“What Is Good Posture?”

This question is Moshe Feldenkrais’s title for lesson #1 in his book Awareness Through Movement, which he wrote to introduce his method to the masses. (Here’s our collection of recordings of these foundational lessons.)

His answer from the lesson introduction is simple, precise, and probably not what you’d guess:

Good upright posture is that from which a minimum muscular effort will move the body with equal ease in any desired direction.

Notice that Feldenkrais’s definition isn’t a description of a position. Instead it focuses on efficiency and potential for movement.

This points powerfully at the purpose of The Feldenkrais Method: to learn to act and respond in the world with freedom, confidence, and ease, instead of compulsion, struggle, and suffering.

Feldenkrais also tells us what the alternative to good posture is: most people habitually and unknowingly counteract gravity with voluntary muscles, instead of organizing their bones for the anti-gravity task. This ties up major portions of our musculature, so all our movements become pointlessly limited.

He ends his lesson introduction on a powerful, compassionate note:

[Physical or emotional] Pain that undermines confidence in the body and self is the main cause of deviations from the ideal posture. Pain of this kind reduces the individual’s value in his own eyes.

Check out “What Is Good Posture” below to explore how learning more sensitive, efficient movement in gravity naturally leads to less pain, more confidence, and better posture!

Everyone can review many more of Feldenkrais’s principles of posture in the free lesson notes tabs of “What Is Good Posture.” Patron-level donors can study my audio rendition of this important lesson.

If you’re not a Patron, or you wish to prepare for this challenging lesson, we’ve included five free lessons for better posture below. It’s an unordered list, so follow your curiosity and try one, or try them all!

This post first appeared as a monthly featured free lessons newsletter. You can join our mailing list here.

 


Lessons for Better Posture

Breathing from Head to Heels

Enjoy the link between better breathing and better posture, as the floor you lie on becomes a metaphor for gravitational plumb

Dynamic Sitting and Chair Clock (24 min)
Sitting and Turning with Length (26 min)

Free your hips, get to know your sitbones, and discover more upright mobility in chair-seated

Fundamentals of a Healthy Back

Learn to better sense and regulate your whole axis – head spine, and pelvis – as you move

More Precise Hips and Spine

Practice the deep hip folding used in the “What Is Good Posture” lesson

What Is Good Posture? (Patrons)

Feel Feldenkrais’s answer for yourself!

Everyone can study Feldenkrais posture principles in the free Clarifications and Curiosities lesson notes tabs of “What Is Good Posture.”


1 Comments

  1. Nick Strauss-Klein on September 15, 2023 at 12:12 pm

    A while back, as I was considering which ATM book lesson to record next, I received this email from a listener about the lesson What Is Good Posture, as it appears in Feldenkrais’s book.

    I find it inspiring – maybe you will too! I’m sharing it with Ann’s permission:

    I am overwhelmed by the logic and simplicity of what [Moshe Feldenkrais] is saying. Many years ago I did a degree in maths mainly because I found it easy and interesting and I enjoyed finding the simplest and most elegant solutions.

    In a similar way I was drawn to Feldenkrais with its emphasis on looking for the most effortless ways of moving. I realise you could in a way apply this to many pursuits, like for you playing the piano.

    When I was 60 I suddenly experienced a severe attack of sciatica and eventually with the help of an excellent yoga teacher I completely recovered and trained as a yoga teacher.

    When I read lesson #1 and understood about the autonomic anti-gravity muscles I had hitherto been unaware of, suddenly things began to make sense. It was an epiphany! I now feel very embarrassed to admit that for many years I was convinced that you could stand in the gravity line with no apparent muscular effort. All the questions about, for example, why it was more difficult to go down in a forward bend than up were answered. Also the explanation of why if I did forward bends and back bends in quick succession the forward bends became easier.

    I realised that if I went into a squat by first flexing at the hips the movement up and down was almost effortless. In yoga I had been firmly instructed to always start from the neck and work my way down the spine. If I had just looked around me and observed how every small child behaves I could have saved a lot of bother.

    There were many other ideas in the lesson like the transition from sitting to standing and that the desire to reach a goal interfering with the process. I have never found any other writer who can pack so many ideas in a paragraph.

    Unfortunately at 84 I feel I am to old to do a Feldenkrais training but thanks to you I can study as I wish.

    Best wishes,

    Ann

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