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Shoulders Back!

I was very excited at the news that season two of Liz Gilbert's Magic Lessons podcast is now available. On her podcast, Liz Gilbert teaches artists how to deal with creative fear. I tend to identify with a lot of the artists she works with for one reason or another and her mentoring enlightens me. I absolutely love it. One particular story resonated with me this season. This dancer discusses how, after her 'lesson' with Liz, she started dancing with her heart, instead of dancing like she always had, with her shoulders. She had always seen her art as a hardship and would transfer all her energy into her shoulders to keep her light on her feet and bare the adversity.

I too had always done everything with my shoulders. All my energy was locked into my upper back and lifting my shoulders led me to believe I could carry more, and be stronger. Furthermore, by not breathing, I could concentrate better...

A few months ago, I spotted a flyer announcing a new yoga class starting at the community centre near me. I had been suffering from a pain in the neck and left shoulder for a while and I thought yoga, with its well-known physical and mental virtues, might provide some relief, so I signed up. Not to mention that my will power to go jogging had been withering away lately...

Shoulders Back

Absolutely wonderful is probably the best way I could describe it! I thought it would help tone my body and focus my mind, but I had no idea it would actually reach some rather deeply buried issues. Working on my breathing and posture, I felt a sense of release when holding my shoulders down and filling my lungs right to the top. This was a real challenge for me as years of bad posture had caused my shoulders to lock and roll forward, not only giving me a hunched look but causing terrible upper back pains. I immediately experienced a sense of well-being and tears came rolling down. I was rather surprised at this, I certainly did not expect such a strong outburst of emotion.

My teacher, the brilliant Jo Kuszmar, explains that 'good posture is not only about the physical: it brings with it improved confidence and a sense of well-being.' Standing with a hunch only conveys to others that one is in a position of self-defense, protecting one's back, therefore in a position of weakness. I needed to stand up straight thus increase my self-confidence and my personal space.

Like the ballet dancer on Liz Gilbert's podcast, I find myself with a new mission of breathing deeply, releasing my shoulders, thus improving my posture, in order to improve my creative flow and, well, my entire life! I only went in for a bit of exercise!


Yoga - Every Thursday 10-11am at the South Oxford Community Centre, Lake Street, Oxford, OX1 4RP - Jo Kuszmar (07723 027359 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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