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I am reminded of the importance of good posture everyday in so many ways.

Here in Tucson, Arizona, I’m visiting my older sister whose “bad back” has finally caught up with her. As a seventy-seven year old, and having exhausted many different therapies, she now is facing a lamenectomy and L2-5 spinal fusion, next week. One of the complications that she presents with is a scoliosis.

I’m convinced that had she learned optimum ways of standing, sitting, lying over the years (especially yoga) that she might have warded off the orthopedic surgeon.

Yoga helped me delay hip replacements for 18 years, sped my recovery, and keeps the “machinery” oiled.

More and more, in my yoga teaching, I’m emphasizing basics of postural alignment. I go on to teach more complicated poses, but the foundations must be there first.

I really enjoyed being a participant in John Norris’s yoga class the other night, as he had us work the little toe side of our feet, lifting the much-neglected outer arch of the foot. This might sound like minutiae and even become tedious in a 105 minute session, but such strong footwork connects you with the outer hips, which are posture stabilizing muscles – much underrated and underdeveloped in women especially, I’ve observed.

Try on doing your standing poses – down dog, triangle, the warriors – pressing down at the back of the big toe bone and lifting the little toe side of your foot. It might change the way you practice and save your back!