Why “Good Posture” Matters in the Classroom
Every day, frustrated teachers look out across classrooms filled with collapsed bodies and have to wonder at their student’s ability to engage with the lesson at hand. When internal organs, blood vessels, the diaphragm, lungs, and spinal cord are all crumpled and distorted—as well as tubes and valves that connect them—is it any wonder that children are struggling to learn? How would our car engines operate if pistons, cylinders and timing belts were out of whack? Were we to better understand the universal design shared by all healthy members of our species, we would recognize that an aligned skeleton is essential to providing the underlying framework of support for all the body’s systems, including circulation, digestion, respiration, and nervous system functions. A child’s inability to focus attention and comprehend daily lessons may be just one of the many ways that unnatural postural habits affect his or her health.
So how can we help our children to have better posture? Who among us hasn’t already learned the futility of telling a child to “sit up straight”? Even when children do try to do as we ask, moments later we watch helplessly as they sink back down into the same familiar heap of misaligned bones and distorted internal organs. And who are we to complain, when we ourselves are often at a loss to know how to inhabit our own bodies in ways that are comfortable and relaxed, yet strong and energetic. Can we ever expect children to listen to us if we don’t know how to model better posture ourselves? And just what is good posture, anyway? Who wants to put into practice something that takes so much effort and that often feels uncomfortable and tense?
Common misperceptions about posture
“Good” posture, as it has been taught and accepted by our society, is seriously mistaken! This misunderstanding, even among health professionals and fitness and exercise experts, results in misalignment of the skeleton. This matters because our bones distribute the forces of gravity in the same way that studs and foundation posts of a house do; all of them must align along the vertical axis of gravity or “plumb” line. We need only look to healthy populations in the world to see what truly good posture is and how it looks.
Truly good posture, as discovered by all healthy toddlers when learning how to stand and walk, is easy, comfortable and relaxed! It doesn’t take effort to inhabit the body in a natural way. Babies and toddlers are the gurus of how to live in comfortable, relaxed and genuinely upright bodies.
All other species move naturally according to their own particular design* and don’t suffer the aches and pains that are typical of those countless humans who have been conditioned away** from knowing how to inhabit their bodies according to its natural design.
What do aligned bones have to do with a child’s ability to learn?
5 Ways Aligned Bones Support Learning
1. Aligned bones support good circulation of blood and essential nutrients to the brain. Natural posture promotes a healthy heart that is free of pressure and distortion. Blood vessels are open channels that deliver these essential nutrients to all the cells of the body, including the cells of the brain.
2. Aligned bones support natural, healthy breathing. Creativity, learning and healing all take place when the body/mind is in a state of calm, relaxed balance. Stress of any kind interferes with an ability to learn. Because aligned bones support the lungs and diaphragm in their natural configuration, they are free from distortion or tension, both of which are essential to natural, easy breathing and its relationship to autonomic functions (stress and relaxation modes) of the nervous system.
3. Aligned bones support proper functioning of organs that digest food, assimilate nutrients, detoxify and eliminate waste from the body. Indigestion, stagnation and constipation are all qualities of body/mind that obstruct easy, natural learning.
4. Aligned bones support the primary neural pathway—the spine. Most specifically, an aligned pelvis—sets the stage, literally, for a spine that is both elongated and (mostly) self-supporting. Such a spine serves as an unobstructed conduit for a spinal cord that is free of distortion or pressure, so that messages can be efficiently transmitted between all parts of the body/mind.
5. Aligned bones support vitality and wellbeing. The skeleton serves as the underlying framework of support for a complex system of nerve cells through which flows energy, chi, ki, prana or whatever one might call the “life force” that animates the body/mind and supports healthy growth, regeneration of cells, and an overall sense of vitality and wellbeing. Such wellbeing is the cornerstone of such qualities as curiosity, enthusiasm, and engagement with the world in which children find themselves.
Reversing a Dangerous Trend
Current research into the alarming epidemic of learning disabilities and behavioral anomalies, including autism, ADD, ADHD, depressive episodes, sleep disorders and “unexplained” pain experienced by millions of children, is seriously remiss in not examining the relationship between these many conditions and increasingly poor posture. So far, overlooking the role played by naturally aligned bones in supporting overall good health in children continues to be a shocking oversight.
Teachers and parents can take heart in knowing that it is possible to help children return to natural healthy posture, as long as they themselves are willing to do the same. By learning simple steps for reclaiming truly good posture and committing to a mutual process of learning together, as equal partners, children and adults can turn this into a fun adventure they embark on as a team.
As for the researchers out there who focus on issues of children’s health: if you are one, get on board! This information will revolutionize our understanding of a key missing factor that supports good health. You, as a researcher, might win a Nobel Prize for bringing this information to light!