Where’s Your Head At?


where's your head at?where's your head at?Where’s your head at? is something I am asking my clients all the time. Our perception of ourselves in space is endlessly fascinating to me and my work amuses me to no end. It is amazingly fun to teach people how to walk—and help them out of pain or improve their quality of life or athletic performance.

When I teach yoga I very often start off class by standing people up in what I consider to be correct posture. And as I do that I simply wait for the reaction that is always some non-verbal version of, “No possible way is that standing up straight.”

From my perspective everybody leans back and tucks their pelvis under which is not good but as a result  their head is often situated in a fairly decent place. This is different for some as many people are tighter in the sub occipital muscles at the base of the neck than others, and these people will never have a level head.

But for the most part people have poor posture with a decently situated head. When I put them into my version of good posture, the answer to where’s your head at? is—forward—because everything else is in the right place.

This might seem strange and as usual I will add my caveat that I might be wrong, but I do this with a lot of people every week and the same thing happens. The overwhelming majority of people have their thighs forward, their pelvis pulled under, the trunk leaning backwards and their head on relatively straight and level.

When I stand them up correctly their head moves forward in space so that even if everything else in the body is well organized—shoulders, hips, knees and ankles all in a line—they will feel like they are falling forward because their head has been thrust forward more than usual.

When I tell them to go back to “old you” they breathe a sigh of relief because their head moves back to where it feels normal though everything below the neck is sacrificed to find that feeling. The biggest issue is that correcting this will not happen in an instant. Tight muscles in the neck and often the lower back will not allow for changes above and below the neck to happen all at once.

 

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3 Comments
  1. So how does that play out, eventually? Do your student’s heads align better over time? I assume that would be the goal, if we can use that word. And if they don’t what does that mean for the person who’s left with a head jutting forward?

    • It depends on how tight the sub occipitals are in general. For someone who is naturally loose it will be easier to realign the head over time. The head is the final frontier of changing one’s posture and I have been at it for about fifteen years and my head is still stubbornly forward. As I was typing the last sentance I realized that it was forward in this moment. It ain’t easy.

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