Develop a Balanced Body
A student asked, “Sensei, does your posture or center line become relaxed or broken when sitting? Is it ok to relax into bad posture?”
Answer from Payet Shihan
The purpose of training is to develop a balanced body with a strong center line. At first, we work consciously toward this goal by maintaining a balanced state with some tension while using muscles to position and align the spine and the body properly. In the same way when we do our kamae in the beginning when learning aikido, we are stiff as we carefully keep our back and our leg straight to maintain a strong posture. However, with repetition and mindful training our body gets conditioned to keep this state of “relaxed tension” (not limp or flimsy but relaxed yet still strong). This “State-of-Being” becomes natural and almost unconscious after a period of training.
At higher levels, when the body has learned the correct natural posture, the body and mind are relaxed as they prefer this natural and effortless state. Spontaneously, the body can maintain balance and posture anytime – in a relaxed sitting position or even in your various sleeping positions.
Trying to consciously keep a strong posture all the time is impossible. We can quickly grow tired and the effort can become counterproductive or even injurious. What can be productive is when we simply observe our body while we are in a broken state (physically, mentally, or emotionally) – there’s much to be learned. Eventually the discovery of the broken state can be associated with a certain type of misunderstanding or misalignment. Learn from the broken state until it does not hook the body/mind into misalignment anymore.