Intelligence Begins in the Body

The mind follows

Photo by Biel Morro on Unsplash

It’s one thing to understand something with the mind, quite another to know it with the body. Currently enrolled in EmbodiYoga Advanced Teacher Training, I decided to write about embodiment weekly, at a minimum, to document the process and hopefully make others curious about it. If you haven’t already, read last week’s post here. It details concepts that will be useful for today’s post. And be sure to view all posts in the series here to get a bigger picture of this amazing practice.

I’m having so much fun writing about these concepts because it’s helping me understand them cognitively at a deeper level. I recognize that just reading about them here only gives you, the reader, information for your brain too.

Embodiment takes place in the body which is the goal of this information. If you read the entire series (a few times) and practice the concepts, you’ll be on your way. Each day I’ve committed to twenty minutes of embodiment practice which I’m calling Everyday Embodiment. I’ll be sharing those short practices with you here in the coming weeks.

A Review

In this post and this one we discussed ways we meet the earth. It’s kind of important — no, really important. Read them if you’d like to understand. Here I will introduce a few more concepts useful for this discussion.

In yoga, there are three patterns that affect our experience known as the three gunas. They are primary qualities or activities of all matter — tamas, rajas and sattva. These three gunas correlate directly to our states of meeting the earth.

Tamas (collapsing or sinking downward) — when we drop into the earth without using gravity to our advantage, we sink and are mindless of our relationship with Mother Earth.

Rajas (propping or rising upward) — from a pattern of collapse we may take matters into our own hands and use our own strength to hold ourselves up

Sattva (yielding or resting evenly, balanced) — this active yielding creates a rebounding force away from the earth. It moves upward into space and is an effortless act on our part. We are in relationship with Mother Earth.

Alignment in yoga is context-based.

It’s not so much about the shape our physical form takes alone, but the relationships between all of the parts of ourselves, and the relationship we establish with the earth.

Yoga isn’t about flexibility, though flexibility is an end-result. Yoga is about sensitivity and modulation. It’s about …

Reclaiming relationships between

  1. Our bodies and the earth
  2. Our body parts
  3. Isolated actions of and between body parts
  4. Support — center to periphery and periphery to center

These four relationships help us redefine strength and flexibility in new and interesting ways. The principles of organizing alignment = relationships.

Movement is intelligence. It organizes our thinking and organizes our possibilities.

Intelligence begins in the body and moves to the mind.

Read that again. I’m certain it’s a new concept to most of you. It was to me. And it’s changing my entire being.

Next week we’ll jump into simple Everyday Embodiment practices. Until then, cheers to an embodied, joyful life!

Thanks for reading. Did you enjoy? Please tap the clappy hands 💚 (as many times as you’d like) to recommend it to others. Namaste …


Hi! I’m Heather, a writer and yoga educator from SE Ohio. I share daily-ish here as part of my spiritual practice, and am working on my first book, Yoga Prayers. Download the first 25 pages, A Prelude to Yoga Prayers, for a brief introduction into yoga history and philosophy — and let me know what you think!