September 9, 2012

Releasing Blockages

This week I began my second year of the Advanced Studies Program at the Berkeley Yoga Room with my cohort of fellow yogis. Our first course this year is Foundations of Asana and within the first hour my understanding of yoga completely changed. We discussed how the foundation of a pose, meaning the parts of your body that are "grounded", is essential to building the asana.

For practice we each demonstrated a pose and then were instructed in how to see where the energy was blocked. I always wondered how yoga instructors knew how to make adjustments that seemed simple but made such a big impact. Our instructor, Mary Lou Weprin, helped us train our eyes on how the foundations of poses and the simplest adjustments could unblock the energy flow and energize the asana, from within.

All week I've been considering the concept of blocked and unblocking energy flow both physically and psychologically. It actually began earlier in the week when I was preparing for a hike with my friend Una who is a physical therapist. I told her how I had pulled a muscle in my neck when I fell hiking a few days earlier. She laid me down on her couch, comforted my head in pillows and then began to explore my neck. Very gently and delicately she found the strained areas and simply put light pressure on each one for 90 seconds. My muscles and ligaments, feeling safe, were able to release and relax. Energy began to flow.

Throughout the week I practiced releasing the tension in my neck by gently placing pressure, using my fingers, on the painful areas in my neck. Una said that my neck was extremely tight. I'm sure this plays into the migraines I frequently experience. Noticing how a gentle, comforting touch allowed my body to relax, I felt kinder towards myself.

This made me wonder if the same concept of gentle touch of comfort could be applied to upsetting thoughts that swirl around my head. As an experiment I breathed into each thought that came up and allowed it to disintegrate. It felt like a similar energy block release. All of these internal physical and psychological adjustments are simple and gentle, yet I can feel the spaciousness in releasing the blockages.