Closed Posture vs. Open Posture
Closed posture is our default posture for rest, safety, nurture, and reduction of feelings and sensation. The C-curve shape of the torso and spine is an effective posture for psycho-emotional quieting and for enhancing feelings of protection. A closed posture is an internalizing movement towards a C-Curve of the spine, like a fetal position, which is our most primal, default posture. The more the back of the body is disengaged, then the posture is optimized for rest and relaxation. Closed posture reflects the expression of contractive emotion.
Open posture is a dynamic form expressed during waking hours for optimal functioning in walking, running, jumping, and lifting. An open posture is activated when the back of the body is engaged. The open position of the Bowspring is a fullness in the ribcage on all sides. It is an outwardly expressive posture of positive, expanding emotions.
The front of the body is opened in the Bowspring, which provides psycho-emotional sensitivity balanced with a heightened sense of empowerment. The pelvic floor, lower belly, solar plexus, chest, throat, and face and eyes are in an elongated, open position from bottom of the pelvis to the top of the head in the Bowspring form.
The spectrum of posture goes from full flexion of the front of the body to full extension. In flexion, the front of the body closes and the back of the body opens. In extension, the back of the body engages and the front of body opens. Both ends of the postural spectrum are natural and necessary for living a balanced life. During the active daytime the body's dynamic posture can be open and functional, while during the quiet nighttime the body can be rejuvenate in a static, closed posture.
The simple example of closed vs. open posture is that of a rolly polly insect. When it needs to defend itself or to sleep, it curls into a little ball, the head and tail come in to touch. When it is moving about, the head and tail open apart and the belly lengthens so the legs can move fluidly.
Closed => sadness, anger, fear, contempt, and disgust.
Main Emotional Expressions
categorized as Closed or Open posture
Open => Happiness, love, peace, joy, and amazement.
Open => Bowspring curve = Double-S curve
Sprung-loaded from engagement on the back from periphery to the sacrum.
Front is opened long up the front from pubis to eyes.
Closed => C-Curve
Short on the front, disengaged on the back.
Legs bent in toward the torso, tail tucked under, belly short, lower back flat or rounded, upper back rounded, chest drawn in, arms bent, upper arms roll inward, shoulders draw forward, neck and throat shortens and contracts into the shoulders, head bows.
The C-curve position feels safe and comfortable to the nervous system. Any time that we feel afraid, angry, or sad, we trigger a pre-programmed stress reflex toward a closed posture. Contracting emotions trigger a stress response, which tightens the body-mind toward the C-curve in order to protect itself. This unconscious reflex is also known as the “red light reflex”, the “startle response”, or the “slumping reflex”, which is common in all animals as a protective posture to danger, prolonged distress or negativity. All key somatic areas on the front of the body—pelvic floor, belly, heart, throat, and mouth—are shortened and closed during contracting emotions.
Unresolved anger, bitterness, resentment are emotional energies stuck in the past, while fear and worry are mostly in the future where you have reduced control. If contracting emotions are not released in a healthy way, then they can stay buried in the cellular fabric of the body-mind as vibrating memories for many years. Unresolved emotions become toxic and often manifest in chronic illness.
The physical contraction of the front of the body during a closed posture suppresses painful feelings and thoughts by inhibiting the free flow of body-mind energies in the myofascia. Wilhelm Reich named this emotional contraction in the body, “armoring.” When the connective tissue of the physical body tightens and shortens, emotional waves are withheld throughout the closed posture. The suppression of painful experiences can cause amnesia and distorted memory.
Expanding emotions—Triumph, Joy, Awe, Ecstatic Love—open the posture of the body from an inner radiance of the heart.
In an open posture, the extensor muscles on the back of the body are engaged which pulls up the spine and opens the front of the body.
Arms extend forward and up
Head rises up and back with open freedom in the throat
Chest and heart are wide and open
Belly is long and relaxed
Knees slightly bent, pelvis tipped forward, and pelvic floor open
Lips curve upward, smiling, cheeks raised
When a baby, 3 – 6 months old, lies prone on her tummy, a natural engagement of the extensor muscles on the entire back of the body causes the baby to lift her head, arch her back, and extend her arms and legs out like a skydiver's posture during freefall.
In the Bowspring there is reduced emotional guarding or armoring in the body-mind. In an open posture, vital energy flows without obstruction in waves throughout the entire body, up and down along the central axis from head to tail and back again in harmonic waves.
Using a positive mind-set and the Bowspring dynamic posture, negative emotional energies can be cleared and replaced by harmonious, expanding emotional energies.