilates is the perfect solution for fitting a workout into their schedule.
I love teaching in-home Pilates, because I can help my students get over one of the biggest obstacles to sticking with an exercise program. That is, by bring Pilates to them, I make working out so convenient that my students can’t avoid it if they try!
In-home Pilates eliminates distractions
Pilates is a body/mind fitness method. Results depend on your ability to concentrate and utilize the six principles: centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flow.
Of course, these principles are easier to achieve without distractions. However, in group Pilates classes, distractions are common. With in-home Pilates, it’s just you and the instructor. Your attention is 100 percent on what you are doing and how it feels—the perfect setup for discovering deeper levels of movement. You’re able to truly go within yourself, making the exercises even more effective.
You don’t have to keep up with other students
During an in-home Pilates session, you can work at your own pace. You’re at home on your own time, so you can get clear on what you need to work on. As you can imagine, it’s much easier to work up to your potential in the comfort of your home. You won’t be held back by slower students, and you won’t feel the pressure to keep up with those who are faster. Instead, your personal instructor can teach you modifications for exercises that may not have worked for you before. You’ll discover a lot this way, enabling you to take your practice to the next level.
Don’t want to go it completely alone? Find an instructor who offers duet sessions and sign up with a friend.
I recommend private or duet sessions to ensure you receive the individual attention you need for optimal results. When I work with students in NYC’s Upper West Side (or anywhere in NYC), I custom-tailor sessions to meet my clients’ personal fitness needs. I can challenge students without pushing them too far too soon. My clients experience results that far surpass what they’ve accomplished in group classes.
If you’ve tried Pilates or any kind of fitness class in a gym or studio and did not like the results, don’t give up before trying an in-home Pilates session. In the comfort of your own home, you just may see benefits you did not think were possible.
Pilates Body NYC offers you the best in Private or Semi-Private In-home Pilates lessons in NYC
Pilates? Is This What I Ordered? by Devra Swiger
Imagine being invited to the newest, coolest restaurant in town where the specialty of the house is wonderfully prepared fresh fish. You order the catch of the day with a side of fresh steamed veggies, and then you wait with great anticipation for your meal to be served. The waiter arrives – he places the dish on the table and you take a look. What? What in heaven’s name is this? It isn’t fish, it most certainly isn’t fresh and there isn’t a single steamed vegetable anywhere to be seen. You call the waiter to complain and he insists he brought you exactly what you ordered.
This imaginary scenario isn’t all that different from what is happening in the world of Pilates. Students and clients are signing up for classes and private sessions, only to discover that what they are being taught isn’t Pilates at all. The sad thing is, many people really don’t know what real Pilates is so they don’t even know when they are being served the wrong thing.
The Pilates method has been around for a very long time. It has lasted for many reasons, but not least of which is that it works. By “works” I mean it helps people develop a sense of grace, an ease of movement, greater core strength and an overall sense of well being. It works because Joseph Pilates was a genius and he knew what it took to make a body healthy in a way that didn’t involve injury. Mr. Pilates performed near miracles on ballet dancers, actors, acrobats, and regular every day people who came to him wanting to feel better, move better and to ultimately look better.
Pilates became all the rage. Everyone was hearing about how all the supermodels and beautiful people were doing Pilates and that was how they managed to look so good. Everyone wanted to jump onto the Pilates bandwagon, and before long there were certification programs – some good some pretty bad – trying to spit out instructors as fast as they could. Studios opened up on every street corner, gyms put mat classes on their schedules and everyone who was anyone knew something about Pilates.
Things began to cool down a bit and Pilates was no longer the fitness trend du jour. In order to make it more exciting and perhaps a bit more edgy, instructors took the liberty in changing the look and feel of Pilates. All sorts of new programs were introduced and before long, the true nature of Pilates got lost in the shuffle. Classes became more about losing weight, feeling the burnand doing fast uncontrolled movements over and over again. Pilates quickly became a sort of boot camp-like class only without the name.
Kathryn Russell owner of Huntington Beach based Viva Pilates says, ” If people are looking for boot camp classes, they can go just about anywhere and get that for about $5; however, Pilates is not boot camp and trying to incorporate this into Pilates misses the point. Boot camp classes burns calories and may build muscle, but Pilates goes far beyond that – it changes the way you wear your body.”
So many students are being exposed to what they think is Pilates that when they have the chance to take a real class, they are confused. They think it should be all about side planks, one arm planks and millions of push-ups. There are lots of classes out there chock full of planks, push-ups and endless repetition, but they should not be passed off as Pilates, just as a hamburger should not be passed off as fish.
Rebecca Leone who is both a Master trainer and Pilates educator who specializes in safe spine mechanics and biomechanical problem solving said, “The reason there is a quality in teaching problem in the industry is because there’s a quality in education problem in the industry. Without regulation or accountability to minimum, acceptable standards within the Pilates education industry, unregulated “schools” continue to produce teachers. In the aggregate the numbers are in the tens of thousands – those who have not been taught how to teach with integrity, who have not been taught how to confidently and consistently solve client problems, who have not been taught how to produce measurable, progressive results and also who have not been taught how to be successful in the business of teaching, regardless of teaching model. Whether you’re an aspiring Pilates teacher or a Pilates client, there is NO mandatory standard of safety, quality or effectiveness – buyer beware.”
I understand that the world of fitness is a Mecca for trends. I also understand why – people tire easily of exercise and they frequently need something to keep them motivated. There has to be some integrity, regardless of the method being taught. Yoga should not look like pole dancing and tennis should not be played on a bicycle. Pilates, my friends, should look like Pilates.
Every teacher may have his or her own way of teaching, and I am most certainly not advocating a sort of mechanical sameness in all Pilates classes. Everyone has his or her own style; however, when the class becomes a frenzy of a high number of repetitions, long holding patterns and exercises that would cause Mr. Pilates to roll over in his grave – the line needs to be drawn.
I’ll conclude with saying that those of us who are certified in the Pilates method have a responsibility to ourselves, to our students and to our clients to teach Pilates as it was meant to be taught. If you want to teach something else, go ahead and do so – just please don’t call it Pilates.
Devra Swiger is owner of Ab-Solutely Pilates in Huntington Beach, CA. She has been teaching Pilates since 1999 and is trained through Polestar Pilates, Colleen Glen, PhysicalMind and has training in Fletcher Pilates Pilates Instructor/Group Fitness Instructor Teaching Pilates since 1999
To Do List!
Are you a Pilates ‘Resolutionist’? How are your New Year’s resolutions holding up? Is Pilates still on your ‘To Do List’? Keep meaning to come to a Pilates class, but never quite make it to the studio? If that sounds familiar why not make today the day you change things. No need to go to a studio as Pilates Body NYC is the Upper West Side Pilates studio that comes to you. You supply your body, we supply the rest. Pilates made convenient!
Pilates ‘Conscious Awareness’ of your body will make a difference in the daily activities of your life.
When you pay attention to what the body is doing consciously, you have the opportunity to improve your movement and improve your habits. Create new healthy body habits.
According to Wikipedia Consciousness is the quality or state of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. It has been defined as: sentience, awareness, subjectivity, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind.
Pilates is not just about learning exercises it stretches well beyond that. When practiced correctly with conscious awareness, it can transform the way you breathe, sit, move, and use your muscles in your everyday life
- A stronger core
- Makes you more flexible
- Easy on your joints
- Improves your posture
- Helps alleviate back pain
- Helps to prevent and rehabilitate injuries
- Complements & enhances sports
- Relaxes your mind and helps rid you of anxiety
Pilates is full body exercise for full body living. Enjoy the benefits of Pilates in your daily life. With a Pilates conscious awareness of your body you will change your habits and become a fit new you.
Pilates Body NYC on the Upper West Side offers Private Pilates Instruction all around NYC. We put the ‘personal’ in your Pilates practice.