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Why write The Annals of Catastrophic Posture?

Three young girls in catastrophic posture, bending from the waist. They're outside and an adult is watching them. It's supposed to be healthy exercise, but it's not.
Yes, bending from the waist qualifies as Catastrophic Posture. So why was this poster hanging in in a healthcare facility?

I don’t like pointing my finger at other people’s flaws, having far too many of my own. So, there are times when publishing another edition of the Annals of Catastrophic Posture feels like taking pot shots at people who don’t know any better.

But here’s the thing: images of unhealthy posture are not neutral. They shape our idea of what acceptable posture looks like, and when they pop up in fashion, they tell us what we ought to be emulating if we want to be cool. (We do.)

These images are everywhere: magazines, shop windows, posters in health-care clinics, even emojis. We swim in an ocean of images of unhealthy posture, and being social animals, we imitate them.

Back pain is now an epidemic in our society. It strikes at younger and younger ages, and it lasts longer than it used to. It’s a looming public health disaster, and until we can distinguish between healthy and unhealthy posture, we’re not going to know how to stop it.

Not that long ago, people did know the difference. The philosopher Immanuel Kant might seem like an unlikely subject for the Annals of Catastrophic posture. But his crooked posture was well known and much remarked upon in his time. Now, Kant’s posture is not only common, it’s more or less how we expect people to look as they age. In fact, I’ve seen the same posture on a man out for a run in my neighborhood, and I will guarantee you that he is not famous among his friends for the state of his back.

So, Annals of Catastrophic Posture it is. The newest one, the LifeLabs edition, is now on my Spinefulness blog.

If you’re in the Vancouver area and would like to experience Spinefulness first hand, I’ll be teaching a Spinefulness intro session, 90 minutes to a more comfortable life, on Wednesday, October 2, from 6 to 7:30 pm. Click the link above for the address and other details.

• • •

Thank you again for all the friendly and supportive comments both on the blog and by email. Several of you asked me to not decommission the blog, so sure, I’ll leave it up. I’ll also fix the search function if anyone out there can tell me how to do it.

The next time you hear from me, the message will be coming from my Spinefulness blog. If that suits you, there’s nothing more to do. If you’re not interested, please unsubscribe below.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • John September 29, 2019, 9:55 am

    Check out Peter Blackaby on forward bends,you may find it interesting.

    • Eve September 30, 2019, 12:32 pm

      Hey John,
      Thanks for your suggestion. I did try to check out Peter Blackaby, but I’ve run into a deadend. His book isn’t on Amazon.ca or .com, nor are there any copies available on AbeBooks. I have no idea how long it would take to order from his website and have it shipped to the west coast of Canada. I may end up doing that, but in the meantime, would you be willing do do a brief synopsis?
      I did read in a review that he doesn’t recommend doing Upavistha Konasana, the wide-legged forward bend, and I’d love to know why.

  • Vicki September 26, 2019, 6:57 pm

    I live in Ottawa so can you give some suggestions or illustrations on proper posture. Would like to know more.

    • Eve September 30, 2019, 12:41 pm

      Hi Vicki,
      My best suggestion is to get a copy of Thea Sawyer’s book: Put Your Back at Ease. I owe Thea a huge debt of gratitude because her book started me on the path to Spinefulness. I had written a review of the re-issue of Noelle’s book, Sparks of Divinity, and Thea wrote to ask if I was interested in what Noelle had done in the years since she worked with Iyengar. In the end I bought her book, and after I tried one small exercise, a supine hitch, I was sold. The book is available on Amazon and at some bookstores. I’ll be writing a review/recommendation of it soon in the blog.
      And if you happen to know L.A., also in Ottawa, (in the comments above) why not connect and start getting that workshop together?

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