Effortless posture……finding your spine.

Good posture is effortless. No, this isn’t a typo; it’s the truth. And the key to effortless posture is to find a way to let your spine support you. Our spines are designed with natural curves that support us during all weight bearing activities. Unfortunately, sometimes our ideas about finding “good posture” causes us to try and change the natural curves of our spines. The result? Abnormal alignment, muscle imbalances, joint pain, and joint dysfunction.

So, how can we find the natural curves of our spine? By learning how to find the natural curves of our spines so that the force of gravity goes through our spine and our bones in a way that supports our skeleton and doesn’t strain our neck, back, hips, knees, ankles, and feet. This simple movement exploration is an example of the movement lessons from my book, “Forever Fit and Flexible: Feeling Fabulous at Fifty and Beyond.” It’s important to move slowly, carefully, and with a spirit of interest and curiosity. In the “Forever Fit and Flexible Program,” there is no right or wrong, good or bad; just opportunities to learn.

1). Sit on the edge of a firm chair with your feet flat on the floor. Bring your attention to your sit bones (located under each buttock and called the ischials). Notice how your sit bones contact the chair. Notice the shape of your spine. Don’t change it, fix it, or make a judgment about it. Simply take a moment to sense the shape of your spine from the base of your pelvis to the top of your head.

2). Very, very slowly and gently begin to rock your pelvis forward and backward on the chair. You are moving from your pelvis, not your chest. Notice how you rock more forward on your sit bones, and then more backward on your sit bones. Do this several times, slowly, carefully, and with a sense of curiosity. Notice how the pressure of your sit bones change against your chair. Pause and rest.

3). Once again begin rocking your pelvis forward and backward. Slowly. Gently. Notice how you get shorter on the front of yourself and longer on the back of yourself as you rock backward on your sit bones. Notice how that changes when you go forward on your sit bones. Several times, slowly, gently. Notice how you breathe as you do this. Pause and rest.

4). Once again begin rocking your pelvis and notice when your sit bones pass through a spot where you feel like you can sit easily and comfortably. If you can sit without any effort your spine is supporting you. You have found effortless posture in sitting.

5). Slowly come to standing, and notice what it feels like to be in a standing position. Notice the shape of your spine. Walk around and notice the carriage of your head, the movement of your shoulders and the movement of your pelvis as you walk.

This simple but powerful movement exploration can help you find a renewed sense of ease, grace, youthfulness and elegance in your posture as well as all of your functional and recreational activities. Keep moving, be healthy!

Declaration of Celebration

Have you ever made a Declaration of Celebration? If you haven’t, I highly recommend trying it. It gives you the chance to focus on the positive things in your life, helping them get bigger and more powerful until they run the negative thoughts into the ground. Trust me, I know.

When I turned 50, I was determined to turn my life around. I must confess, my 30s were a nightmare. My 40s were even worse. I wasn’t even sure I would make it to 50, and neither did many of my friends.

But I kept thinking to myself, “If I can only make it to 50, maybe things will get better.” So, as I found myself crawling toward 50, I started planning my life after fifty and what it would look like.

I started by making a Declaration of Celebration. I promised myself that my gift to myself would be to celebrate my birthday every single day for 50 days in a row instead of just one day. I called it “Fifty Days of Cheryl.” Every single day, I would honor myself in some small way, give myself positive affirmations, and treat myself with the same respect and consideration that I treated other people.

I was so excited about my idea that I shared it with all of my friends and even my husband, because even just saying it out loud made me feel empowered and optimistic. I didn’t start the Fifty Days of Cheryl on my birthday, but 2 days before, because that was the day that my girlfriends gave me a big party, complete with a red tiara.

It was the best party I ever had. Even a bunch of fireman showed up. I thought they were the entertainment, and so did a lot of the other women, as we looked around trying to figure out who hired them. It’s not my thing, but I was deeply touched that my friends thought of everything, until the firemen started to usher us out of the building. Apparently they really were firemen, and we had to vacate the premises.

Fortunately, the fire was a false alarm, and we sent the guys on their way with slices of birthday cake to take with them. And it gave us even more to celebrate, since the restaurant didn’t burn down and no one got hurt.

On the 10th Day of Cheryl, I got the stomach flu. Still staying positive and optimistic, I decided to drop the day and start the count again the following day when I felt better. Unfortunately the little stomach bug was also celebrating Fifty Days of Cheryl, and it hung on for a week. The good news was that it didn’t hang on for the entire fifty days. Boom! Another reason to celebrate.

It’s important to stay positive and look for the good things that life has to offer, no matter how big or how small. And, I celebrate every birthday with the Days of Cheryl, adding another day every year. It’s hard to believe how many years have passed since I turned fifty. But then, that’s just one more thing to celebrate, don’t you think?