Make sure your rib cage is not lifted up! The cue I use in Alexander Technique lesson is to drop the xiphoid process, which is the little bony point at the end of the sternum. If you look at the image to the left, the xiphoid process is highlighted in gold. You can imagine it like a pendant hanging straight down, or joke with yourself that it’s rude to point your xiphoid process at someone.
If the xiphoid process is sticking out, it will cause you to lean back. If it is dropped towards the ground, you will find your weight centered on your feet, and that your arms and shoulders are freer to swing when walking.
If the xiphoid process is sticking out, it will prevent you from exhaling fully, and of course, inhaling fully. Observe how letting the xiphoid process hang affects your breathing. It’s a very tender spot in the body. It lives in front of the heart, lungs and diaphragm. You might even experiment with feeling a bit like you are burying it inside your body on the exhale.
Even though you feel more relaxed, you might suddenly start to worry that you are slumping! Go ahead, lift your xiphoid process back up to see what your habit of good posture is. Does this feel super stiff and tense? Go back and forth until you can feel the difference between your idea of good posture and the reality of efficient body mechanics. If the head drops when you drop your xiphoid process, that’s just information that you’ve been lifting your chest to keep your head up. Instead, imagine a tiny laser pointer on the crown of your head pointing to the ceiling. Use imagery, not your ribcage to lift your head.
In lessons, I work with my students to understand how correcting a local “part” of the body affects the whole to create better posture, balance and breath.