Yoga at the Ballot Box, Part 2: It’s Bob Brown!

The people of Australia have spoken. By comment and email you begged me to run a yoga analysis on Greens leader Bob Brown. And to prove that a vote for Green is not a wasted vote, here he is.

I’ve found it a fascinating and challenging process this week, to examine public figures without reference to my ambient knowledge about them – to simply home in on the raw facts of how their bodies work.

With Bob Brown, it’s even harder: he’s been part of Australian life for long enough to truly earn the title of “icon”.

Depending where on the political spectrum you sit, you either see Bob Brown as an irrelevant nagger who pops up on TV whenever a tree gets cut down, a national treasure determined to offer a high-moral-fibre alternative to the main parties, or an infuriating meddler whose sole purpose is to obstruct the path of progress.

But let’s not get into preferences here. Let’s instead take an unbiased look at Bob’s body politic. Is he as straight up and down as we think? Does he lean to the left or right? What’s the condition of the Green Senator’s backbone – physical, rather than moral?

Like many people in politics, Bob exhibits the rounded upper spine of an inefficient breather. That forward posture, which he shares with Tony Abbott, acts to constrict his lungs from top to bottom. It means that no part of his lungs is working to capacity, and as a result Bob is denying himself crucial prana – the lifeforce of air that powers his body.

If you want to know how it feels to breathe like a politician, have a look at yourself side-on in a mirror and try to copy the Abbott-Brown Stoop; note how different your chest and lungs feel in this posture, compared to standing with a straight back.

In practical terms, Bob’s breathing is putting extra pressure on his heart and liver, and probably also raising his blood pressure. With less air being taken in, I’d guess that he’s running his campaign – indeed, his life – on heavy doses of adrenalin. This is not so different from Abbott’s approach. But at Bob’s age, he’s got to make some fairly serious modifications in order to avoid wearing himself out.

The other immediately striking feature of Bob’s posture is the rigidity in his upper body. This is another flow-on effect of his breathing; it’s also, in the world of metaphor, a common feature of people who tend to be one-eyed and unbending in their beliefs. (See what I mean about ambient knowledge?)

My strong sense about Bob is that he’s become a public figure by accident rather than design. He doesn’t seem to me a man who actively seeks the limelight – more your grim and determined campaigner. Where Tony’s elbows-out, feet-out duck strut tells us that he rather revels in being the centre of attention, and Julia’s neck-out posture has a lot of go-get about it, Bob’s slouch has more of an internalised, protective quality. He reminds me of a man carrying a rare and precious seedling under his coat, trying to protect it from hailstones.

My program for Bob
Bob would really benefit from an all-round program to work on his flexibility and ability to relax, but if he intends to continue in politics he’s got to work on that posture and breathing. Key poses I’d give him to practice include Sphinx pose, an excellent, non-strenuous way to begin opening up the chest and heart; and Brahmari Mudra, to relax through the neck and shoulders, centre himself, and help him slow down.

Sphinx pose
Brahmari Mudra

1 Comment

  1. Cheeky Monkey

    August 22, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Nice one! Do you think the tree might also be useful for Bob?

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