If you have been to a Barboza Method class, you know that every element of the method has to do with finding your body’s correct posture and alignment in order to feel younger from the inside out. It is defined as
The position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting
Your posture is the frame of your body. It is the way you hold and carry yourself. By presenting yourself with a certain position, it determines and exudes your personal levels of confidence, balance, and connection between your mind and body. The decision to hold yourself in proper position and alignment is truly a responsibility you owe to your body.
Correct alignment is important in everyday life and in everything we do. If you are physically active, good alignment is required in order to maintain good form while you exercise, whether you are doing Pilates, barre exercises, or even lifting weights. Even in something as simple as walking, picking up your legs and not scuffing your feet is indicative of an effort to maintain good alignment and shape.
Poor Posture Is a Barrier
With poor posture, you will be less able to work out and you run the risk of injuring yourself. Basic science explains that, in almost any situation, if you do something wrong, you could get hurt. it also has the ability to heal old injuries by putting body parts in their correct place, and, in turn, things within and outside the body will function better. Proper alignment improves circulation, balance, walking, and even breathing, as you are able to hold more space in your chest. Elongating through your back and spinal cord aligns everything into its intended place. Holding yourself with good position can also express to others how well you are feeling, just as poor alignment can convey a completely different message.
What Correct Posture Should Look Like?
In today’s world, most humans have forgotten what correct position should look and feel like. We tend to use our muscles to hunch our shoulders and round our backs, which says everything about our lifestyles and what we value. Now, more than ever, we look at ourselves in a frame on a phone screen, and don’t pay attention to the rest of our body. This exhibits a distinct disconnection between our bodies and our minds. From the ways we constantly look down at our phones, computers, or even how we sit while driving, we are becoming more and more unaware. Whether we hold ourselves with poor or correct position, it is a choice we make through our mind-body association. To reconnect our bodies to our minds, we need to open ourselves up, physically and mentally, by unplugging. It means not only getting away from our screens, but also establishing space between ourselves and our virtual worlds.
How Barboza Method Corrects Posture?
In the Barboza Method, we use the floor and the mirrors as maps to keep our bodies straight and in proper alignment. Finding our correct position in class involves activating the posterior chain, which is also part of your core. In a one-hour class, youget a full-body, no-impact workout that lengthens, strengthens, and makes you feel younger from the inside out. Every Barboza Method class starts with students laying on their back, utilizing the ceiling and side mirrors to see and fix the lines of their body. Throughout class, we keep the pelvis tucked underneath and the lower back pressed into the floor.
We lengthen the body by keeping the chest lifted and shoulders back, belly button pulled in, arms reaching either up by the ears or open to the side and in line with the shoulders, and oppositional pulling through our legs by moving them through different positions. The lines we look for with our legs are: 90 degrees, which is our body forming a right angle and the toes in line with the ceiling; 45 degrees, which is halfway between the ceiling and one inch off the floor; and one inch off the floor. While laying on our back, we have many exercises we do with our legs. In dance and in Barboza, our legs are either turned out or in parallel. When we turn out, we rotate from our hips so that our knees face outward and our heels come together in first position.
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Turning parallel means that you rotate your hips inward so that your knees face your collarbone. Most exercises in Barboza can be done in both a turned out position and in parallel. We may do one-line drops, where we keep our legs together and lift and lower from 90 degrees all the way to one inch off the floor. We may do demi pliés, where we bend our knees slightly, and then extend our legs all the way straight again. We may do first-position beats, which is always done with our legs turned out and all the way straight, and involves quickly opening and closing the inner thighs together. Every exercise is done while keeping the lower back pressed into the floor.
We also lay on our side in Barboza classes to work the outer and inner thigh. On our side, we use the edge of the mat as a map to stay straight and keep body right, by aligning our bottom shoulder, hips, and ankle on the very edge of the mat, and checking that line in the ceiling mirror. In the beginners class, we lay on our side with our back up against the wall, so that the wall guides us to stay in alignment. It is important to lengthen through the side obliques by finding space between your side and the floor.
Both the shoulders and the hips should be in line, one on top of the other, respectively. The chest stays lifted, and the pelvis tucked under. To work the outer thighs, we may also do battements while lying on our side, where both legs stay straight and turned out, and the top leg lifts all the way to 90 degrees, then lowers back down to one inch while closing the inner thighs together.
To work the inner thighs, we may do Peter Pan leg lifts, where we bring our top leg into passé and touch the top, pointed toes to the bottom knee, which stays straight as it lifts off the floor. After doing all the exercises on both our right and left side, we move on to lay on our stomach. The various lifts we can do in this position isolates our posterior chain, or our back, which is also part of our core. You should work the back of your core to be as strong as the front. Still using the floor as a map to stay straight, we tuck our pelvis under and press our hips into the floor, while pulling the belly button in and up off thefloor. To work the upper back, we may do touch-extends from our shoulders, where we lift our chest off the floor, extend our arms up straight and next to our ears, then bend the elbows in line with the shoulders and touch the fingertips to the tops of the shoulders. While doing touch-extends, the legs can be lifted to one inch off the floor, or remain down with the tops of the feet touching the floor.
To work the lower back, we may do diamond leg lifts. We bend the knees out wide and bring the feet together so that they touch, forming a diamond shape with the legs. To lift, the knees come off the floor as the pelvis stays tucked under and the chest stays lifted and facing forward. While doing diamond leg lifts, the arms can remain resting on the floor straight out in front, out to the side in line with the shoulders, or extended up by the ears with the palms of the hands facing each other. All the time, we make sure to squeeze the glutes as we lift the knees in the diamond.
When we sit up in Barboza, we are able to work the legs, the arms, the shoulders, and the back. Sitting up requires sitting at a right angle, just like laying on our side or on our back at 90 degrees. In the beginners class, we sit with our back against the wall so that it can be our map to stay straight. We find the sit bones, and extend the legs straight out in front, which can either be turned out or in parallel. As we march, alternating the right and the left leg, the legs stay straight and we lift from the base of the thigh. Turning the legs out will isolate more of the inner thigh, while marching in parallel will target more of the top of the thigh. Though we lift our legs, we only go as high as we can while keeping our back straight. We do not want to compromise the straight lines of our right angle by hunching or leaning the chest forward as we march. The arms stay up by the ears with the palms facing each other, and the fingertips line up with the shoulders and the hips. We always use the side mirrors to check our right angle, to make sure the back is staying straight, and that we are reaching through the arms. We also do arm exercises while sitting up.
The back must always stay straight while the arms are working to help you keep your body’s position and alignment correct, and we can always check those lines in the side mirror. We may work the arms by doing side pulses back. To do it, the arms open up to the side and are in line with the shoulders. The elbows should be turned up to the back so that the shoulder blades pinch together, and the palms of the hands face down. Pulses back are very small movements that bring the arms back slightly, while keeping them straight and at shoulder-height. The chest stays lifted, and the shoulder blades should come together. The exercise works the shoulders and the upper back. We may also do paddles, which involves extending the arms out in front with the palms facing either down or up. Paddles can be slow or fast, but the arms stay straight and the shoulders do not shrug. The arms lift in an alternating right-and-left pattern, with the lower arm only coming down as low as shoulder-height, and the higher arm stopping when the hand lines up with the forehead.
All the time, the back and the legs must stay straight. At the end of a Barboza class, we always stretch and adapt the lines we found on the floor to our standing position. In an hour, we isolate every area and muscle group of the body, while simultaneously lengthening and strengthening so that, by the end, we feel taller and longer and more aligned than before. It helps you to realize what the correct lines of your body should look like, and what correct alignment should feel like. Everyone can have good position. As Stefanie Barboza puts it, “Just pay attention.” You can feel the difference in your body when you hold good posture versus poor posture.
No Pain-No Gain
Challenge yourself by paying attention to how you hold yourself in space on a daily basis, whether you are driving, sitting at the dinner table, or walking down the street. You will be surprised to find that practicing good posture in your everyday life will soon have you feeling younger from the inside out.
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