This article from 2012 was lightly edited and updated in 2020. For more on how alignment can affect whole-body and pelvic health, read Our Best "Healthy Pelvis" Resources.
In the movie The Sound of Music, Maria had to teach a bunch of kids wearing curtains how to sing. She suggested starting from the beginning. Here's the Do Re Mi of standing.
Stance: Step One
Align the outside edges of the foot with a straightedge (use a book, or the edge of a yoga mat or carpet).
Why straight? Because the leverage of your lower leg is maximized when you do so. Turning your feet out makes a shorter lever length.
Also, when you turn your feet out you sort of rock your ankle right to left more than hinge it straight up and down so you end up using your ankle in different-than-the-anatomy-works-best kind of way. Read Whole Body Barefoot for more on foot and ankle position, pronation and schmear.
P.S. I know, I have totally cool retro floors.
Stance: Step Two
When standing, open or close your ankles to the width of your pelvis.
In order to get a good pelvic list movement going, whether for the exercise or for the lateral hip contraction needed for walking (as opposed to falling), you need legs vertical. What's a Pelvic List? Read more and watch a video on that here.
Constantly check the width of your ankles when exercising or standing throughout the day to make sure they aren’t reverting to old patterns.
I often catch myself crossing my legs while I stand and while I sleep, so I have to stay mindful about this one all the time. WHY DO I CROSS THEM? I don't know. I'll keep checking in on MY body, and you watch yours like a hawk, OK?
Stance: Step Three
Mind your pelvis. Bring your pelvis (and your standing center of mass) back over your heels,
instead of out over the front of your foot:
If you're working on a neutral pelvis, know that it's not fully neutral unless it's paired with a neutral leg. If you’re working on restoring your pelvic floor, or your abdominals, or any part of your body back to health, check in on all three aspects of stance, all of the time, even while you’re walking.
But first, let’s start with standing shall we?