operates under the laws of physics--that of gravity and momentum, inertia,
Seems pretty obvious, but we forget sometimes that gravity is the single
largest external contributing factor to pain in the body. Misaligned parts
cause shortness in compensating muscles and an equal and opposite set of
over-stretched muscles corresponding.
It's said that in this particular age of humans, the evolutionary contribution
we are making is the development of the rational mind, the faculty of critical
thinking and creative intellectualism. That said, many people have difficulty
staying in the body as all their focus goes into their heads. If you look
around, particularly at people who spend a lot of time thinking, you'll see it
in their physical bodies--heads that are held fixed still and thrust in front
of the upper body. The rest of the body, borne down by the subconscious
compensations necessary to remain upright in gravity, adjusts accordingly--one
pattern might be that the chest sinks, bringing the heart into a subordinate
position to the head, the shoulders come forward to balance out the hump in the
upper back, the stomach pooches forward, and the legs hyperextend.
Other patterns are possible, depending on the psychological makeup of the
person and/or other factors both internal and external. The point is, gravity
will assure a global effect of any imbalance in structure or function in the
body. It makes us accountable.
The tendency of the head to dominate is one of the reasons why yoga emphasizes
so much the lifting of the heart, the leading of the heart in motion, at the
same time as the belly (identity) is stabilized. This puts the head
automatically in its rightful position--as active and alive, receptive of vital
energy from below it, but ultimately as an instrument--where thoughts serve the
person, but are not ends in themselves.
allowing the breath to do the work when we move...
We pay so little attention to the breath, but it's the interface between our
inner and outer worlds, and thus it shapes the form we inhabit, the effect of
that interface. The inhale demonstrates our reaching out into the world,
pulling in life and owning our vitality--it's why it's called
"inspiration." The exhale shows our ability to let go and ground,
allowing the universe to hold us.
One interesting exercise I remember from my Rolfing training was walking around
the room, and first imagining that our insides were completely water, then
letting that go, and imagining that instead we were walking around and the
environment was completely water. Those of us who preferred inhaling liked the
first scenario better; those of us who liked the exhale better felt more
comfortable walking around in water.
It's not really relevant here
why people prefer one or the other (there's some long explanations about
cranial waves in flexion or extension preference, but it could just be karma or
astrology). Inhale-people tend to have ribs that are more lifted in the front,
and more barrel-like looking at them from the side. Exhale-people have ribs
that are more depressed in the front, and flatter looking at them from the
side. This is connected with mood as well--inhale people breathe more into the
chest and tend to be more upbeat but less grounded, and exhale people are more
belly-breathers and tend towards depression or self-absorption.
These are tendencies that will often dominate when we are not conscious of
breath. Our fears and our patterns will direct and maintain our posture. When
we are conscious of breath and begin to allow it to unfold and lead us, rather
than remaining an effect of fear of looking within (inhale people) or looking
without (exhale-people), our attention turns that fear into a challenge to
stretch beyond, a place to find joy and creativity and expansion.
Here's my reasoning. I am an exhale-person, with depressed ribs that look very
flat from the side. I adore exhaling and can breathe out forever, and when I'm
not aware of it my tendency will be to sink down into my exhales and barely
breathe in at all. However, when I start looking at this pattern and saying
hello to my breath, then my inhales become intriguing, and as I explore
expanding my ribs the glorious stretch to intercostal muscles rarely used
becomes a place of bliss--a place where I haven't been aware that I can grow my
universe. It just feels good, it feels like a stretch that I don't get on the
exhale. And that goes both literally and figuratively.
So--we let the breath do the work when we move, in yoga or in daily life. And
when we start paying attention to the breath and allowing it to lead us, it's
like giving control over to the soul rather than the ego and
personality--letting spirit guide us rather than the instrument, going beyond
our fears and defense mechanisms and transcending the perpetuation of patterns.