The Domino Effect
For non-dancers, this can sound as
unattainable as a perfect arabesque. And
indeed it is a challenge to be mindful of our
bodies; we have a tendency to operate from
the neck up. But it’s not impossible, and as
we age, it’s even more important. Wheater
explains that trying to be more aware of our
bodies is key, since posture has something
of a domino effect on the rest of our joints.
“When your body is held up properly, there
is a lot less pressure on your disks in your
spine,” Wheater says. “This allows your rib
cage to open up and breathe more easily.
Also, this kind of position also takes the
strain out of your hips and knees.”
Without thinking about it, we tend to cross
our legs underneath our desks or tighten
our shoulders as we wait for the highway
gridlock to ease. Over sustained periods, this
kind of bad posture can result in aches and
pains in the neck, shoulder and lower-back
areas that will be difficult to ignore. But by
merely paying attention and engaging our
core muscles on a regular basis, including
the lower abdominals, Wheater suggests, we
will be off to a great start toward relief.
The first step, according to Wheater, is
developing a simple consciousness of our
bodies. Take stock of what’s happening with
your shoulders and spine.“You need to be
aware when you’re not hunching over,” he
says. “At your desk, give yourself regular
breaks. Loosen your shoulders. Get up and
Another elementary measure: Stand in
front of the mirror and observe your own pos-
ture. “Most people can look in the mirror and
see what their spine is doing,” says Wheater.
In addition, it’s important to find a desk
chair that enforces good posture. Take the
time and do the necessary research. Popular
ergonomic brands for promoting good posture include Herman Miller Aeron (perhaps
one of the most famous desk chairs, thanks
to being on permanent display at Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art), the Steelcase
Leap or the IKEA Markus. “You want to make
sure that you pick a chair where your spine is
supported,” explains Wheater.
Wheater also suggests paying attention to the
specific mechanics of how you walk. Feel the
locomotion of your body—from the tip of
your head to your torso to your feet. Then,
engage your core muscles by pulling your
belly button toward your spine. Remember
to keep your head and chin up. It may start
out feeling like you’re trying to pat your
tummy and rub your head, but with practice you can do it. This type of position will
create a natural lift in your upper body and
pelvis, explains Wheater. “This posture will
cause things to fall into place automatically,”
he says. As you begin to walk with this kind
of awareness, you’ll notice that you feel more
strength in your stride.
You may find the benefits surprise you.
In a recent study, Erik Peper, Ph.D., professor
of Health Education at San Francisco State
University, discovered that changing one’s
body posture to a more upright position
improved mood and energy levels. Wheater
agrees: “I think posture is about a way of being; it reflects how you feel about yourself,”
he explains. “Since we are aging longer now,
it’s a good investment for people to take some
time to understand their own posture and
what they can do to help themselves.” [
The right seat is key to good posture.
These are Wheater’s recommendations.
HERMAN MILLER AERON
The classic office chair is on permanent
exhibit at New York City’s Museum of
Modern Art. In addition to its sleek design,
it supports the pelvis so that your spine will
Steelcase studied more than 700 people
to see how they moved throughout the
day. Then they partnered with universities
and scientists to develop this chair that
supports those moves.
IKEA offers up a bargain version of
the ergonomic office chair with the
Markus, which is adjustable and has
built-in lumbar support.
POISED TO IMPRESS
Ask any dancer and they will tell you that a beautiful performance unfolds when ease is second nature. In
much the same way, JW Marriott believes the orchestrated experience that allows our guests the freedom
to be themselves begins with the people who deliver it—effortlessly and fluidly. In a unique partnership with
The Joffrey Ballet, J W Marriott has launched JW Poise and Grace, a training program that incorporates tried-and-true ballet techniques, like breathing, flow of movement, posture and making meaningful connections,
into the luxury service our associates provide. You may not see J W associates turning pirouettes the next
time you check into a JW hotel, but you will see them turning heads and hearts with a graceful confidence.