Thich Nhat Hanh says, "Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor." I believe emotions are energy in motion, and emotions are meant to move through us, not linger, stagnate or obstruct. There are some theories that suggest illness and disease occur from unreleased emotions that are held hostage in our bodies. Deb Shapiro wrote a book called, 'Your Body Speaks Your Mind', and it is filled with interesting ideas of where specific emotional imbalances cause symptoms in our bodies. These symptoms are the language of the body, a way that our body attempts to communicate with our mind. Our bodies are amazing. When we are truly sad, we cry. This is a great release, and eventually the body will allow a deep breath to occur with a long slow exhale. This brings the body/mind back into balance and helps restore homeostasis. When we are sad, grieving, or angry the emotion can get locked into our tissues, muscle and bones if it is too painful to confront. There is no good or bad assimilation here, it is just a way of coping. Awareness and being ready to address these imbalances takes time, patience and courage.
Our personal energy is our life force, or our ability to do work. The subtle 'life force energy' is the primary energy that sustains us, it is our source, inner guidance, and the innate intelligence of the body. This energy of life is an animating force that flows through and around every living creature. In other cultures there is a word for this life force energy that moves through us. It is known as 'qi' in China, 'ki' in Japan, 'gi' in Korea, 'khi' in Vietnam, 'sekham' in Egypt, 'pneuma' in Greece, and 'prana' in India. Supporting this vital energy is a process of caring and supporting the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of our body.
Life force energy is meant to flow freely within our system. Emotions can influence the flow of our life force, just like physical issues of pain, injury or trauma. When there is disturbance in the body (heavy emotions, physical discomfort), our life force energy becomes sluggish, or deficient.
Finding space to feel into difficult emotions, but not become them is a process I continue to focus on.
I am a work in progress, I am human, I make mistakes, and I feel all of it. It takes me on a bumpy ride some days, and it's easier to ignore, push away, turn inward, and not face the feelings that need to be processed. Timing is important too, as we all have responsibilities of work, school or caregiving, but in my exprience these feelings don't go away until the effort is made to release them. Happiness, excitement and passion are emotions I would like to have stay with me all the time, but the reality is I wouldn't have persepctive without sadness, anger, or frustration. Moving is the key, so all the heavier emotions that weigh you down don't find residence in your body.
Letting go is an overused phrase and a bit cliche, but necessary to do. We are all unique and carry our emotions, responses and reactions to life differently. A practice of moving, breathing and meditating has been helpful for me to accomplish this release of emotions that can cause 'dis-ease' in the body. I share ideas, images and thoughts as a way to write and work through what is on my mind, or when I'm feeling stuck in my body, but also I share to help others and hope that a small part of living my yoga has a deeper impact on the world around me.
Exploring 'Sirsasana' or Headstand is a wonderful way to quickly change your perception, mindset, and move energy in the body. I am inspired by watching my kids move their bodies in interesting ways that help them to release stagnant energy, or relax to refuel their deficient energy. Since I am a serious person most of the time, adding in quailities of lighhearted playfulness keeps me in check.
Going upside down immediately shifts the internal physical workings of our body. Gravity helps to return venous blood to the heart. Mentally, this pose increases concentration, enhances the sensory faculties, and increases circulation to the upper body. Headstand balances the endocrine system by stimulating the pituitary gland (the master gland), assisting to secrete hormones within the other glands that lie along the length of the spine to the brain. This pose strengthens the shoulders and arms, improves digestion, and promotes lymphatic drainage. Headstand is an inversion, which stimulates the vestibular system of the body. Arising in the inner ear, this system is responsible for processing and sensing change in the position, direction or movement of the head.
|Image taken from the 1830 manuscript, Joga Pradipika.|