Hopefully I’m not alone in saying this, but working from home has destroyed my posture. You’d think that having more of a flexible work station and options to move all around my house, it would be the opposite. But pre-pandemic, I went to yoga 3x a week and worked out 5-6x a week. Posture, circulation, and flexibility were huge priority points for me. Now, 3 years into working from home, I am just starting to notice what the effects of no workouts, slouching in my chair, not having an office that has ergonomic options, and working from my bed has done to my posture. Hint: It’s not good.
When I used to workout with a trainer, he told me that I first arrived with my neck sticking out slightly. It’s something he notices in clients and credits to looking down at phones and hovering over computer screens — two things I frequently engage in. We worked for months to get my posture back on track, and although it wasn’t 10/10, it was getting better.
Now, it is slouched more than ever, my back hurts, and it appears the tense shoulders I worked through with my trainer are back to haunt me. Believing that all I needed was a stretch and daily workouts, I was stunned that my research found a direct relationship between posture and one of the six senses.
The sixth sense, proprioception, is the mind-body connection that helps bring awareness to the body, impacting balance, coordination, and posture. Put simply, and coined by neurophysiologist C.S. Sherrington, it’s the body’s perception of position and movement — the way the body pays attention to itself via sensory information of our current environments in conjunction to where the body is placed in any given moment.
“These sensations arise from signals of sensory receptors in the muscle, skin, and joints, and from central signals related to motor output,” states the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. “Proprioception helps us be aware of our own libs in relation to outside objects, control our movement through the world, and keep our bodies properly aligned.” It’s this very sense that helps us improve our balance, prevent injuries, pay attention, reduce stress, and improve reaction time and speed. Unfortunately, proprioception does worsen with age, causing higher injury in falling, twisting, and mistakenly bumping on things.
Fortunately there are several ways to improve proprioception, one of them including yoga. You can practice balancing poses to introduce or reintroduce the body to alignment. It will also raise your acute concentration levels and help you realize where you are in the environment.
Yoga isn’t Xtreme Stretching — it’s a challenging, but immersive practice. Even the strictest of gym rats find themselves challenged by it. In fact, if you’re not putting yoga in your routine, here’s why you should.