Posture as an Energy Indicator

The other day in my Stretch/Body Awareness class, we did a very interesting exercise. I had my students follow each other around while walking in pairs with one person behind the other. As the followers observed from behind, I asked them to look at the posture and alignment of the person in front of them. I mentioned the strike of the foot – whether the heel touched down first or the ball of the foot; whether there was more weight on the outside or inside of the foot; did the feet wing out, move forward, or wing in; did one foot swing differently than the other? We moved up the body observing how much the knees bent, the hips and shoulders moved, how deep the breath was, how the arms swung, and the angle of the head.

As the follower noticed how the person in front moved, I asked the them to imitate the postural habits that were being observed. As they became more adept at walking like their partner, I then asked them to attempt to experience what it felt like to walk that way. What kind of emotions came up? How might this posture translate into how they felt about themselves and what it felt like interacting with the world this way? How much energy did they feel? As I mentioned in a previous blog from 2010, habitual posture translates into our attitude about life. I called that blog Posture as Philosophy.

When I wrote the previous blog, I was noticing the physical, emotional, and mental patterns that developed according to the habitual alignment that individuals maintained. Since then I have refined some of my observations about a person’s posture and what it indicates about their outlook on life.

For example, if a person regularly holds their weight primarily on their heels, it could indicate that they are reluctant to move forward. We can think of our legs and feet as a metaphor for moving forward emotionally and mentally, as they certainly are in a physical sense. If so, by maintaining a backward physical balance point perhaps we are indicating that we are not ready or maybe afraid to move forward emotionally or mentally when presented with a new opportunity. If this becomes our habitual stance might this mean we are constantly unsure about the future? Afraid to try new things? Have a mistrust about whatever might come our way? We may be in a real sense dragging our heels!

Conversely if we stand with our weight balanced on both the balls and heels of our feet, we may find that we can move forward more easily. In fact, it is easier to move in any direction when we are coming from a point of balance, so there is a greater sense of flexibility. Physically flexibility parallels emotional and mental flexibility.

Furthermore, when we stand by supporting ourselves on our heels we can quickly be overpowered by a good shove from any direction. However, like a tree whose roots are spread out all around the trunk, when our weight is evenly distributed on our feet, we can withstand a sharp push from any direction much more easily. We are already unbalanced when we rest on our heels so any small blow can topple us over.

All of these observations helped me to assist clients and students in changing their postural alignment. They immediately grasped the significance of what their posture was saying about their attitude about their lives. Many worked to change any imbalances and found that as their physical posture changed, their attitudes changed as well.

What I hadn’t understood at that point was that posture also creates energetic patterns.

A couple of years ago, in my energy medicine practice, I had the urge to check how energy was moving through a client’s body as she stood in her usual hyperextended knee stance. When the knees are locked back then the rest of the body will counteract the imbalance in alignment that is created, usually by tilting the pelvis, making the lower back arch, the stomach pooch out, the shoulders to push back, and the head to move forward. For every zig in body alignment there will always be counteracting zags.

While my client was in this zig-zag alignment, she tested weak for connecting up with yin energies. This meant she was not receiving about 50% of her available resources of energy. Just by standing in a misaligned physical posture! As soon as I asked her to bend her knees softly and bring her weight more over the balls of her feet, her pelvis came back into line, her lower back lengthened out, her stomach stopped pooching out and her shoulders and head came to rest in more anatomically correct positions. I retested her connection to yin energies and she suddenly tested strong, indicating that she now had use of all of the resources of energy available to her.

This was, for me, a striking insight! Although, as a former dancer, I had certainly understood the need for correct postural alignment in order to execute dance movements, I hadn’t fully understood that misaligned joints would affect how energetic forces (yin and yang) could be absorbed and utilized. Now it became even more apparent to me how important correct posture was for everyone, even beyond the more obvious physical, emotional, and mental benefits.

I began to check this out with my other clients and found that across the board how a person was routinely standing had a huge effect on how they were able to absorb and utilize yin and yang energies. Nowadays, I am always alert to how a new client stands and holds their body and am quick to demonstrate that posture is one sure way that they can very effectively begin to have more vitality on a physical level which translates into more vitality on an emotional, mental, and energetic level.

What does your current posture say about how you feel, think, and move forward, not only on a physical, emotional, and mental plane, but also on an energetic level?

Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Clinical Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches classes and workshops in Stretch/Body Awareness, Energy Body Tune-up, and Jazz Dance. For more information, email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com, call 781-354-0725, or visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.

© 2019 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

Yin and Yang – Non-Identical Twins

Yin and Yang energies are very different in aspect, outlook, and appearance. Yet they come from the same parentage, namely, Source. Although we often think they are separate and function in completely different ways, the truth is that there is some Yang in Yin and some Yin in Yang. Each of these opposing yet complementary energies needs the other to operate at their highest potential. Balancing the two energies is one of our important life quests in order to function at our highest and best health.

Balancing yin and yang isn’t the act of maintaining an equal and static position like measuring gold with weights to determine the exact value of the valuable metal. Yin/Yang balance is a constantly fluctuating equilibrium as we are faced with the challenges and joys of human life. In some life situations, we might wish to use more Yin energies to manage what is before us. Likewise, another situation might best be served by utilizing more Yang energies.

Yin and Yang have often been described through observations of polarities, e.g., night and day; cold and warm; wet and dry; inward and outward; soft and hard. In the traditional Chinese symbol, Yin is represented by the black side with the white dot in it, and Yang is represented by the white side with the black dot in it. The small dots of opposing color illustrate the concept that some Yang can be found in yin and vice versa.

The relationship between Yin and Yang has been described in terms of sunlight playing over a mountain and a valley. Yin, or the shady space, is the dark area obscured by the mountain’s bulk, while Yang, or the sunny place, is the bright, easily seen portion. Interestingly, as the sun moves across the sky, Yin and Yang gradually trade places with each other, revealing what had been obscured and masking what had previously been revealed. Thus Yin and Yang represent opposite, equal, and complementary qualities. Further, whenever one quality reaches its peak, it will naturally begin to transform into the opposite quality. Like an undertow in the ocean, Yin and Yang transform into each other like waves coming into the shore and then retreating, only to rise and fall over and over again.

What are the individual features of Yin and Yang? Below is a chart that illustrates some of the opposite/complementary characteristics of each of these energies.

YIN YANG
Water Fire
Moon Sun
Cold Heat
Dark Day
Night Light
Autumn and Winter Spring and Summer
Receptive, introspective Active, Assertive
Inward directed Outward directed
Deep Superficial
Solid Hollow
Internal Surface
Creative Logical
Flow up from the Earth Flow down from the Heavens
Associated with “feminine” qualities Associated with “masculine” qualities

Beware of thinking of the above features as absolutes. Nothing in the universe or in life is simply black or white. Each exists in the other and each needs the other in order to exist. Remember that both energies are transforming into each other as well, so while they appear to be polar opposites they cycle from one aspect of the duality to the other aspect constantly.

Historically there has been some use of the “feminine” and “masculine” aspects of Yin and Yang to justify a pecking order, namely that Yang energies trump Yin energies. Thus we have seen women considered inferior to men and barred from taking positions of leadership. Nothing could be farther than the truth. This is why the chart lists the associated gender qualities last. Although there is some relationship to gender, it is very subtle and not meant to be pejorative or restrictive.  Jared Osborne, a Men’s Coach, QiGong Teacher, and Transformational Psychotherapist, has this to say:

… “Quite often men are described as Yang and women as Yin. This can be true when compared to each other. But it depends on what you’re comparing – and even when. For example, physical characteristics: height, strength, hardness, and an outwards focus are all things we can ascribe as Yang and (generally) ascribe to a man as compared to a woman. However, emotionally, who is more Yin and Yang? I’d contend a woman is more Yang emotionally than a man: stronger, seen, outwards. Man tends to be a more inwards, hidden, passive emotionally.”

It is interesting to look at the various facets of our lives in the context of Yin and Yang. When might a more Yin approach be more productive and where might a Yang approach be more useful? If we have a colleague, friend, or family member who is undergoing a difficult life transition, would it be most helpful to offer reflective, introspective comments or superficial, assertive declarations in our conversations? When a meeting is scheduled for a yearly performance review, would it be better to actively state our accomplishments or to quietly wait for the reviewer to notice what we have achieved? In our current political climate, we can see how Yin and Yang energies play out and can imagine how a different tack might change the dynamics.

The natural world around us also reflects the concepts of Yin and Yang. It makes sense that spring is a Yang season. It is a time of growth – seeds are beginning to burst from their opened husks, sending shoots from under the earth and up towards the sun. Leaves unfurl; birds lay eggs; animals wake from hibernation and breed and give birth; and the planet grows green with vibrancy and expansion – all qualities of Yang energy. The summer then celebrates the expansion of Yang energies into the most sumptuous and extravagant design! We humans feel alive and enlarged and we are motivated to move our bodies actively at the beach, in the mountains, at parties, in joyful groups mingling and socializing. We feel expansive and want to make the most of this very Yang period!

Suddenly summer ends and we find ourselves moving into the Yin season of autumn. This abrupt change into the energies of contracting and harvesting of what has grown during the spring and summer can feel harsh and restrictive by contrast. Although we are reaping the benefits of summer’s bounty, there is a melancholy that may overcome us when we realize that we are entering a colder, more introspective period of the year. And yet, there is now a chance for us to rest and review what we have learned through the riotous boom time of the past season. What worked and what needs to be changed? What no longer serves us and how can we shed inoperable ways of functioning?

Winter deepens our desire to go within and delve into the depths of ourselves. Because we have acclimated to the Yin forces throughout the autumn, we are able to turn ourselves to the creative side of Yin introspection. Thoughts swirl in our minds as the winds outside do likewise. Ideas begin to surface, new ways to approach old issues arise, and hope begins to sprout. We may begin planning our literal physical gardens for the coming Yang spring season as well as the metaphoric gardens of new careers, new adventures, or new relationships.

Knowing that the seasons blend from one to the other can help us to understand the partnership that Yin and Yang play in our lives. In a very real way it is hard to separate the two energies from one another because they are different sides of one whole. Each would not function well without the other, precisely because they are constantly transforming into the other. We need both to be fully functioning and healthy in the daily balancing of our bodies, emotions, thoughts, vitality, and relationships. Yin and Yang.

© 2018 by Sheila Peters. All rights reserved.

Sheila Peters is a certified Eden Energy Medicine Practitioner, Reiki Practitioner, and wingWave©Coach. She also teaches classes and workshops: Stretch/Body Awareness, Energy Body Tune-up, Crystals and Healing Stones, Chakras, Jazz Dance and more. For more information, email Sheila at: sheilapetersdance@gmail.com, call 781-354-0725, or visit Sheila’s website at: www.energymedicineanddance.com.