This year, one of the most valuable habits I’ve nurtured is having a little lie down during the day.
I’m not talking about collapsing in a heap, eyes closed and mentally switching off. But taking minutes during a busy day to lie down with awareness, allowing my body to regain some of the natural poise we all have buried beneath bad habits.
So here are my top reasons why lying down is so fantastic for your posture and instructions for you to follow.
Pump up those discs
You may have noticed that you’re taller in the morning than the evening. The reason? The discs in your spine become flattened as they lose synovial fluid. This happens naturally but is more noticeable if you’ve been sitting or moving badly. Lying down for 15-20 minutes enables the discs to re-hydrate so you gain your “just got out of bed” height.
Restore a healthy head and neck relationship
Check out anyone with dodgy posture and chances are a major problem is the relationship between their head and neck. Think of “text neck” where the head juts forward putting enormous strain on the neck and upper back. Other people throw the head back tightening the neck and compressing the spine, equally unhealthy and unattractive.
Lying down with a few books under the head can restore the natural relationship between the head and neck as well as giving instant relief to sore and overworked neck and upper back muscles.
Tension is a major cause of poor posture. Maybe we hunch our shoulders and tighten our arm muscles when taking a sip of our favourite brew as if we’re lifting a heavy weight. Perhaps we use excessive muscular effort to walk. The problem is that we’re very good at holding onto tension long after the initial reason for it has gone as if we’re walking around with the movement handbrake on.
When we lie down, and feel our body against the floor, it’s much easier to recognise when we’re holding onto this tension. If we’re tense, it will feel as if we’re hovering above the floor. As we let tension go and allow the floor to fully support our weight, the feeling is more one of melting into the ground. And once the muscles have had a chance to release with the gentle persuasion of gravity, we get up feeling lighter, freer.
Realign your posture
We’re all sometimes guilt of using use our body in an unbalanced way perhaps by standing on one leg rather than balancing our weight equally between both feet or sitting with one shoulder forward leading to a twist in the body. This again can all lead to tension and pain.
When we lie down we can become more aware of these patterns and can restore a more symmetrical use of the body.
Deeper breathing – calming and restoring
And finally, lying down gives us time to bring our attention back to the present, to regain awareness of our body and to breathe a little slower and a little deeper. It provides an oasis in the hubbub of the day leaving us calmer and recharged.
How to lie down to improve your posture
Get yourself a few books (3-5 cm in height is ideal) and a flat, firm surface (floors or massage couches are ideal but a bed is not supportive enough).You’ll need 10-20 minutes when you won’t be disturbed.
Lie down carefully and place the books under your head, level with your ear lobes so that your head is supported by the books. The neck should float above the floor, held without tension and supported by the head and upper back.
Place your feet flat on the floor, your knees bent pointing up towards the ceiling, hip width apart.
Keep your eyes open and rest your hands gently on your abdomen.
The aim is not to force any part of your body onto the floor or to try and do anything but simply to let go of any tensions. Breathe with ease and think of your neck and spine lengthening, your shoulders and pelvis widening and space in your joints.
Notice where you are holding any tension and if you can simply let it go. Allow the floor to fully support your body. Breathe.
When you are ready to get up, roll carefully onto one side and then onto all fours. Slowly stand up.
You should feel taller and revitalised. And if you repeat regularly you’ll be doing your posture a huge favour.