(Excerpted from Your Body Mandala, Chap. 7, “Dynamic Structure”)
Early in Part One, I invited you to notice which leg you lift first when you put on your pants. This mundane habitual movement reflects a subtle body-wide imbalance of fascial tension, probably developed over decades. It affects your tensional integrity such a degree that even when you think you have your weight evenly balanced on both legs, you probably don’t. The moment just before you move, you will stabilize yourself with a slight lean into what I call your “preferred leg”.
Contrapposto or“counterpose” is an Italian term used in sculpture to describe a human figure standing with most of his or her weight on one leg and with the upper body twisting contra-laterally to the pelvis and legs. Michelangelo’s famous David is a Renaissance interpretation of a common ancient Greek theme of the heroic male. Contrapposto is considered by art authorities to be a visually harmonious portrayal of a calm mental state. It also represents beauty.
However, we can imagine this biblical hero raising his left leg first when he puts on his boots. The entire right side of his body is compressed, and this compression would have been reflected in his gait. Once his warrior days were over he may have developed a bit of arthritis in his right knee. This is silly, of course, but the serious point is that media (statues were the media of the ancients) distort our perception of what is beautiful, healthy and strong. You’ll see contrapposto throughout the pages of Vanity Fair or People Magazine. If you look closely, you’ll also see that most people’s gait is slightly assymetrical.
If you haven’t identified your “preferred leg,” do so now. Which of your feet lifts first to pass through the leg of your jeans? The other leg is your preferred one--you rely on it for stability and balance.