Walking with Intention

“Stand up straight, you silly girl!” Mrs. Haddad would say to me. She was my ballet teacher but she could have been a Navy Seal as far as I was concerned.

We would practice standing up as tall as we could while imagining we were holding “Mommy’s large china plate.” The idea was that wherever we moved this imaginary plate, we would stand proudly with long necks, chests forward and shoulders back and down.

She had a way of instilling the discipline of good posture. She taught me that the way you hold yourself is indicative of how well you believe in yourself and offers more opportunity for connection. True, in this case, connection meant between the music and me. Learning to evoke emotion through movement. It also meant connecting with the audience. Using technique to allow the body to move more freely through grace. Turning choreography into a living emotional experience.

Practicing yoga operates in a similar way. A proud, erect posture is no different than samasthiti. It requires a degree of necessary pride because it takes discipline to uphold, a certain level of grounded “togetherness.” Consistency is required to progress through the technique of the sequence of steps. Unlocking areas of the body and making them free and strong. Coming to practice and fully embracing emotions without letting them direct you. But there is no music nor audience. Your breath creates the rhythm and your willful concentration creates the connection to what is the true self.

How you carry your body as you walk around offers insight into your mental and emotional health. The yoga practice will help you to control your muscles and skeleton so that you can walk tall. However, it’s so easy to go right back to poor postural habits once you leave the mat. This is where the connection piece comes into play. Having had the opportunity to connect with yourself on the mat, can you uphold that or at least periodically tap into that connection elsewhere?

I find the simplest way for me to dip back into this connection is to adjust my posture. Bringing awareness to my steps. While I am walking am I looking at the floor or directly in front of me? Imagining that if I were to run into something it would be my chest first, my head staying back in line with my shoulders. Where is Mommy’s plate?! Staying disciplined to stand erect and meeting people at eye level. Meeting someone directly in that way allows an opportunity to see the other person and to be seen myself. Creating room for connection. Not needing an audience to project.

I would suggest as your own social experiment, seeing the effects of an upright posture as you go throughout your day. Even setting a reminder timer midday to check in. What does it do for you? Does it provoke anxiety at being seen by others? Does it make others feel at ease?

I know what it does for me, but I don’t want to give it all away or impact your experience. Also, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with being silly. I enjoy being silly! BUT if I am to take myself seriously and make a difference in how I interact with myself and connect with others, then I need to walk tall.