The Spiritual Meaning of Your Posture

The Spiritual Meaning of Your Posture


The way we carry ourselves in the world is powerful and can reflect deeper spiritual truths about the way we live our lives. What’s the spiritual meaning of your posture?

What do you notice about your posture right now as you are reading this? Are your shoulders hunched forward or tensed up to your ears? Are your legs crossed? What is your lower back doing?

Everyone’s posture is a little bit different, and of course if you have pain or other concerns, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor about it. But posture can also tell you a lot about what you’re feeling in your deepest inner self. What’s the spiritual meaning of your posture?

A Need for Self-Inquiry

As you notice what your posture is like, close your eyes and see if you can exaggerate your posture a little bit more. Notice what it feels like to be in this shape. Does it feel familiar? Do any memories come up? Does it feel like you are turning away from or towards something? Are you twisted in any way? After a few moments, shift your posture, loosen up, and sit in a more relaxed way. What do you notice here? What changed as you came out of the posture?

Sometimes our bodies hold a posture from a traumatic moment, as if they are frozen in time. Our posture may still be bracing for an impact or turning away from something we don’t want to see. This could also reflect an emotional moment that may not have been traumatic but still felt impactful: Do you feel like you’re being punched in the gut? Bending over backwards? How old do you feel in this shape? If your body could speak from this position, what would it say?

Common Standing Postures and Their Resonances

Hunched Forward, Heart Sunken Inward

If your chest is a little hollowed out or if your shoulders or head roll forward into your heart space, it’s likely you are protecting your heart from something. If your back tends to be more rounded, especially if you get pain in your upper back, there’s a tendency to try to protect your vulnerable parts. You may tend towards avoidance and isolation; for example, you do your best to solve your own problems before asking anyone else for help.

If this resonates with you, you may need to soften a little bit. Allow some vulnerability to come through in life in ways that still feel safe. Explore your ability to ask for help. Try lying over a yoga bolster to allow your heart to gently open. Consider getting a massage.

Belly Forward, Inward Curve in the Lower Back

When the belly pushes forward, the shoulders may or may not get dragged down (as above). This posture is more about a sagging heart caused by sadness that is unaddressed or simply very large. The heart may be protected, as above, but this posture is also pulling the heart and chest down, adding to a sense of helplessness or despair. The belly forward can indicate too much giving of the self to others, too much of a sense of vulnerability or being seen, too much putting your own needs last. What does it feel like if you lift your heart and let your lower back lengthen?

This posture is about support (or a lack thereof). Strength training, especially in the core, can provide a physical sense of strength and boundaries. Improving energetic and physical boundaries with others and getting the needs of the heart and the body met as best as possible will help to strengthen this posture.

Chest Puffed Up, Shoulders Wide, Abdomen Pulled In

This posture has a soldier-like, militaristic feel to it. The chest is forward, but the heart is still guarded. The energy around the chest and shoulders is protective rather than open and soft. This is a posture about finding power and protecting the self when the world feels unsafe for some reason. All the body’s energy is going into the chest and core, possibly at the expense of the root (sexuality, creativity, genuine connection), the throat (communication), and the head (clear seeing, empathy, spirituality). There is often a history of needs not being met relationally and a need to “do it all on my own.” For many people, especially men in male-dominated fields where this way of thinking is celebrated, this strategy is highly functional. However, it can cut off the possibility of genuine intimate relationships and can sometimes veil depression.

This posture can be supported over time by experiencing genuine relationships and safe spaces where one can feel vulnerable and share feelings. Discerning which people are safe enough to be genuine with and which are not is a part of this practice.

A Powerful Posture Practice

There are subtleties to everyone’s posture, and these generalities won’t necessarily apply to everyone. It’s more important to feel into the energy of your own posture and the way your body supports itself. Whatever you discover about your posture, try this and see if anything changes:

In a standing or upright position, close your eyes. Soften all of your joints so that no particular part of your body is working harder than another. Imagine you were floating in water, supported from all sides. Notice what this feels like emotionally or energetically.

Adjust your head so that your jaw relaxes (for most of us, that means lifting the chin slightly). See what it feels like to pull your shoulders back, allowing your heart to open. Try the opposite and notice what that feels like.

Now think about how you’d like to feel. Confident? Strong? Soft? Think about that quality, and see how your body shifts its shape. What did you learn about the spiritual meaning of your posture?

Do you know the spiritual meaning of lower back pain?

The Spiritual Meaning of Your Posture

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