Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Stopping Schlumpasana

A recent Yoga Journal email newsletter focused on poses that help correct posture for those who tend to stoop or "schlump" over—read Getting Rid of "Schlumpasana". I got a real kick out of the author's term, "Schlumpasana," because I see it so often and am constantly amazed that:

a) more people don't stand up straight since it feels better than constantly stooping over, and
b) more people don't stand up straight because nothing says loser or victim more than slumped, oblivious posture.

In fact, while I was putting in my cardio time on the elliptical the other day, I watched in slight horror as an obviously well-meaning girl toddled along behind a trainer, with severely slumped shoulders and what seemed like vague interest at best. I wanted to run up behind her, pull her shoulders back and say, hey, here's lesson one: you'll automatically look better and taller if you just stand up straight and look alive.

If only people (especially teen girls) could see the image they project when they walk around huddled over—it's practically like wearing a sign that says NEXT CRIME VICTIM. Slumping over not only dishonors our backs, it is a telltale sign of weakness—criminals who prey on people have repeatedly stated that clueless, oblivious, "weak" looking people are more than likely the ones they pick. Ever see a president walk into a room hunched over? Upright, alert posture is indicative of an alert mind. To be taken seriously, by ourselves and others, we need to project seriousness and confidence from the core of our beings.

Yoga does wonders for curing Schlumpasana, as it brings acute awareness to posture and holding yourself up tall, straight, and proud. It's not easy to keep a straight, flat back in some yoga asanas, or in everyday life—it takes awareness and strength—which also happen to be key components in cultivating a non-victim mentality in every aspect of our lives. We owe it to ourselves, especially if we are healthy and able-bodied, to hold ourselves up with dignity and honor. It's the very least we can do.

To me, nothing feels more centering than sitting up tall in Easy Pose with hands at heart center—it's an alert but restful posture that is like a tonic for our souls.

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