A - Alignment

Updated: Jan 3, 2019

Dear Ladies,

In the first Grace and Poise Blog series A-Z of Ballet, we thought hard about what A represents to us at Grace and Poise and what we are passionate about.

Alignment is imperative in Ballet and Pilates but also in life. As humans our bodies work like busy bees, we sit, stand, walk, talk, and internally we are undergoing many different processes that are required for us to function. Would you believe that Correct Alignment is fundamental to enable your body to do all of this? Well if your not convinced, allow us to explain why…

The Body Facts

  • Your skeleton comprises 270 bones at birth and as the skeleton matures and bones fuse together 206 bones remain in the adult skeleton.

  • The Skeleton is surrounded by muscles and connective tissues acting as links in a chain connecting the body to allow body movement.

  • The kinetic chain theory defines that when stress is exerted on one or more of these links, stress is transferred through the links of the body subsequently causing damage to numerous areas of the body.

  • Stress can occur through major injuries but also the smallest of tendencies or body habits that over time can cause damage throughout the body. This could be due to incorrect alignment displayed in simple actions such as the way someone stands or sits or walks that over time causes wear and tear of the joints.

The saying that "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link" is a perfect description of this matter

Why will understanding Body Alignment help?

  • Correct alignment allows the body to move in a stress free way

  • Correct spinal alignment enables your body to move in an efficient way with less risk of injury.

  • Correct body alignment helps keep the muscles and bones working efficiently and in balance which will aid long levity of movement and health

  • Correct alignment will help the major systems in your body to function properly including the digestive, immune, respiratory and nervous systems

Alignment is Dynamic

Alignment is dynamic and although one may be able to stand perfectly aligned when stationary, life isn’t stationary! We have to learn how to maintain good alignment when our bodies are active moment to moment.

The myths about good posture

Have you ever been told “Stand up straight” “Pull in your tummy” ‘Shoulders down” ??

There are a few issues with these sayings that are used to supposedly encourage good posture.

Lets take “stand up straight”, the issue here is that is is physically impossible for the spine to be straight, the spine possesses a natural curve and to develop good length of the spine and length through the body it is best to try and find your neutral spine and lengthen the spine.

How to find your neutral spine:

Imagine that your pelvis is a bowl of water. Tip all the water out of the front of the bowl, then all the water out of the back of the bowl. Now find a middle point where you can imagine that the water is level, this is your neutral spine.

Finding Your Neutral Spine

How to Lengthen the Spine:

Imagine that your spine is connected to a string attached at the crown of your head, the string is suspended pulling your body softly lengthening it towards the ceiling.

How To Lengthen Your Spine

Lets take “pull in your tummy”, have you noticed that if you ask someone to pull in their tummy, immediately they take a deep breath in and hold it, squeezing their tummy as much as physically possible, they lift their shoulders up towards their ears and arch their body backwards to try and get a little more length in their tummy. Now.. this cannot be good, talk about the over arched back, the neck tension, the awkward strain on the overall body and holding your breath??? We can not do that consistently to maintain our posture can we?!

How to Engage Your Core (Tummy Muscles)

Imagine that you are wearing a belt, there are 10 notches on that belt, 10 is the tightest. On an out breath pull the belly button towards the spine to about notch 3 on the belt. This would be a gentle engagement of the abdominals, try to maintain this engagement as you continue to breath and move.

Lets take “Shoulders down” . Now this is an interesting one but not all together wrong, the problem here is when people pull their shoulders down they tend to over arch their backs and cause a winging in their shoulder blades. This causes many issues as a result from a general lack of knowledge of what shoulders down should mean!

Melting Shoulders

This is a lovely relaxing image , free of tension and just what we need to feel when holding good alignment day to day.

Imagine that smooth warm chocolate is melting down your back, gently soothing your shoulders the chocolate trickles down and down, gently guiding your shoulders down and back and to lye smoothly along the width of your back.

Melting Shoulders Imagery

How do I gain good alignment?

The aim is to be able to move freely but with efficiency and to loose those poor alignment body habits. To understand how to effectively align your body when moving you need to gain training in how to do this. Ballet and Pilates are proven to aid body alignment and encourage good dynamic posture. Participating in one of these body forms with a good teacher to correct your alignment will help you to develop the awareness that will transmit into every day life. At Grace and Poise we offer both Ballet and Pilates Classes to help Ladies, even our little ladies as young as 2 years old, develop good alignment.

To conclude……

A lady must endeavour to gain good dynamic alignment so she may always move with Grace and Poise.

With Love From

Maisie & Sajedah

Grace & Poise

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