Body Wise: Patriarchy, Power & Posture

By Paape, Val | Herizons, July 31, 1992 | Go to article overview

Body Wise: Patriarchy, Power & Posture


Paape, Val, Herizons


BODY WISE: Patriarchy, Power & Posture.

Feminism is not a dogma, a creed or a faith. It is, preeminently, a tool for investigation, grounded in the belief in women's right to full realization of our potential. Buddhism presumes that most of us are blinded by a veil of ignorance of our true nature. Feminism presumes that we exist within a boary power structure of lies and misconceptions about the nature of human beings. And the goal of both is liberation from limiting ideas and conditions. Sandy Boucher in "Turning the Wheel: American Women Creating the New Buddhism."

Over the years, the primary focus of my yoga practice has changed form an alternate form of fitness to the primary means of developing my spirituality. As this shift occurred, I realized how empowering a physical practice in the martial arts or yoga can be for women. The demanding physical exercises forming he core of these ancient traditions enable us to experience ourselves very differently in our bodies than how we have been socialized to feel. We have been enculturated to feel ungrounded and disempowered and, literally, through our flesh, these disciplines restore our power and our ability to be grounded in ourselves and connected to the earth. EXERCISE YOUR POSTURE

Patriarchal societies ensure the dependence of woman by undermining her ability to ground herself. Chinese foot binding, high heels and other clothing conventions restricting movement and breathing, destabilize women and make them more vulnerable and afraid. Less obvious, but just as effective in their ability to unground us, are the postural habits of sexism. To experience for yourself the emotional and attitudinal effects of posture, stand in a manner you consider to be very feminine. You will likely experience a lack of stability because most of your weight will be on one leg. You may feel the posture is also passive and seductive. Now stand in a way you consider masculine. You may experience this posture as more stable and it may fell more aggressive. This simple exercise demonstrates how we are psychologically affected by our physically.

When we are grounded, we have a stable connection through our bodies to the earth which enables us to move and act. In my experience, being grounded is key to taking risks and making important life changes. Through increasingly difficult postures and maneuvers, yoga and martial arts teach us to ground with greater effectiveness. The gradual increase in difficulty is essential so that we challenge our view of our capabilities and transcend our limitations. Just as the task to remove the "veil of ignorance" of our true nature is a spiritual task, so becoming grounded is a spiritual process.

Women are inherently powerful. This fact has been hidden behind beliefs that women are physically weak, emotional, and intellectually deficient compared to men. …

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