As a yoga teacher, I often say, "Your body is your emotional signature."
It actually started from my wise eccentric grandmother who told me a long time ago, "Look at a man's feet. If they are soft and namby-pamby, he is not to be relied on. He'd be off at the first sight of trouble."
No truer words have ever been spoken, Granny.
It is so fundamental to yoga philosophy, too: you have to be firmly grounded to begin the practice. Life has not even begun if your standing leg is shaking. Do not proceed until you establish a strong base. Focus on your feet, spread your toes, engage your core, grow tall.
But here's the piece: I notice students slouching in class, not because they are lazy, but because they have no core strength. Core strength is something that has to be cultivated because your journey cultivating it gives you the internal strength, fortitude and resilience that you need it life. You need to stick to a tough practice to get a strong core. In my forthcoming parenting book, I wrote that children need strong roots, not just tall branches because I have seen too many high flyers with no backbone and no moral fibre. Whatever their paper successes are, I would be ashamed to call them my children.
A recent University College London study involving 1,500 subjects found that small changes to a woman's stance can have a big effect on how she is perceived, even when what she wears and says stay the same. People tend to take those who stand with feet wide apart and who used their hands to illustrate points were more widely believed, though they were saying the same thing and dressed in the same way as subjects in the control group.
The research, led by Professor Amy Cody, showed that showed that standing in a powerful pose for just two minutes can re-set the body's chemistry.
In the quest to produce wonder kids, many parents are missing this: growing inner strength in a child. Academic success and external achievements should be matched by a strong body, mind, heart, spirit and character, which is expressed in a person's body language. Yes, your body language is your business card in both your professional and private lives.
Here's a two minute a day yoga practice for adults and children: close your eyes. Stand with your feet apart, put your hands on your hips and mentally push your hips down, rooting the lower half of your body. Breathe deeply. Feel the life in your breath. Lengthen your spine, open up your chest, lift your heart upwards. Breathe. Grow strong in this pose.
My sixteen year old daughter and her teammate unconsciously standing in this 'winner' pose - team sports are good for children!
First published in www.raisinghappystrongkids.com