Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself
Balanced posture reduces damaging stress on the body resulting in less pain and more energy. This is the basic premise of the Alexander technique. It takes practice to rewrite your neurological pathways so that new movements become natural. It’s the same with playing a musical instrument, dance, sports, etc.
The idea is to have your weight distributed evenly through your skeletal frame no matter what movement/position you are engaged in.
The fulcrum on which the head rests on the top of the spine is in line with the base of the ears. A common technique used to extend the neck muscles is to imagine a string going from the top of the spine through the top of the head. Now imagine you are lifting the head by the string. Long muscles are relaxed muscles. The back is relaxed (slightly arched) as well as the shoulders and weight goes straight through the sitting bones (Ischium) located at the bottom of the pelvis.
It may not feel relaxing at first due to decades of bad habits (picture a child working at a grade school desk), but the true core muscles (erector spinae and multifidus) line the spine and are designed to support posture for long periods of time. Using the lats., traps., and lumbar to hold your posture will expend far more energy for many reasons, one of which is simply that none of these muscles are long enough. You end up using at least 3 (more like 12) incorrect muscles to do a job which can be done by one correct muscle.
The reason most of us have poor posture: because we can. We are 3 dimensional beings; a frame instead of a truss. I can lean forward and backward as long as my center of gravity doesn’t move beyond my unrooted foundation (feet). By adding tension to muscles further from my spine, I can maintain balance. Over time this tension causes stress on those muscles and their connections, leading to pain and eventually tissue damage.
A supplicative (begging) demeanor will cause you to lean forward. This is my problem when I make a mistake while waiting on a table. I feel guilty and begin rushing to appease. Weight on my toes means excess tension in my calves, Achilles tendon, hamstrings, and much of my back. One way I correct this imbalance is by observing where the weight enters my supporting bones. The Talis is directly under the Tibia. When these are in line with the body’s center of gravity, the feet and legs are relaxed.
That’s the whole point: relax. If you aren’t in a hurry, your body is usually stress free. To learn the Alexander technique, it is most effective to pay a teacher so that they can see how you’re using your body. It’s not cheap, but it beats aching joints and muscles for half a century.
An article I read after this post explains another muscle I didn’t even know about, the Psoas. You can read the article here: https://bodydivineyoga.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/the-psoas-muscle-of-the-soul/