I ask my students to answer these 3 questions about their spine.
- Where does your spine begin and end?
- Is your spine more flexible or more stable?
- What bones connect to your spine?
Sometimes when a new student walks into a first lesson I can see that they are trying to lengthen their stature. For sure, this is a worthwhile endeavor, and one which I focus on. Yet, I find that the way to modify posture is to question one’s belief about the structure and quality of their spine.
First, let’s answer question #1.
Where does your spine begin and end?
Your spine starts at the level of your ears, the intersection point is behind your eyes. Your bony skull (your head) sits atop your first vertebrae (C1), the Atlanto occipital joint.
Your head/neck/rest of your spine relationship has everything to do with balance, poise and availability for movement – think accelerator (freedom in the neck muscles) in place of brake (contraction in the neck muscles).
When you want your car to move, you release the brake and depress the accelerator. Your neck muscles are NOT designed to brake in order to HOLD your head in place – exactly the opposite! Let go and go!
#2 Is your spine more flexible or more stable?
Actually, both. Although no one intervertebral joint moves very far, there are many, so our torso is quite mobile. Yet because of the curves (cervical, thoracic and lumbar) the spine is stable when we want it to be. Think about carrying a bunch of books or a water jug on top of your head. Because your spine is springy it can manage the distribution of weight. Men lifting their partners need a stable and springy spine.
#3 What bones connect to your spine?
Your 12 pair of ribs (right and left) connect to your spine in the back, and the sternum in the front (except for the 2 floating ribs on either side that only attach to the spine).
Keeping the breath flowing freely throughout your swing, waltz or tango enables the ribs to move away from and towards the spine, giving it a bit of massage.
The back of your spine connects to your sacrum, which connects to your pelvis.
If we are to have “good posture” it is worthwhile to know that our spine is buoyant, strong, stable, breathing, flexible and curvy. If that changes your belief at all, think about these qualities in your lessons and you will notice a difference in movement quality, freedom and flexibility.
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