What Posture Type Are You?


Most people don’t have perfect posture like the woman in the image above.  There are four types of postural alignment that deviate from the ideal. They are known as Kyphosis, Lordosis, Sway Back and Flat Back.  The type of posture you have impacts on the way you use the muscles in your body.  Take a look at the following images to learn more.

The first picture shows the typical posture of someone with kyphosis, i.e. a more pronounced curve in the thoracic spine giving them a hunched look and a concave chest…

Kyphotic Posture

The second picture shows someone with lordosis, i.e. an increased lower back curve…

Lordotic Posture

The next image shows the typical posture of someone with Sway Back.  This posture type has the effect of making the upper body look as though it’s leaning backwards…

Sway Back Posture

The next image shows someone with a typical Flat Back posture, where there is little or no lumbar curve…

Flat Back Posture

Finally, although not strictly speaking one of the four types of postural alignment, the Military type posture is often seen and is characterised by the chest being pushed forward and an increased lumbar curve, resulting in short, tight hip flexors and lower back muscles, and weak, lengthened hamstrings and abdominal muscles…

Military Posture

It is useful to know your posture type in order to understand which muscles are overworking and those which are underworking.  One of the key benefits of Pilates is that it can address these muscle imbalances.  An experienced Pilates teacher can show you which exercises will help bring your posture into a more ideal alignment by helping to release tight muscles and strengthen those which are weak.

Not sure which type of posture you have?  Why not ask Melissa the next time you attend a class.


The Healing Power Of Yawning


WARNING – this news item on yawning is highly contagious. Don’t be surprised if just reading it makes you yawn.

An interesting research paper (on which this news item is based) by Andrew Newburg, director at Pennsylvania University’s Centre for Spirituality and the Mind, provides compelling evidence that yawning is more than just the brain telling us a little rejuvenating sleep is needed. It is one of the best-kept secrets in neuroscience. Yawning has been used for decades in voice therapy as an effective way to reduce performance anxiety and hypertension in the throat. Brain scan studies further show that yawning brings about a unique neural activity in an area of the brain called the precuneus, which plays a key role in consciousness, self-reflection and memory retrieval. Yawning therefore helps regulate our sense of self and helps us become more introspective and self-aware.

Some other facts about the precuneus – 1) it’s also stimulated by deep breathing, which is synonymous with Pilates of course. 2) it is one of the areas hardest hit by age-related diseases and attention deficit problems, so it is possible that deliberate yawning may actually strengthen this important area of the brain. 3) the precuneus is also directly involved in generating social awareness and feelings of empathy, which means yawning may even help enhance our ability to relate to and communicate better with others.

In addition to activating the precuneus, yawning also regulates the brain’s temperature and metabolism. It takes a lot of energy to stay consciously alert.  Studies show that yawning can help the brain maintain optimum health thereby performing tasks with greater accuracy and ease. When our normal sleep pattern is disturbed, e.g. through too many late nights, yawning can also help reset the brain’s internal clock. In addition, it can ward off the effects of jet lag and ease the discomfort caused by high altitudes.


There is a stigma in society attached to yawning of course. It’s considered rude to yawn. However, with overwhelming evidence that yawning doesn’t just relax you, but brings about a heightened state of cognitive awareness faster than any other mediation technique, it’s time we embraced the activity with open mouths.

Given that we now know that yawning positively influences more functions of the brain than any other human activity, Andrew Newburg recommends that we yawn as many times a day as possible – on waking, when confronting a difficult problem, when feeling angry, anxious or stressed, when meditating, when preparing to go to sleep. It’s easy to do, takes less than a minute and gives your facial muscles a good work-out. To trigger a deep yawn, do six or seven fake ones and eventually a real one will emerge. And don’t stop there. By the tenth or twelfth yawn, you’ll really start to feel the power of it. Your eyes might start watering, your nose might run, but you’ll also feel relaxed, highly alert and completely present in your body. And if you find you can’t stop yawning, you’ll know you’ve been depriving yourself of an important neurological treat.


Pilates on The One Show

One of the workshops I attended at the Pilates Foundation annual conference weekend recently was  An Evening With Mary Bowen.  Mary is one of the Pilates Elders who studied with Joe and Clara Pilates, in Mary’s case for over six years beginning in 1959.  It was a lively and inspiring Q&A session.  And now everyone has the chance to hear her words of wisdom because this Friday 16th May, Mary Bowen will be on The One Show on BBC1 at 7 pm, along with Penny Jones, one of the directors of the Pilates Foundation, the most reputable governing body for Pilates teachers in the UK. Mary and Penny will talk about the history of Pilates and the significant health benefits it can provide to all of us.

Mary Bowen

Now in her eighties – not that you’d know this from looking at her (see above image) – Mary Bowen has studied Pilates continuously for 56 years, taught it for 39 and is also a practising Jungian psychoanalyst. A former comedienne and actress, Mary now travels the world talking about her life and work, while still maintaining a busy Pilates practice in the US.  A documentary film about her, The Myriad Movements of Mary Bowen has just been made and had its UK premiere at the Pilates Foundation conference.

A unique and inspiring woman, do try and catch her on the TV, either live on this Friday’s The One Show at 7 pm, or later at your leisure when the programme becomes available on the iPlayer.

Pilates Foundation Conference – 10th to 11th May 2014


The annual conference of the Pilates Foundation, the main governing for Pilates teachers in the UK, takes place this weekend in London from the 10th to 11th May 2014.  For this reason there will be NO CLASS AT EMBODY PILATES STUDIO IN CLEVEDON ON SATURDAY 10TH MAY 2014.  Rather than miss a week, perhaps those of you who normally come to the Saturday class could join one of the other open-to-all classes on the timetable if it’s convenient.

The conference weekend is a key annual gathering of the Pilates teaching community where we discuss Pilates issues, share ideas and experiences and attend workshops.  It is a chance to keep learning and growing as Pilates teachers.  I always return from the conference inspired and keen to incorporate the latest thinking into my classes.

Look forward to teaching you soon.