The Subtlety of Posture

I’ve talked about posture before and how strongly our mind & body are connected. How if we’re feeling crappy, we can adjust ourselves physically and our mind will follow. We can do this just with our face (in the west, often the most outwardly expressive part of us) or with our entire bodies.

What I’ve learned recently is just how subtle this body/mind interaction is.

After 20 odd years of Aikido, this shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did.

In Aikido, we often sit in seiza. Basically, you kneel with your knees apart, your bum on your heels, back arched and head up.

This posture is well known across the universe.

Here’s Spock doing it

(From this excellent site on Vulcan meditation. Ha ha, you think I’m kidding. Oh Internet, you have everything!)

The most important part of all this? The arched back. (Spock does it well)


If you prefer more beard, here’s how it looks from the front:

Long white beard is optional. Grass, preferred. Katana, mandatory.


The basic Aikido pin looks like this:

Shake my hand would you, fool?


No, wait, like this:

No! You sit over *there*!



Ok ok, I’m joking around. It’s actually like this:

See? There’s that seiza again. And you thought we’d just been sitting like that coz we hated legs.

(a few minor corrections – most importantly knees apart will drop her centre more, but that’s actually pretty good)

Now here’s where the arched back comes in.

When you’re on the receiving end (i.e. face down, eating grass) if the person doing the pins arches their back or not makes the difference between:

“Someone’s leaning on my arm”


“My entire being is pinned to the centre of the earth by a large truck”

What’s even more interesting is that when it’s done correctly, zero effort is expended, and the person is not just squashing you as hard as they can – that’s actually a weaker pin.

Now, out of the dojo, and back to real life.

Here’s what I’ve noticed: When I’m healing, or hell, doing anything sitting down, if I sit just that little bit straighter, and yes, arch my back, everything goes much better and becomes extraordinarily easier.

Stuff that might have been tricky to drop or heal falls away instantly.

I feel more in control of my code, my writing, my life. Things become… possible.


The only thing I’m changing is maybe pushing my butt further back on the chair, and arching my back, very, very slightly. Of course, this pushes one’s shoulders back and also tends to raise the head slightly – but really, it’s just a little back arch.

Such a subtle shift, such huge effect.