Straighten up and dance right

“Keep doing what you’re doing.”

They’re good words to be told when leaving the osteopath: No ‘but,’ no ‘however,’ just keep it up.

When I started ballet as a raw beginner a little over two years ago, a key motivator was my posture. Sitting at a desk all day for work, I knew I was falling into the trap of desk posture. I was becoming hunched and lazy.

It’s not that I wasn’t aware of the importance of posture, the difficulty was that good posture required a conscious effort – a conscious effort that faded as soon as I was distracted by the next email that appeared in my inbox.

Good posture had to become something that I did automatically.

Adult ballerinas in a pointe class with the teacher providing corrections.

Dancing straighter to stand straighter. Photo: Alexis Leblais

Weighing up my options to take up a new form of exercise, I decided that dancing ticked a number of boxes: it was fun, it was active, it didn’t require daylight – and good technique required good posture.

With posture correction now in my criteria for choosing a form of dance, I decided ballet was the direction I wanted to go.

It still didn’t come automatically. It was still something I had to work on. But gradually, I went from sitting straighter at my desk the morning after class, to sitting straighter at my desk for the next two full days after class.

I now walk straight the whole week after class, right up until I walk in the door of my next class when that good posture is once again reinforced in my muscle memory.

Working on a back strengthening exercise with teacher correcting.

Working on good posture does hurt sometimes but it’s worth it. Photo: Alexis Leblais.

I feel like my default posture is straight and no longer something I consciously focus on doing.

I still have my off days, those days when I’m just exhausted or dejected. But those hunched days are no longer the norm.

There’s a strength to walking taller, walking straighter. My muscles feel engaged and my body feels activated.

My mind does too.

We often associate good posture with confidence and sometimes I think it’s possible to trick ourselves into that mindset too.

I walk with confidence, therefore I am.

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