In their experiments and trials, The National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) have proven that stooped posture activates negative mood and influences recovery from pre-existing negativity. Stooped posture evokes negative thoughts as compared to a person with a straight and open posture. We understand straight, but what do we mean by ‘open posture’? According to Charles Darwin, sign language was used by primitive man to convey emotion and movement. Similarly posture today is the language that is used to understand human emotions and it is how judgments are made in a social environment. We can understand this better by these examples of open and closed posture.
Closed postures can give the impression of indifference, boredom and introvertedness. While recalling a dismal event or brooding over the death of a loved one, eyes tend to look down, the back stoops and head bows down. Notice the posture of people who are worrisome and pessimistic. They always imagine and recall negative events and think of the worst scenario during conversations.
Sitting in a hunched position rather than an upright posture while thinking of an event, leads people to recall more negative aspects related to the event. Negative thoughts and emotions increase stress and that reduces immunity. Reduced immunity increases chances of catching viruses and falling sick. It disrupts optimal well-being.
Open postures communicate to the observing individual there is enough confidence, self-validation, warmth and thus openness of expression. Rarely, is a happy excited person slouching or sitting constantly. Nor have I ever met a depressed or negative person who has their chest held high with an open heart. Some research has even proven that children with better postures score well on math tests in school. Learning outcomes increase for any individual with an upright spine. This has been the foundational aim for most Yogic practices in India.
Your body language conveys your present emotions and this reflects in your speech. If you have a tough time analysing your spouse’s thoughts, look at their body language. It will speak a thousand words. Sixty percent of communication is nonverbal and that can never lie. It is the honest truth about a person’s current state of mind. With today’s work from home and online schooling, indoor postures are more predominantly seen during the day. Slouching has become the new normal. It increases the negative effects of the moods that come with decreased levels of confidence and self-belief. Stooping is somewhat a shutting down, a communication for wanting to be in isolation, which sets the mood of depression.
Happy thoughts are rare today due to an unpredictable future. Planning ahead is impossible as most plans fail, leaving a caged, imprisoned feeling. This is how our posture is reflected in our thoughts that invariably affects our moods. Therefore, posture determines our success as well as stability in mental and emotional wellness. “Look well to the spine for the cause of disease,” Hippocrates said.
An immediate change in mood occurs as the individual starts deep breathing, does some power yoga asanas or engages in some physical activity. Therefore, movement is always the best therapy to sustain better postures that can aid mental stability by positively affecting our moods, increasing immunity, confidence, self-esteem, awareness, alertness, efficiency and energy. Confusion, uncertainty and poor decision making are emotions that don’t serve us well. These mental states are byproducts of poor posture. So, stand tall with a filled-out chest, ready to conquer each day as it comes. Move more to smile more. Movement is a great start to a bright day because it makes you smile sometimes for no reason. Holding better positions ensures that ‘you’ set the mood for your day and not your environment, or the weather, or external crisis. It ensures you smile internally and externally at all times as if you are being photographed. So, think happy thoughts by moving happy moves.
Below are some exercises to help elevate the spirit, open up the heart to positive possibilities and be optimistic about a brighter future. Don’t forget to smile.
(Shikha Puri Arora is a rehab trainer, posture, ergonomic consultant and your support from injury to fitness based on real science. You can write to her on email@example.com)