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The Harmony Of Verticality


Our body is made of curves. Their harmonious sequence maintains our verticality and supports our drive towards self back stretching. If we observe these curves, we can see how dynamic our structure is. In other words, our bodies are incredibly vibrant, like the string of a musical instrument.


This article is a reflection on the parallel between a healthy human body and musical harmony.  It also offers an exploration of body’s parts alignment which is based on my experience in dance and yoga practice.


 


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Body and its music


To be steady or perfectly vertical, that means aligning the bone structures (pelvis, rib cage, skull), joints (ankle, knees, hip) of our body in order to preserve its natural curvatures. If I transpose this explanation in terms of music: our body is like a string, a potentiality of a melody given to us, the curvatures represent the harmonic notes, an embodiment of the vibration. To illustrate this point I invite you to look at the following illustration which parallels the movement of a vibrating string with the human skeleton.


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Left: The curves and counter curves of the human body are easy to observe: the tibia - convex curve; the femur - concave curve; the sacrum (+ the coccyx) - convex curve; lower back - concave curve; the dorsals - convex curve; cervicals - concave curve.


Right: In purple, rope at rest, in orange, amplitude of the moving rope. Harmonic 1 or Fundamental, whole string in vibration, Harmonic 2 - half of the string, Harmonic 3 - third of the string etc ...


If the body remains motionless, it risks losing harmonious alignments. Like a guitar string, stretched and motionless, needs to start to vibrate, to undulate in order to produce sound, our body can find harmony again through the movement which is at the origin of life. With this approach, the search for vertical balance in everyday life and in postural practice becomes a creative process, a ritual of connection to the source, to the vibratory origin.


Dynamic morphology


The vertical balance invites us to consider the body as a whole as a living entity that follows the physical laws. Thus, we find, for example, a series of inverted curves in the process of development of the embryo. The human form comes from this movement which is also reminiscent of a tourbillon. The dynamic morphology of embryonic development draws curves for us that create space between the points of consonance. As in music, when the notes are too close the sound is dissonant, so space is needed to create harmony. Movement is an ideal partner to create harmonizing space.


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This illustration was borrowed from Dr. Jaap van der Whal, embryologist and fascia specialist. In his book on Dynamic Morphology and the Development of the Human Form, this drawing is accompanied by a quote from Rudolf Steiner: “The human form is a form that arises from movement”.


As we just seen above, on the skeleton of an adult we will find this dynamic. In the search for vertical balance, it is interesting to schematically represent the bone structure. So, to understand what daily work we must do to support and preserve the harmony of our verticality.


Find harmony. Where to start ?


According to French osteopath Bernadette Gastineau : « The harmonious vertical posture refocuses us, puts our feet on the ground and our head on our shoulders ». 


We are often not quite on our feet, physiologically speaking and also symbolically. Lack of grounding manifests itself in poor posture, and at times, is reflected in emotional instability. Balance, axis, stability begins with the feet. Observing where we take our body weight and learning how to distribute it all over the foot is a good first exercise.


We can also start with the massage with a tennis ball or massage the feet with the hands. Rediscovering the sensations in the feet through body touch is a particularly effective exercise. Experiment with the feet in a parallel and duck-like position. You may feel that the parallel feet place the pelvis well and bring the thighs into a slight internal rotation.


Soft hips and strong legs support our pelvis well. Then the shoulders open and relax if the neck is pulled back slightly without straining the throat. This neck position, in turn will allow the breastbone to stay high to keep the rib cage open and the belly stretched to lighten the small pelvis. Just like the instrument that needs to be tuned, your posture will act on your physical and also psychic harmony.


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Correct posture with the different deformations.


You can start to observe your posture in everyday gestures. Feeling is always a first step in the process of exploring our body's balance. Yoga offers us, then, many exercises and breathing techniques that allow you to connect to one of the parts of our body to be fully whole at the physical level and at more subtle levels.


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Sun Salutation. The practice and the benefits. https://youtu.be/cBh5n5mfhsc


Curves and balance


When each joint and all bone structures are in their place, all of our muscles can perform their function, they don't need to compensate, to contract to keep us in balance. Good vertical balance gives us lightness, we feel as though we are carried, stretched towards the sky, gravity becomes an ally for our momentum. In this sense, to build this unconstrained verticality is to be continually in the present moment. Something to meditate about while waiting for the next article.


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Author: Larissa ROY - Yoga & Sound Bath teacher in Paris, passionate about the magic of sounds, creator of the site www.soundyoga.fr


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Bibliography & readings


1. Bernadette Gastineau, Yoga et périnée, ed. Quintessence, 2012.


2. Dr Jaap van der Wal, L’Homme embryon entre Ciel et Terre, ed. Sully, 2015.


3. André Ratio, Utopies. Du périnée au cerveau, par le souffle et la main, 2018.


4. Jeno Barcsay, Anatomie artistique, ed. Berger-Levrault, 1955.


5. Dominique Martin, Comment entretenir et protéger son « patrimoine » physique. Guide de la Pratique Posturale Ostéo-Articulaire et Musculaire, ed. SolAir, 2016



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