Postures Used for subs & slaves
For those interested in power exchange relationships, it’s not uncommon to hear about the use of various postures as part of the training of a submissive or slave. In this writing we will examine the different kinds of postures or poses used in typical training scenarios and why we use them. As is usually the case in my posts, this is not meant to be fully comprehensive or definitive, but to provide some clarity and food for thought to aid your own exploration.
A posture is, essentially, the act or state of holding the body in a position in space. This includes holding the body in a certain way, such as in sitting or standing, and the positional relationship of limbs, carriage, and frame. We should also note that postures are not static “perfect” things that remain forever, but that they are subject to the living dynamic forces that require balance and may change over time due to age, injury, and physical limitations.
Everyday postures include those used in prayer or meditation, military postures such as holding a salute or standing at attention, elements of forms or katas in the martial arts, etc. Each of these are meant to guide mind through the use of body awareness, alignment, and relationship to itself and others. Some are used to deliver a message or project an image to the viewer, such as the executive sitting behind a large desk, or the shape of the body a good photographer will carefully direct to capture an element of personality.
In BDSM, and most often in power exchange relationships, the use of postures is trained to help develop the habits and conditioning to further the relationship between the Dominant and the submissive or slave. Not unlike how one might use various positional commands when training a puppy, the use of postures reinforces the dynamic through non-verbal positional relationships.
By reinforcing body & mind connections and associations, we can physically express our power exchange dynamics, add impact in communication through body language, and use posture training as a way of spending quality time with our partners. Of course there’s also the obvious benefit – some postures are just damn sexy.
The use of postures is a combination of how those involved relate to non-verbal communication and cues. While many are common and work on a subconscious level across cultures, many are highly subjective due to personal experience, familial and regional cultures, religious association, and other factors. The first rule of thumb to remember is that your use of poses and postures will need to be individualized based on how people experience and relate to the postures.
Bear in mind too that everyone’s body is different and we need to work within our capabilities. An example might be if you’ve had knee reconstruction, replacement, or are struggling with arthritis – in which case Kneeling may not be something that is entirely feasible. The second rule of thumb is that we need to be realistic and adapt according to our bodily limitations, which may change over time.
Lastly, we need to be thoughtful in how you combine Intent with postures, gestures, & commands. Training is always stronger when combined with multiple elements that involve different senses (thus recruiting other areas of the brain). A posture that has an associated Verbal command leverages the auditory cortex & linguistics (temporal lobe); Gestures leverage the visual cortex (occipital lobe); while getting into the posture recruits the motor & somatosensory cortex (PMA, SMA, frontal and parietal lobes). The third rule of thumb is to plan and be aware of the potential impacts of postures and related commands, especially to minimize contradiction, confusion, or distress (unless intended).
Here are some very basic postures which are used in many power exchange relationships and in submission training. Again, these are not definitive, but are a place to consider how you might use them (or want to use them).
- Standing slightly behind to the diagonal (behind right or left shoulder)
- Walking two steps behind to the diagonal (behind right or left shoulder, just within arm’s reach)
- Sitting only after given permission, and then positioned as directed
- Kneeling assumed when owner is sitting, to one side and at their feet
One can then modify the basics described above to posture commands for specific purposes, such as Attending to receive instruction/training; Cuffing or collaring postures to make it easier to fasten; Begging for forgiveness, discipline, or sexual use; etc.
A template for your postures should contain consistent key elements such as the Postural Name; Purpose/Use, Verbal command, Gestural command, and a brief description of the posture itself. An example of a template might look like this:
Position Name: Attend
Use/Intent: at Owners direction to stand & approach Owner, ready for further direction
Gesture: Open hand moved up and towards the Owner
Description: Stand with legs hip width apart; head upright; eyes down ; arms at side or behind back
Position Name: Kneel
Use/Intent: at Owners direction, listening attentively and waiting for instruction; default position for receiving a collar
Gesture: index & middle fingers extended & together, pointing downwards (back of hand is up)
Description: on knees; feet together; sitting on heels; legs closed; back straight; hands face down on thighs; head up and attentive; eyes lowered
Position Name: Obeisance
Use/Intent: Directed by Owner to allow owned to greet owner, show regret, beg forgiveness, etc
Gesture: splayed fingers, palm moves down
Description: deep bow – legs folded beneath belly; knees spread; feet together; head down; eyes down; hands on floor outstretched forward past head; (i.e. an extended child’s pose in yoga)
Use of postures take a little thought and planning, but it’s not hard to start using them. First go to things that resonates or are already a subconscious act. Example, some submissives automatically kneel and curl up next to their owner’s feet, especially if they have pet-like tendencies. If you are inventing your postures, assume the positions yourself if possible to feel the transitions and ability to hold the body in that position. Also make sure that the positions, commands & gestures are clear and concise.
I always recommend you spend time reviewing & using them, to make it a part of “regular” life as a way of expressing and demonstrating your role in the dynamic and to actively engage with your partner. For more details you can catch me at events teaching this workshop in detail, or contact us to present for your group.
Copyright 2018 Limits Unleashed