When The Heart Leads


Through teaching yoga, dance and a college course on relaxation, I have the great opportunity every year of seeing how hundreds of bodies move, sit and carry themselves. Part of what I do in every class is to offer instruction and provide experiences that help us get in touch with the way we carry ourselves throughout our days. I return to this regularly because so many of us live hunched over a screen; head thrown forward of the body, chest collapsed in on itself, shoulders rounding in, and back over-stretched.

In class, we often talk about not only the physical and physiological problems this creates for us, but what this posture does to our minds, emotions and energies. We come to this topic from the knowing and the felt experience that the body and the mind are one; what you do to one, you do to the other. And while the list is long around the physical imbalances of a body bent forward for years on end, my personal and professional experience tells me that perhaps more detrimental than anything else is that when a human being spends prolonged amounts of time in this shape, a kind of dangerous imprint gets formed in both soma and psyche that travels through us, out of us and into the world.

Head first and heart collapsed is how I would describe it. A head too far ahead for its own good, and for the good of the body. And a heart shrouded, closed off and shut down. Try it yourself. Get in the position of being wrapped around a device and notice your heart and mind. Then, try the opposite: Pick up your gaze, lean back, draw your head in line with your body, settle the shoulders back and lengthen up. A whole new version of you gets created just by changing your physical shape; a version that is at ease, balanced and open in body, mind and heart.

Could we not use more of this in the world? Instead of the head taking the lead, leaning too far forward, leaving the body behind as if we were all sprinters trying to make it over the finish line first, what if we decided to lean back and look up? How might we feel? What might we see? Become aware of the two images in your mind. More importantly, feel the difference between the two throughout all of the layers of you. How we carry our bodies speaks volumes about how we think and feel and believe. And how we think and feel and believe translates into how we act in the world. What exactly are we shaping and positioning ourselves for?