( Originally Published 1930 )
A graceful, natural and comfortable posture and an easy carriage may be acquired by following a few simple but basic rules. Old habits may be entirely overcome by the persistent application of correct methods.
These rules should be observed at all times, in every form of work, exercise, sport, relaxation, or leisure. These, together with the exercises that follow, are particularly valuable in correcting wrong posture or carriage in young children and youths. Habits of childhood form the foundation for future life.
Correct posture and balanced carriage are basic principles of the Indian system, and, while easy, require the most careful consideration and intelligent application.
The abdominal retraction of muscles should be exercised dozens of times daily until it becomes a habit to carry the muscles in and up with perfect ease. While out walking, stop occasionally to look in store windows or observe the beauties of Nature and take that opportunity to adjust your posture. Correct your carriage whenever you can make yourself think of it; that should be often until the habit is formed. Women should go without corsets and frequently practice exercises that strengthen the muscles of the abdomen, sides and back. It is not normal to depend upon a corset for support the only sensible dependence should be upon the muscles, weight placement and carriage as in-tended by nature.
The Indian, like the famous Japanese Ju-Jutsu, balances his weight within the radius of a small circle. Poised in the center, with correct weight placement and alignment, he will sway to and fro and around, always keeping a perfect balance. To get off center or off balance is to lose control of himself. When wrestling, he awaits attack from his opponent and, rather than meet him with strong resistance, steps quickly aside as his adversary lunges forward, allowing him, if unaware of such tactics, to fall clumsily to the ground; the object being not to hurt a man so much as to cause him to injure himself.
Figure 1 illustrates correct standing posture according to the Indian's idea. The dark lines indicate the muscles to be used and serve to demonstrate the emphasis of weight placement; the light lines indicate the muscles and joints to be kept flexible.
This posture is practiced by American Indians of all tribes who have preserved their ancient teachings. It accounts, in large measure, for their strength, agility and endurance as well as their supple grace and remarkable self-control.
EXERCISE 4.-I. Stand with the feet straight forward, placed about one or two inches apart (a).
2. Balance the weight forward, exactly between the heels and the toes, over the arches of the feet. The arch is the strongest type of architecture known, therefore the foot is so designed as to bear the weight of the entire body in the easiest and most efficient manner possible.
3. Flex the knees slightly, to permit of an easy spring. This relieves any jar produced by walking or jumping. Do not hold the knees stiff keep them perfectly limber and flexible.
4. Swing the hip joints backward until you feel the weight of the torso carried well forward over the thighs. In the thigh we find the longest bone and the largest muscles in the body, designed by Nature to carry the weight and help propel the body. Be careful not to hold the hips or buttocks rigid or tensed. Keep easily poised alert but easy, and ready for action.
5. Relax the spine all the way up and down and keep it perfectly flexible at all times. No well-trained Indian would be guilty of having a rigid spine, he knows it would prohibit freedom of movement and destroy his balance; besides it is entirely unnecessary and extremely fatiguing. Above all, be natural and never allow yourself to be strained in attitude of mind or body. Be careful not to overdo the posture for then you would become angular and unbalanced.
6. Draw the abdominal muscles in and up and keep them so. Get the habit. This does not mean to hold the breath. The diaphragm moves up and down quite independently of the abdominal wall. This position is much easier to maintain with a thoroughly pliable spinal column.
7. Lift the crown of the head high "feel tall." This will draw the chin into a normal position and poise the head gracefully. Stand tall ! Think right. Be clean minded, full of courage and strong.
8. Now exert a slight pressure backward at the base of the neck (c), at the hump. This will lift the chest to a normally erect position, without forcing it up, and will permit of easy breathing at the same time.
9. Flatten the shoulder blades by a slight downward movement. Io. Swing the arms and hands flexibly and freely from the shoulder joint, relaxed, but ready for instant use.
This posture insures the greatest amount of power while exerting the least amount of energy. It relieves the body from all unnecessary strain, prevents jarring and friction, is soothing to the nerves, saves the spine from shocks or wrenching, and brings untold comfort and relief.
The most perfect weight placement is thus secured by the natural system of leverage afforded by the extremely clever arrangement of bones, muscles, joints, and tendons. The long bones act as crow-bars ; the ankle, knee, and hip joints as fulcrums; the tendons support the structure, while the muscles provide the medium of power. The combination insures the most perfect balance and poise, together with the greatest conservation of energy, in every form of movement in which man may engage.
1. Imagine yourself suspended by a cord from the crown of your head. The alignment will coincide, in feeling, with the line shown in Figure 1.
2. Drop a plumb line (with a spool on the end) from the chandelier or the doorway. Stand before a mirror or in such a way that your body will cast a shadow on the wall. Correct your posture by standing plumb with the line as shown in Figure I. The line should appear to pass down through the body rather than straight at the back or front.