Ahead of his daylong workshop and month-long intensive programme in January 2020, Tim Goullet shares details about the powerful connection between our minds and bodies. He also explores how movement and exercise – performed with good posture and breathing mechanics – can completely transform a person’s health and wellbeing. Booking details for his workshop and programme are shared below.
Our current posture is a tapestry of all our past movements and postures and is one of our most distinguishing features. So, we are molded over time by our hobbies, jobs, traumas, exercise patterns and the powerful influence of our minds.
If we believe the body can be influenced by the mind, it also follows that the mind can be influenced by the body. The healthy body, healthy mind ethos was famously embraced by the ancients Greeks.
How do we use the body to help the mind?
Firstly, we need to tune the instrument – the mind and brain are part of the body. If the body isn’t functioning well, why would we expect the mind to?
The brain is highly sensitive to oxygen levels. Yawning is a wonderful example of how the body responds to a brain that’s running low on fuel.
Good blood flow to the brain to deliver its fuel requires a healthy neck and upper back. The nerves leaving the upper back help regulate blood flow to the brain by controlling their calibre. A brain functioning at its best physiologically is more likely to function better in other ways, from social to emotional to spiritual.
Secondly, we can use the movement of our body to help focus the mind as in yoga and martial arts. By performing movements that require a mixture of concentration, effort, skill, balance, repetition and practice, our minds can become absorbed in the moment, lost in the oneness of being and doing.
Diligent and consistent practice requires certain mental traits such as determination, inner strength and self-belief, all of which are qualities consistent with a strong spirit, without necessarily being overtly spiritual.
A healthy mind with good oxygen supply has the capacity to also be a mind with healthy thoughts, feelings and aspirations. Poor physical health is often accompanied by poor mental health.
How can movement be transformational?
For any exercise to be fully beneficial, the movements need to be performed with good posture and breathing mechanics. In turn, good breathing and posture require, amongst other things, good, upright spinal and skeletal structure.
Good raw material is important in any process of change. The “raw materials” are:
If efficient breathing mechanics have not been established in the upright stance, in what should be our best posture as humans, they are unlikely to be present during exercise.
If breathing is distending the abdomen rather than expanding the rib cage, the abdomen will become chronically weakened over time and the efficiency of breathing reduced.
Not only should our standing upright posture be our best posture, it should also the position for our best breath. Standing yoga postures allow fuller lung expansion than sitting ones.
However, if our upright posture allows the hips to be too forward, the abdomen distends, the sternum shortens and a full breath is impossible.
Breathing mechanics can also be sabotaged by the body’s actual structure. Stiffness in the upper back, for example, will enforce either excessive abdominal breathing or “neck” breathing.
Our structure either permits varying degrees of movement or restricts them. When spinal stiffness affects not only our posture but our breathing, something has to be done. Loosening the thoracic spine with osteopathic treatment is the fastest, most efficient way to address this to enable better posture and breathing mechanics.
Spinal alignment is also a fundamental foundation to enable exercise to be transforming. Without it, exercise journeys are likely to be thwart with obstacles and injuries. Even our locomotor patterns of walking and running cannot be efficient if we are “off” to one side and will end in joint injuries in the dominant weight-bearing leg.
*Tip* If your shoulders are not level in the mirror, your alignment is off in promotion to the difference in shoulder heights.
I see this as a hierarchy starting with the most fundamental ingredient –
Structure > Posture > Breathing
Once these three elements are well established and understood, movement and exercise have the potential to be transformative for both body and mind.
Tim Goullet has taught at the British School of Osteopathic Medicine for 20 years and offers osteopathic treatment at triyoga Chelsea. Tim holds a B.Sc. in Sports Science and worked as a physical trainer before becoming an osteopath. He also has a 6th Dan in Karate after 37 years training.
Tim Goullet is also running a one-month intensive programme ‘Your New Year Renaissance’ combining osteopathic analysis and treatment with bespoke exercise and dietary plans based on your metabolic type. The program runs from 2nd January – 27th February 2020 at triyoga Chelsea. Click here for more information about ‘Your New Year Renaissance’.