Our skeleton is rather like a coat hanger for our muscles, but it is the muscles which hold up the skeleton and allow it to move. We need well-placed, free moving articulations and muscles ready to pump, stretch and contract so that the organism can thrive and renew itself. By moving we feed our organism, liquids flow and our organs regenerate. This is the reason for physical activity.

Our structure depends on movements and it is constantly adjusting its articulations. When our joints are not properly adjusted in their correct place, the effort needed to do certain physical activities can cause the “wearing out” of body tissue and eventually decompensate our mechanism. Without a doubt, exercise is beneficial, but if we don’t take into account the correct positioning of our articulations, exercise may become counterproductive. Articulations are fundamental to the human structure; this is because their capacity of movement and fluidity determine our functional capacity, as well as our vertical position when static.

The ideal position for the human body is expressed in perfect symmetry and verticality. However, our structure is constantly submitted to mechanical efforts in order to adapt itself to different situations and counteract the force of gravity. In spite of the many obstacles which hinder correct development before full growth, our body structure always finds balance of some sort, although this is often forced. This is why muscles accumulate tension and weariness. Therefore, the closer we are to the ideal position of verticality, the less effort we will need to make in order to keep on our feet and move around.

Let me explain something else about verticality, or if you prefer, the balance of our body structure. The concept of verticality is usually associated with a stiff posture, similar to that of a soldier standing to attention; but really it has nothing to do with that. Verticality is the imaginary line that goes through certain points of our anatomy and which provides bipeds with a serene and harmonious balance. However, in order to exercise our verticality, we must take into account the gravitational attraction which we are subjected to, but we must not allow it to become an obstacle to us. What we should do is to take advantage of its force to lift us up while at the same time it roots us to the ground. If we can feel the vital force coming up through the soles of our feet and rising up through our legs, rather like the roots of a tree, then we will consolidate the axis of verticality.

Karlfried Dürckheim, a psychologist, philosopher and expert on Buddhist thinking (who has greatly influenced my work) dedicated a great deal of his life to showing us how to “grow roots” to the Earth. Aristotle on the other hand gives a description of the process of walking, locating the point of balance in the centre of the pelvis; he is now claimed to be the father of Kinesiology. Genuine oriental cultures are certain that the consolidation of each individual is based on his/her posture, on how one stands. The concept of “growing roots” into the ground does not, however, mean being “nailed to the floor”, in the same way that rising does not mean losing contact with the floor. Both these situations take us further away from ideal verticality. They are, in fact, mere caricatures of verticality; one is the image of the body having collapsed, shapeless and lifeless, the other of a rigid backbone with tension and brittleness.