It’s easy never to give a thought to how we might appear. After all, we aren’t the ones who see us all day. But how we carry ourselves says a great deal to others and has the subtle power to either attract or repel new acquaintances and… new clients.
We can probably recall a person who seems to command a room upon walking into it. What is it about them that is so captivating? While dress, grooming, and countenance are key players in this, we cannot ignore the role posture plays.
When you have good posture, meaning everything is aligned, core muscles are engaged, and your head is held high, three things happen:
1) you look effortlessly radiant and ready to connect
2) your clothes look better on your frame
3) you come across as someone with confidence and energy (this is key to impressing a client who is wondering if she can trust you with her needs)
Having good posture requires creating new habits when it comes to how we carry ourselves when standing, sitting, and walking. It also helps to strengthen those muscles that work to keep our bodies in proper and healthy alignment.
Here are some options for attractive standing, sitting, and walking:
For standing, try to keep your body weight evenly distributed on both feet (concentrate your weight on your big toes, little toes, and heels). Now think about aligning your knees over ankles, hips over your knees, and your shoulders over your hips.
Standing with one foot in front facing 12 o’clock and your back foot facing somewhere around 3 o’clock is also an attractive way to place your feet.
Your core muscles should be engaged and your seat tucked. Shoulders should be allowed to expand out and float (they shouldn’t be rolling forward, tensed up toward your ears, or pinching your spine). Arms may be bent at waist level or relaxed by your sides. Avoid one hand on the hip, poking one hip out, clasping your hands in front of you, or placing your hands in your pockets.
Your neck should be soft and tall, with your chin parallel to the floor. Think about elevating your head from the spine and avoid letting your head droop forward. You may think you look stuffy like this, but trust me, you’ll be lovely and engaging. Just think of a ballerina or Julie Andrews for inspiration.
For sitting, maintain that elongated neck, floating shoulders, and engaged core. Think about evenly distributing your weight on both seat bones. Knees and ankles should be together. Your knees may be in front of you with feet flat on the floor, pointing to the left side of your chair with your waist twisting comfortably frontward, or forward with ankles crossed and sweeping to the right. Crossed legs are appropriate as well, but it’s not the healthiest option as it hinders blood circulation and the ability to keep the body balanced.
Hands may be relaxed in your lap, not fidgeting. If you’re sitting at a table, hands may be on the table, fingers touching to create a triangle or gently placed on one another.
For walking, keep in mind the rules for standing and seated posture (lengthening and engaging) and try not to walk too hastily or with a large stride. It may seem old-fashioned, but walking with a book on your head for practice really does work. Think of fluidity when turning from side to side. For added elegance and glamour, imagine that you’re moving your arms and hands through water when making gestures and turns.
To make good posture even better, consider exercises and activities that require balancing and the usage of those small, stabilizing core muscles. Think paddle boarding, yoga, pilates, balance ball exercises, or ballet.
If you’d like to get serious about your posture, look into classes for the Alexander Technique, which have been used by actors and professional speakers for decades. Not only will it create a beautiful image, but it will make you feel better, too!
Instructors of the Alexander Technique observe students’ habits and give correction where needed. Their goal is to help you develop a lifestyle of healthy posture that puts the least amount of strain on the body. Many who have suffered from back pain find relief using this method.