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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia
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Postures and Movements—East and West

This article was written by Carl Llewellyn Weschcke on November 30, -0001
posted under Asana

“Postures” generally refer to Eastern yogic postures along with controlled breathing, and our familiar Western postures of standing and sitting. In addition, postures involve intentional movement—even if just sitting with grace and awareness of energy flow. There are, of course, other postures: those of the martial arts in China and Japan, belly and dervish dances in the Middle East, Hula from Hawaii, and much more. Any movement and posture that involves energy probably have an associated shamanic or sacred tradition.

The Western Esoteric Tradition has adopted the Egyptian God postures as seen in paintings on tomb and temple walls. Whether standing, moving, or seated, these show positions of dignity and energy restraint. You can sense power that would be released in a simple gesture.

Every posture, movement, and gesture involves muscles and nerves, electrical currents and chemicals, energy flows and hormones along with emotional and spiritual responses, and changes in the aura.

Every movement of the physical body triggers a complex of responses, but some are very specific in what they do. The important point is to understand that there is a psychic and magickal side of all these positions, postures, movements, signs and gestures.

When you assume any of the magical positions and make the movements, you should learn to be sensitive to the energy flow, and with that learn to adjust your stance and movements until the energy flow feels just right. It will help to allow yourself to “imagine” seeing those energies from outside your body, seeing them just as if viewing a schematic diagram of channels and centers.

The best analogy I can offer is to consider actual Martial Arts postures and movements. You know that these movements—no matter the particular style—generate and deliver amazing power. And when you study any of the martial arts you will often find illustrations showing the many subtle body energy channels, meridians and psychic centers involved.

Now, think of your own body. A simple smile causes your body and emotions respond to that simple ‘posture.’ “When you smile, the whole world smiles with you” is more than a pretty phrase because that gesture is infectious and brings smiles to other people as well. But, what happened to you when you smiled? You felt better! The small act triggered not only an emotional response but through the nerves and muscles involved switched on many electrical and chemical transfers in your body. And then projected energy into your aura and broadcast it to these other people who “smiled with you.”


In Irish tradition, there is a wonderful story of bile, the ancient tree. It grows by the side of a sacred well, and acorns, nuts, and apples spring from its branches. How wonderful it would be to live in the world of folk-tradition: a magical place where the world is joined-up, the sacred is apparent in the everyday world, and every living thing... read this article
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