Vertical Development: How Grown-ups Grow Up
The Developmental
Embodiment and Vertical Development

Embodiment and Vertical Development

How to stop treating your body as a mere vehicle for your brilliant brain and claim it back as the biggest gift you have for your ability to thrive in complexity and your life-long growth.


In the final episode of 'The Developmental' podcast for 2023, I explore a topic that has so far received very little attention - the role of the body in adult development. My guests, Natalie Goni and Hayley Linthwaite, are both pioneer practitioners at the intersection of vertical development and somatic practices and they bring a wealth of wisdom on the value of embodiment as a vehicle for personal growth.

We explore what embodiment is (and what its opposite - disembodiment - feels like), the importance of understanding and befriending our body, the impact of ignoring physical discomfort, and the link between embodiment and leadership. We discuss the delicate topic of introducing somatic practices into leadership development programs and the untapped value for leaders and businesses.

Natalie and Hayley both offer us the gift of two very different practices - so I’m encouraging you to listen to this episode in a private space where you might be able to get up, move or sit down, relax and close your eyes.

Show summary

01:01 Understanding Embodiment and Vertical Development

01:47 Introducing the Guests: Natalie Goni and Haley Linthwaite

05:52 Exploring the Journey to Embodiment

11:26 Understanding Disembodiment

16:41 Exploring the Concept of Embodiment

19:36 The Role of Embodiment in Vertical Development

33:10 Overcoming Resistance to Embodiment in Organizations

39:41 Rediscovering Joy Through Movement

40:15 The Challenge of Breaking Free from Conditioning

40:43 Exploring Dance and Movement in Different Contexts

41:47 The Healing Power of Movement

43:05 The Role of the Body in Leadership and Decision Making

44:25 The Impact of Physical State on Leadership

47:16 The Importance of Self-Regulation and Self-Awareness

50:48 The Connection Between Body and Mind in Decision Making

51:51 The Role of Intention in Leadership

55:43 The Role of Embodiment in Vertical Development

56:40 The Power of Embodiment in Leadership

59:42 Practical Exercises for Embodiment - Hayley and Natalie’s guided experiments

01:17:03 The Importance of Presence and Aliveness

01:20:22 Closing Thoughts and Future Plans

Useful Resources

Hayley’s website:

Natalie’s website:

Peter Levine (trauma therapy through somatic experiencing):

Bessel van der Kolk (neuroscience and trauma):

360 Emergence (transformation through movement):

Lindsay Braman (visual art, mental health, emotional regulation):

Guests’ Bios:

Hayley Linthwaite

For over 30 years, Hayley has made it her life’s work to ignite the sparks of transformative change all over the world. An experienced facilitator, coach, consultant, social entrepreneur and educator, she has empowered countless leaders and teams, facilitated multimillion-dollar organisational change programs, founded social enterprises, and cultivated a community of changemakers. 

She bridges the latest explorations in systems change, adult development and neuroscience with the transformative power of the arts and embodiment to unlock profound shifts in individuals and systems. All of her work is propelled by her unwavering belief in our human capacity to ignite change and create abundant futures.

She holds a PhD in Transformational Change (Applied Performance), a Master of Creative Industries in Drama Teaching, a Graduate Bachelor of Education, and a Bachelor of Arts in Drama.

Natalie Goni

With over a decade of developing talent and leaders at one of the world’s largest financial institutions and as an Executive Coach and Group Facilitator for the past seven years, Natalie has not only always worked in the field of growth and people development, but she is also an avid and continued explorer of her own development journey through the lenses of adult development, embodiment and our emotions.

Based in Hong Kong, Natalie is grateful to work with leaders and individuals across Asia Pacific and all over the world. Natalie brings an interdisciplinary and very human approach to coaching leaders and teams, drawing upon leadership development, team dynamics and self-exploration practices with systemic and post-conventional meaning-making approaches that increase self-awareness, build emotional maturity, and stretch one’s capacity to think and feel in more complex and adaptive ways. She supports her clients through key leadership transitions to build new skills and new ways of being.

Natalie is also a faculty member of Harthill.

Dive deeper

I hope you’ve enjoyed this podcast. If you are curious to dive more deeply into learning about Vertical Development and how it might impact your work and life, check out our online library of webinars and courses accredited by the International Coaching Federation.

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Vertical Development: How Grown-ups Grow Up
The Developmental
A podcast about the messy, beautiful ways grown-ups grow up. Leaders, learning experts and developmental researchers come together to explore turning science into the day-to-day practice of adult development in teams, homes, organisations, and life.
Dr Alis Anagnostakis is an adult development researcher, group learning facilitator and founder of the Vertical Development Institute. Her highest hope as a researcher-practitioner is to help support the growth of conscious, mature and future-fit leaders and to bring the tools of vertical development into day-to-day to day life.