Standing Tall: On One Leg

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For most people, that poised walk doesn't come naturally. Working with actors frequently, I teach them the importance of this upright stance and how to achieve it with ease instead of stiffness. Whether actors or not, we all have occasions when we want to present our best, confident selves. For an actor, it is stepping onto the stage.

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For everybody else, it may be walking into a party or into that important job interview. So, how can you have such a powerful and upright stance? How does an actor pull it off? What is the actor's secret? The typical response to "stand up straight" is: 1. Lift up the front of your chest, 2. Pull your chin up as you pull the back of your head down a little, and 3. Pull your shoulder blades together. Try it. Feels familiar, right? And how long do you stay in this held-up "straight" position?

It's probably not more than a few minutes before you're back down to a slump or leaning on one leg. It feels like too much effort to stand up this way. Because this is a rather long practice, feel free to shorten it by only doing the dynamic versions of yoga poses that offer both options some days and only doing static versions of poses that offer both options other days. You could also just pick three poses to do when you are short on time. I also encourage you to work up to longer holds of static poses, from 90 seconds to two minutes because long holds of static poses can permanently change both muscle and fascia length, which will really help with improving posture.

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In this yoga pose your spine is more neutrally aligned just by virtue of you lying on your back. And moving your arms and shoulders up and overhead tends to open your upper back and encourage gentle backbend extension action of your upper spine. With your arms alongside your ears, focus on lengthening from your hips to your hands, sensing a small amount of backbend in your spine. In this pose, some people can get their hands to the floor while others cannot.

Since tightness at the front and back of the hips could contribute to poor posture, I recommend adding in this pose to stretch your hamstring muscles backs of your thighs. With a strap in hand, bend your right knee into your chest, place the strap over the arch of the right foot and straighten the right knee, stretching your foot toward the ceiling, keeping some tension on the two sides of the strap.

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Slide your bottom leg long on the floor, straightening your left knee and pressing out through your left heel. Adjust the angle of your right leg forward or back until you can easily keep the right knee straight and still have a feeling of stretch in the hamstring and calf of the right leg.

Relax your shoulders, and make sure your lower spine is either softly touching the floor or slightly arched away from it and is not jammed into the floor or over-arched. After you have aligned yourself, bring your attention to the sensations in your body or follow your breath. To come out of the pose, bend your right knee, slip the strap off your foot, and lower your right leg to the floor. This pose helps to release stiffness in your entire spine, including the upper back thoracic area.

To set up for the pose, place a folded blanket crosswise in the middle of your mat to cushion your knees. Then come into a hands and knees position, with your knees on the blanket and your hands on the mat. Align your hips directly over your knees and your shoulders directly above your wrists. Now, evenly spread your palms and fingers, and press your hands into the floor. To keep your arms straight, firm the muscles around your elbows.

While keeping it parallel with the floor, lengthen your spine from your tailbone to the crown of your head. To come out of the pose, after completing a set of dynamic Cat-Cow, simply sit back on your heels. This is the first position in the dynamic sequence of Cat-Cow. It takes your spine into a backbend, strengthening your back spinal muscles, while stretching the front of your belly and chest, and encouraging a full inhalation.

To come into the pose, as you start your inhalation, gradually arch your spine into a backbend shape. Start by moving from your pelvis, lifting your tailbone and sitting bones up as your pelvis tips forward over your leg bones, relaxing your belly and lower back down, and lifting your chest and head forward.

A Flamingo Leg Up

Keep your chest lifted and your collarbones broad as you continue pressing your hands into the floor and firming the muscles around your elbows. This is the second position in the dynamic sequence of Cat-Cow. It takes your spine into a forward rounding position, which strengthens your abdominal and front chest muscles, while stretching your back muscles and encouraging a long exhalation.

To come into the pose, as you start your exhalation, gradually round your spine toward the ceiling.

Get Started

Start by moving from your pelvis, turning your tailbone and sitting bones down as your pelvis tips backward, hollowing your belly towards your spine, and releasing your neck and head toward the floor and looking back to your knees. Keep your neck relaxed as you continue pressing your hands into the floor and firming the muscles around your elbows. As you move, focus your attention on the smoothness of your breath and sensations that arise.

Oskana stands tall, with one leg exposed. — Stock Photo © revolexituju.tknPhoto #

This standing version of reclined pose will continue to stretch front body tightness that might be contributing to poor posture while also strengthening your upper back muscles to help maintain your improving posture. This will increase the stretching and strengthening effects of the dynamic version. Well, that is what Taurean Clarke has been doing for the past several months after he miraculous recovered from an almost fatal vehicular accident last year, May Taurean, 27 years old, is a motivational speaker who imparts encouraging and optimistic words to listeners. As he recounted his trying experience to EASY magazine, he said he was doing so as he wanted young people to value and appreciate their lives no matter how difficult their circumstances may appear.

There was one point in time I was looking at the highway and I told myself I wanted to go there and lay down. I was telling people to pull me out and no one budged and I got really mad and I started shouting at them. When he realised he was shouting to no avail, he tried to put himself in a comfortable position and waited. When the emergency crew arrived they had to use The Jaws of Life a hydraulic rescue tool to extricate him.

When they jacked up the car an inch off my foot, I started to feel pain. And then the blood started to flow and I lost three-quarters of my blood. The surgeon at the hospital afterwards gave me a rough example of how much blood was in my body. After that, my body temperature started fluctuating. One minute I was really hot and the next I was really cold — my teeth were chattering. When the surgeon and his family checked on him the look on their faces told Taurean something was wrong.

That is when reality hit me and I knew my leg was off. It was like one day I had two legs then the next day I only had one. Taurean, who is also a Rally Barbados enthusiast and a member of the Tiida Society , said when it was time for visiting hours he started to cry uncontrollably, and his friends and family members followed suit. Taurean would spend two weeks in the hospital, during which time a metal rod was inserted in his left thigh. On his discharge day Taurean had to face another reality. And he was hesitant for the world to see him like that.

Having proved that he was ready by getting into a wheelchair by himself, he felt hesitant to face the world. At home, Taurean was now dependent on his family members to help him bathe, dress and eat for a long while. I told myself if I take on people staring at me, I would not go forward.

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Despite physical challenges, Taurean is still on the social scene. Recently, he went on two cruises and he said he is starting to feel like his old self.

Standing Tall: On One Leg Standing Tall: On One Leg
Standing Tall: On One Leg Standing Tall: On One Leg
Standing Tall: On One Leg Standing Tall: On One Leg
Standing Tall: On One Leg Standing Tall: On One Leg
Standing Tall: On One Leg Standing Tall: On One Leg

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