Posture is a predictor. A study by Galinsky and Huang published in Scientific American showed that subjects asked to adopt a wide and open posture were more willing to take risk and were viewed as having more authority by subjects who were allowed to slouch. Posture predicts your status. I have experienced it.
I had just entered an Alexander Technique teaching studio and I needed to use the bathroom. I approached the teacher and asked if that was okay. He said yes and no. Yes, you can certainly use the bathroom but not if you have to slump when you ask. Ouch. I had put myself in the posture of the supplicant. It is not attractive and it marks me and you as low in a hierarchy.
Here’s an exercise to improve your standing in the world. In a moment, not now, you’re going to stand with your back toward a flat surface, a wall, if one’s handy. I fear that as I ask you to do that, that you, like most others, are going to plaster your back to the wall. Please don’t do that. Now, when you’re ready, stand with your back toward the wall with a small distance between the wall and your heels, an inch or two. Depending on your size and stature, your back, your butt, or your shoulders will be touching the wall. All are okay for the moment. Don’t try to change that. Remain there a moment and melt into the wall; melt your ankles; melt your hips, and allow your back to receive the wall’s support. Stand with your feet under your hips, or possibly a bit wider, your feet aligned.
Begin to think, my legs are letting away from my torso. I’m giving up my torso’s hold upon them. I can, without doing anything, think my knees going forward. Just think it. Place your palms on the front of your pelvis with your fingers on your legs pointing down toward your knees. Let the fingers relax onto your legs and your palms relax and open onto your pelvis. Just the wish of it, no more.Let there be space between your legs and torso, a melting into nothingness, your leg joined to the torso but not owned by it. Do breathe, your pelvic floor descending with every inhalation.
Now, begin to send your knees forward, little by little, your knees going forward and your legs freeing from your hips at the same time. You may find that your knees can bend and travel forward a bit while your head and torso remain in place on the wall. Please don’t force that. You want just a bit of play in the hips, your knees going forward without pulling you down. This is something you might gain over weeks or months. Don’t enforce it.
Now, as your knees continue forward you’ll find your torso slipping down against the wall. Relax your back against the wall and enjoy that for a moment, your back remaining back, lengthening and widening as you breathe. Continue downward a bit, not too far, stop, and remain there for 15 or 30 seconds. Wait, and then straighten your knees very gradually, still breathing, as you come back to the position of standing.
There is risk in everything we do. Your breathing is the evidence of how well you’re doing. Is it deeper, fuller, is it more universal, involving the whole torso, back, front, thorax, and abdomen. If so you’re doing well. Explore the exercise with a friend. Teach one another, and if there’s a question do send it along to me. And remember, we’re a growingcommunity, please do share this with your friends.