©2008 Mark B. Anstendig

The first thing any self-improvement disciplines like Yoga, Zen, Tao, and most sports, should do is establish healthy, perfect posture. If the body is not held correctly, no number of exercises and no disciplines will ever work correctly. And if the posture is wrong, most anything one does will eventually cause harm to the body and the person. And that harm will almost never be recognized as being the result of wrong posture.

Key to all posture is the angle of the chest to the rest of the body and the angle of the neck to the chest. The alignment of the neck to the chest and of the whole construction, neck and chest, to the rest of the body regulates and determines almost everything else in the body, especially the breathing and the working of the internal organs.

The neck and head should be absolutely vertical. But the angle of the neck to the chest is a fixed angle, to which the body always tends to return, and that angle has little leeway for change. That means that, if the neck is angled forwards, as in most cases, the whole chest-neck construction has to be realigned. That is accomplished by imagining a metal bar thrust through the armpits, from one side to the other, and sticking out of both sides. One then, using great effort in ways that must be shown by a teacher, changes the angle of the whole chest and neck complex, as though it were pivoting around that bar clockwise, as seen from the left side. On the Path of Liberation, that should only be accomplished under the instruction of a master-teacher who has completed the liberation and can demonstrate exactly how it is done. Like most other steps of the Path, it is important for the candidate to be able to see exactly what the whole action looks like, in order to perform it correctly.

The point being made here is that, however one can accomplish it or however anyone might already have it naturally, the angle of the neck and head, as aligned to the chest, has to be exactly upright and not tilted even slightly down for the body to work correctly and with greatest possible health. Even the highest disciplines of the world recognize the need for best alignment of the body, head and chest and tend to it right at their outset. If anyone finds a teacher or guru, etc., for any such disciplines or sports, who does not establish perfect posture right from the outset, using effective technical means, not just telling you to straighten up, one would be well advised to find another teacher.

In order to ever achieve truly good, correct posture, one must organize and change everything in one’s life so that it fosters correct physical alignment. That immediately rules out all seat backs of any kind that are angled back, all laptop computers whose screen is not at eye height, when sitting upright and looking straight ahead, and any other contraptions, TVs, or appliances used for extended lengths of time that cause the person to lean forward and/or look down. That especially includes all car seats that are angled back, instead of being upright. And especially all theater and concert hall seats that are angled back. The need for upright seating is especially true for theater and music halls, because angling the seats back and causing the neck to be angled forward in relation to the body also results in less sensitivity, especially to sound, but also visual to images. And, of course, such seating results in unhealthy angling of the body and eventually to health “conditions” or outright health problems.