Teaching at Cuddington on Thursday led to a conversation about people watching. About how much we can tell of a person from their postural tendencies and the attitude of their body. Posture can be effected by many different things; physical restrictions, such as weak or tight musculature or previous injury, lifestyle; driving and computer work and emotional components. Also each interlinks and compounds on the tendencies of the others, especially the emotional factor. Our emotional responses  to the world and how we feel about life are reflected in our physical bodies.

When we start a yoga practice, one of the first things we notice outside of class is an increased postural and breath awareness. This increased awareness in itself is often the first thing we need to change. We may notice how we hold our breath when we concentrate, how shoulders creep upwards when we drive or are stressed, We may see how the breath naturally lengthens and deepens when we relax, and focuses in our chest if we are anxious. Our breathing patterns are linked to emotional responses and thought patterns and this is also demonstrated more physically in our posture and how we move.

There is a lot of unspoken communication through body language. Reading the clues to character and emotion on others is often just a case of noticing. This can then help us to notice tendencies in ourselves. We are able to work with our emotions and our thoughts by opening our physical posture and being less restricted. It is amazing the way that opening the physical body to the world allows us to open ourselves to more possibilities in the world.

I know myself how much more open I am to love, to happiness and to the breath since developing a more regular practice. It is as two way process- where the awareness of physical tendencies has helped me to release those blockages, which then allow me to open emotionally and to the breath. I am not sure which way these patterns are dissolving, whether working with the breath helps the physical relaxing or whether improved physical awareness has helped my breath and my emotions to loosen up.

Most of us are aware that standing up straighter & holding our head high helps us to feel more confident. Now let us deepen that awareness by being aware of our breathing during the day & how it relates to our physical being. We can work on breath, on postural and emotional issues together with yoga practice, both in class & during our day to day lives. Awareness, of tendencies in ourselves and in others, is our first stage in change. Hence people watching may be the first step to learning about ourselves..especially if it involves a long coffee and sitting in the sunshine watching the world go by!

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