What your posture says about you

Posture is so important. It expresses, in the moment, our mood and our intention and over time, it shows who you are. Once you get to know it, posture can tell you a lot about a person. But posture is too often used in arts like tai chi, yoga, pilates and other movement based therapies as a kind of stick to beat people with. Even in zen you hear about the old master who beats the new student if they do not sit “correctly”. What is “correct” posture anyway? Surely correct posture is the appropriate posture for the moment. If you are bolt upright with your spine straight as a board as so many postural advice columns suggest, aren’t you simply trading one set of confines and tensions for another? Chest out, shoulders back, back straight. How do you feel? Relaxed? Calm? Centred? Or do you paraspinal muscles feel tense, your shoulders slightly pinched and your chest a little awkward?

Posture isn’t something to force into, we have to melt into it. Calm the mind and spirit. Keep attention on the posture, but in a free way. Let your body open and dissolve away tension.

I think everyone has an ideal posture – but it is always context specific. It is always the correct posture for that person at that time. To deny your natural postural instincts is surely to deny your nature? Who doesn’t shiver when they are cold? It is a natural response. Who doesn’t slightly tense up when they are frightened? It is a natural response. The trick is not to get stuck in one posture, but to allow yourself to move through all of them.

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