Celebrity Pilates instructor Brooke Siler shares secrets to walking — and standing and sitting — tall.
Perfect Posture: Sitting
“Imagine the line from chest to upper back as a pair of suspenders,” Brooke says. “When you sit rounded over your computer keyboard all day the muscles of your chest— or front of the suspenders — begin to tighten and shorten. And the muscles of your upper back (particularly your trapezius) — or back of the suspenders — start being pulled forward and end up ‘locking’ into a long, stretched position to compensate. Your shoulders are caught in the tug of war and soon you find that it's harder and harder to shift out of that stooped posture.”
Try this: Sit on the front edge of your chair with your torso positioned at a very slight angle forward, with feet planted firmly on the floor and knees are squeezed tightly together. Bring thumb and index fingertips together to meet in a triangle, and position hands behind your head, palms facing up and elbows bent. Concentrate on keeping shoulders down, then inhale and press your hands upward, on a slight diagonal forward, extending elbows so arms straighten, keeping fingertips touching. (Imagine you are rolling a large boulder up a steep mountain with your hands as you extend.) Exhale and slowly bring your hands back behind your head, imagining the weight of the boulder hovering over your head as you go. Be sure to keep shoulders down throughout. Use your core to control your movements. Repeat this sequence 5 times.
Perfect Posture: Standing
“When you are standing, see if you can discern whether there is more weight on your left leg or right leg. Once you have decided, shift more weight to the opposing leg and get a sense of what that feels like. Then shift your weight to the center, evenly distributed on both legs, and notice the stability. What does your torso feel like when it is sitting atop a strong, balanced foundation?”
Try this: While standing in line at the market, bring your heels together and toes about a fist’s width apart and bend your knees slightly. Using the floor as a pushing-off point, imagine there is a zipper running up from your ankles. Now, “zip-up” your inner legs beginning at the ankles and rising up through the inner thigh and into the low abs. Repeat this thigh-slimmer until you reach the register.
Perfect Posture: Walking
“See if you can detect the strike pattern of your feet,” Brooke says. “Do you walk with more weight on your heels or toes? Do you roll out on your feet or in or both? While walking, shift your awareness to pushing the ground behind you away in order to work deeper into your hamstrings and lift your glutes.”
Try this: As you walk, lean slightly forward, and keep the focus on pulling your abs and waist in and up, away from the waistband of your pants. Your upper body will lengthen, and you will feel taller. Begin each step with the heel striking first, making sure to track on the outer part of your foot until you push off, forcefully, from the base of your second toe. This will get all the muscles of your feet awake and involved.
Celebrity Pilates instructor Brooke Siler, owner of re:AB Pilates Studio in New York City, has trained red-carpet beauties like Liv Tyler, Kirsten Dunst and Zooey Deschanel as well as hundreds of brides.