Have you ever watched how people sit? I mean, actually studied it? If you have the change, look at people in a meeting, or a lecture. Chances are good that almost all of them have their legs crossed, and most will have at least one of their arms crossed in front of their body. Watch people work behind the computer, or reading a book in the park. You'll find the majority of people aren't sitting up straight.
Lots of health professionals recommend having a healthy body posture because a bad body posture is damaging to your spine and can cause back problems. We recommend having a healthy body posture because the way you hold your physical body affects the way you feel, think, and how much energy you have. More than just doing it to be kind to your back, do it to be kind to yourself, and to feel better.
What you do with your physical body, affects your energy body. If you are slouching, or have somehow managed to tie your limbs in knots, it is very difficult to feel strong, confident, or even smile. How often do you feel happy or healthy after having zonked behind the computer for a few hours? And how well do the people around you respond to do when you talk to them with your shoulders hunched and wobbling on your feet?
On the other hand, if you are sitting up straight, your energy flows easily, and into all the parts of your system that need it. Your subconscious sees your shoulders be back and your feet firmly planted on the ground, it sees your arms being relaxed, and it thinks "Oh, we're being confident". It becomes easier to be happy, to be yourself, to be the person you want to be and to make strong and smart choices in your life.
It also works vice versa. Your energy (like your emotions and your thoughts) affects your physical body. This is how micro-expressions work. You feel an anger, and it immediately and completely outside of your control reflects on your face through tiny facial muscles. You feel chocked, your eyebrows go places. And when you laugh - I mean really, sincerely, freely laugh - your body posture opens and your gestures get wide. It's tough to feel truly happy or strong and sit all curled up - your physical posture will change to reflect your energy.
This is because your emotions, thoughts and energy are not separate things from your physical body. One affects the other. This gives you a chance to affect how you feel, simply by how you sit.
If our posture affects our energy body, and by extention how we feel, then why do we slouch? Why do we cross our legs and fold our arms, if sitting up straight would make us feel so much healthier?
There are two simple answers to this:
Obviously, we're not doing these things consciously, on purpose. It just happens if you're not paying attention to what your body is doing. On the upside, you can use this to notice it more easily when you are not feeling strong inside, and it will often give you clear cues of what it is exactly that's bothering you.
We recommend sitting up straight, with your feet on the floor. This allows messy energy to drain out through your legs and feet into the ground, and it helps you to source up healthy new energy so you can handle more. Don't cross your legs, or your feet. Don't squeeze your legs together tightly. Relax, and just put your feet on the floor.
Keep your back straight, and your chest and shoulders open. This helps you to breathe easier, and so to bring in more energy into your system. It also helps you to feel stronger.
Keep your head up, not forced, but like there's a string at the crown of your head that's attached to the ceiling, or like you're balancing a book on there. Keep your eyes open if you are not doing serious inner work - half open is better than closed even if you are just hanging out and relaxing, it helps you pay attention to your surroundings.
So other than encouragement and a good reason to practise a healthy body posture, what can you take away from this?
Also see our listing on Sitting up Straight Inside.
Thank you @ Melanie Smits for the illustrations!