Posture, Spine, and Sushumna

Misconceptions and Clarifications

Is good posture a challenge for you when caught in an activity and not thinking about it?
Do you suffer from the challenges of poor posture such as headaches, neck, shoulder, back tension or pain? Or more internal challenges like poor digestion, reflux, lack of energy, among other limiting symptoms?

We all know that posture is an important part of being healthy and fit. However, there are a lot of misconceptions around what “Good Posture” is that are interfering with our ability to enjoy “Balanced Posture”. So, in the hope to bring some helpful clarification, let’s go through a few important facts.

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Why Straightening your Spine is not a good idea even though Being Upright is a good thing? When you attempt to straighten your spine in an effort to be upright, as usually recommended, what you achieve is a positioning of the spine and torso held by a certain level of muscle tension which is not needed when enjoying good postural balance.

That is why, time and time again, despite your repeated efforts at opening your shoulders, the synergy of your habitual body brings you right back where you started the minute you forget about your posture. Sounds familiar?

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For the Yogis out there, what is the difference between Spine & Sushumna? As a yoga practitioner or a meditator, you may have heard the term “Sushumna” which is the energy channel in the center of your body through which energy flows up and down. In yoga literature and in yoga classes teachers tend to request you to straighten your spine. Compression definitely affects everything in your body in a negative way, but is straightening your naturally curved spine the solution? Not anymore than it is to enhance its curves. In both case, your mind is telling your body what to do as if it knew better than your whole-body intelligence.

The Sushumna is a straight energetic channel for energy to flow.
The physical spine is not designed to be straight

and attempting to straighten it creates problems and limitations.

Muscularly straightening the physical spine does not work even when you can hold it into what you think is good posture for a time. In this case you build up excess tension in your back “movement muscles” instead of using your “postural muscles” and often, people think that their back is straight when it is overarched. Not a beneficial thing, is it?  And here is why?

Holding your posture creates excess muscle tension
which is actually counterproductive to being poised or to spiritual awakening.

Even when partially released, the wrong muscles are being used for support. So, it still creates compression and constriction which works against having an open and flexible body. It also creates a heaviness which grounds people on this plane of existence.

My guess is that’s part of the reasons why yoga does not always deliver the promised results or it does on some level while creating other challenges. Too many misconceptions around movement and posture started with the beginning of modern fitness launched by the body builders. So, it is a cultural challenge we need to become aware of to allow it to evolve in the right direction.


Our human mind commands the muscular holding 
as if it knew better than our body
Our higher mind works with our whole-body intelligence and wisdom
to keep us effortlessly poised.


How can you enjoy Effortless Good Posture? Effortless good posture is an expression of integrated functioning, a state of being where everything works harmoniously together: all body parts, but also, mind and body, heart and soul!

To progressively go back to integrated functioning, one must go through a process of expanded awareness which includes discovering the underlying patterns that led to your postural imbalance and the excess tension in your muscles and joints. For instance, you may find that how you use your knees when standing is enhancing your poor posture. You may discover that how you move your head and/or arms enhances your neck and shoulder tension or pain. You may realize that stress is not creating your neck pain but simply enhancing to a higher level the tension you build daily by not functioning as an integrated whole.

Once discovered, these underlying patterns can be unlearned and the natural easy way to be in your body naturally takes over again. You don’t have to learn the right way to sit, stand, or walk with better posture. It has always been there and will always be. It has simply been overridden by mind and body habits developed over time due to culture and daily activities.

Effortless Postural Balance is your birthright as it is in all Healthy Children.
The little girl below is not thinking about her posture
yet she is naturally exuding poise and integrated functioning!


How can Integrated Functioning for Effortless Good Posture be Reclaimed? There are 5 key relationships in your physical body which needs to be looked at and improved to allow more integrated functioning of you as a whole. This is part of a simple process that helps you identify and challenge underlying habits not serving you in the way you move, sit, or stand which affects all other movements.

This process starts by observing how your muscles and joints feel in these simple daily movements when handled by your habitual body. At this point, it becomes clear that muscles and joints often get engaged or locked automatically out of habit, even when it is not needed.

Then, with some pointers to activate your whole-body intelligence, you get to experience a way to do these same movements with noticeable ease. Integrating each discovery into your life helps you backtrack towards increased integrated functioning and therefore, away from chronic tension or pain towards increased wellbeing.

It is not about reaching perfection
so much as increasingly moving in the right direction,
away from harmful habits.

Summary and Tips for Improved Posture,
Efficient Use of the Spine and Sushumna Flow

  • Do not attempt to straighten your spine muscularly, nor to enhance its curves
  • Expand upward from your support not from your chest and waist
  • Make it a whole-body experience so that even when seated, your feet help you expand up and out while excess tension is being released down
  • Remember that the energy going up and down the Sushumna energetic channel overlaps with the physical spine but is not limited by it as long as it is not compressed

Balanced posture is more beneficial than held posture
whether you meditate, practice yoga or move through your daily activities

Cécile Raynor has been teaching for 30 years, published the Wise Way to Yoga as well as numerous articles, and she was featured several times both on TV and on an “Expanded Awareness” radio show. Her blog has been read by thousands of people in over 100 different countries. Her work is based on the Alexander Technique, the best-kept secret of Olympic athletes and famous performers. They swear by it because it allows them to perform at their best with optimal safety. Although it is now commonly used by everyone. She also created the Body Intelligence Activation Process™, a mind, body, heart and spirit work that affects her students in all aspects of their life as they experience increased wellbeing.

Cécile has been helping people with poor posture, chronic muscular tension and pain, joints issues and headaches reclaim their ease of movement, their natural good posture, and the joy and peace of mind brought by well-being. She has also been a mentor for many students interested in embodied and integrated personal growth.

For more information on upcoming events or if you have questions, Cécile can be reached by responding to this blog or by contacting her through her website