Remember your childhood, when your mother used to tell you to sit up straight?  I was a tall, thin-boned teenager, and slouching has been a problem all of my life.  That is why I have been reaching out to people about their posture in my Yoga teaching, explaining the value of good posture.  However, I find that watching my own posture, and "walking the talk" is the best teaching tool so far.

Since one's posture is a broadcast of one's emotional state, and since emotions are very contagious, it is important to cultivate an awareness of one's posture and its effects on the emotional body.  Don't you feel sad when someone tells you, with a deep sigh, about a death in their family, their eyes swelling with tears, their chest sunken?  How do you feel when someone tells you that they have found a new job they love?  That person's bright eyes, smile, and open chest are bound to improve your own spirit simply by proximity.  You get swept up in their new found sense of purpose in the world.

As a mother of two daughters myself, I am painfully aware that by watching me, they are subconsciously absorbing my emotions, taking them on and eventually making them theirs.  To me, that is one way to look at Karma - the way we pass our baggage to our children, for them to deal with because we are unable to deal with it ourselves.  I certainly feel my parents' baggage on my shoulders, and as I become more and more conscious thanks to my regular Yoga practice, I want to make sure that this buck stops here and my children to not inherit the sadness, the low self-esteem, and the petty ego struggles that run in my family.  When my mother told me to sit up straight, she herself had the worst posture, and her words were useless.  Yes, she wanted better for me, but since she never took better care of herself, her emotional body left a very visible imprint on me. 

In this respect, the saying that if you want to see a change in the world you have to be that change really makes sense.  By working on ourselves we have a real chance here to change the world by spreading with our own example the good vibe of a well-aligned spine and a more balanced human being.  The awareness that I have been cultivating in my life has really helped me to stay tuned to my own mental and emotional state, as well as the posture that I am carrying.  I notice that when I am with someone sad (or thinking about something sad), for example, my breathing becomes shallow, my shoulders collapse, my back heart loses its tone.  Slouching.  As soon as I notice it and begin to correct my posture, my mood lifts, the thoughts become brighter.  If I am with someone, they, too, unconsciously begin to straighten up, their face softens.  My own inner correction makes an immediate effect on those around me.  I feel a responsibility to my friends, loved ones and Yoga students to be a positive presence.

This is also why a good demonstration in a Yoga class can go a long way.  Yes, as your practice matures you will need to look at the teacher less and less.  After fifteen years on the Yoga mat, I usually do the whole practice without glancing at the teacher once.  My eyes are mostly closed, and if they are open, the gaze is diffused and unspecific to anything outside.  I am always looking inward.  I have pretty much stopped going to group classes anyway and find my personal practice at home more illuminating.  In the beginning, however, the new Yoga student needs to look.  And if the teacher is providing a good demonstration, it has a very specific energetic effect - the teachers' inner concentration, state of peace and ease transfer to the student.  And even if most poses are still in their grossest approximation, energetically the student can experience subtle, profound things - provided the teacher does, too.

As a Yoga teacher, I need to make sure that when I get in front of my students I am in a good place.  My own Yoga practice is a way for me to teach a better Yoga class - I can face my own demons, release my own tension, deal with my own emotions, and then emerge a more balanced teacher as a result.

This is why certain people are generally a joy to be around - their posture, their bright spirit rubs off and we walk away energized.  They have many friends, even if they tend to be the quiet one.  They make you feel good.  Our own balanced state of mind creates opportunities for good things to come our way, because we are, indeed, connected to many people by this positive vibe.  We are lucky.  We are in the right place at the right time.  Troubles seem to not bother us much.

However, if we find ourselves in the company of someone who whines, always finds fault with everything and everyone, places blame for their misery on others, we just don't want to be in the presence of that person much.  We walk away drained, depressed.  If we are unconscious, that is.  If we are aware of this, we have a chance here to be the positive vibe, without so much as saying a word. 

Just check in with your posture, make sure you are holding firm against this negativity, and watch what happens.  The other person will begin to correct themselves in small, unconscious ways.  We seldom spend enough time with people like that to notice a big change, and since they have such a depressing effect on others they are more likely to be reinforced by unconscious mimicking of others.  They attract misfortune and other sad souls.  They are disconnected and lonely.  However, if it is someone close to you and you spend a lot of time together, you can help them by simply being conscious of yourself and holding ground where you can - inside yourself.