Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: pexels.com
During one of my last sessions with my therapist, I was discussing how I’ve walked, sat and stood with my shoulders bent forwards for most of my life. When I look at pictures of myself, I see this hunched posture everywhere. I used to think it was mostly because I was a tall child; I wanted to compensate for being taller than most of my classmates. But lately, I’ve noticed that this hunched position serves another goal: it allows me to protect my heart when it feels small and vulnerable. It allows me to close myself off from threat.
Sure, protecting myself can be a very good thing, but when it has become an overall habit to keep your heart closed off and out of reach, it makes it a lot harder to connect to that heart-space on a regular basis, let alone allow it to lead.
Yet, leading from the heart can have tons of advantages: We open up to the outside world, connecting to our environment and the people around us. We fall into alignment with our hopes and dreams, and have an easier time connecting to our emotions and intuition. We gain strength not from the walls we build around us, but from the foundation we build underneath us.
When I mentioned to my therapist that I’ve been paying closer attention to my posture since I’ve been practicing yoga, she pointed out that our heart-leading posture doesn’t so mucn depend on that chest moving forward, as it does on the core muscles getting stronger. Our core supports the rest of our body, and is key in keeping a strong back. In my yoga practice, the awareness deepenend and I felt how at the base of this core lies the energy of the pelvis. Whenever I’d move the pelvis forward, in alignment with the spine, the rest of my torso would follow without any real effort, almost like a fern unrolling itself upwards.
I’m not sure my posture will ever be completely straight. After 3 decades of living a hunched life, it might take just as long to de-hunch myself. Yet, I’m learning to let that vision go as well. Instead, I focus on the moment. I try to radiate my heart forward when I can, when I feel up to it, when I feel strong enough and even, sometimes, when it’s a bit scary. It allows me to plug into what I’m feeling and needing in that moment. It allows me to connect to what’s going on with more than just my brain.
It brings me closer to others, and closer to myself.