Stress Eating and Your Posture

The other day, after depositing my bolster and blocks in the “yoga closet” at the rec center where I take classes, I walked down the long room to retrieve my jacket. The curtains that usually cover the wall-to-wall mirror at the end of the room were drawn, and without realizing at first that I was looking at myself, I noticed the uneven gait of someone walking toward me in the mirror.

Arrows indicate potential motion at the sacroiliac joints. (Image from Eric Dalton)

Arrows indicate potential motion at the sacroiliac joints. (Image from Eric Dalton)

Part of the reason I study yoga is to keep my fascia fluffy enough and my joints adaptable enough that my coordination can continue to be graceful even as my stamina wanes a bit with age. What I saw was a surprise. I was bobbing side-to-side, from one hip to the other. In a flash I pictured my mother and all my aunts walking this way in the long ago past. My sacrum sat stolidly between my innominate bones. There was no nutation through my sacroiliac joints and my feet were acting like stumps. There was hardly any contralateral rotation through my spine.

When a body is moving well, articulation of spine, pelvis and feet work together. I teach this stuff! How had I strayed so far, and so fast, from my values?

Consciousness is not a piece of cake

I was able to find my way out of the family pattern  by  lightly engaging  support through my core.  Only when the SI joints are supported by the deep corset muscles is it safe for them to meet their potential for movement. A supported pelvis subtly torques.

Smiling helped too. (See my post on how an inner smile  releases the neck.) I hadn’t been smiling much in recent weeks—I’d let setbacks in the production of my new book get me down. Literally—down. And (gulp), when overwhelmed by decision fatigue, I had sought solace from the refrigerator.

That last share—more than you wanted to know—might be a key  to the posture issues of many aging women. When we feel burdened by our responsibilities, our midlines compress. Then, when we eat too much, diminished interior space caused by spinal compression makes it uncomfortable to engage core support through the abdomen.


The result is that the lower spine is both compressed and unstable. The body as a whole responds to this by avoiding movement through the affected areas. The musculoskeletal system accommodates to distress in the viscera. By walking around my pelvis rather than through it, I had found a way to avoid the sensations of movement in the bloated zone of my lower intestines. I had made it through the gentle yoga class without noticing, but walking across the floor revealed the truth.


So there it is—the solution begins in the facing of a problem. I enjoy moving much too much to let this situation persist for long.