Sage advice: muscles

My knowledge of muscles is taken from many places.  From a section on anatomy and muscles in my yoga teacher training, to info on muscles liberally dispensed by yoga teachers and multiple body work therapists to reading on my own, I’ve been learning about muscles for 30+ years.

The key factor I would emphasize is that most of us are woefully ignorant about our muscles and the central role they play in our health, well-being and ability to get around.  Western medicine largely ignores muscles, so many problems go undetected because they don’t even look for damage when you’ve fallen or been in an accident.

It’s worth learning about your muscles and seeking assistance outside of allopathic medicine in order to maintain muscle health and to restore it to balance after injury.

Emotions and muscles

Since this is everyone’s least favorite aspect, let’s get it out of the way 🙂  At times of trauma and/or drama we tighten our muscles and often the emotions evoked by these events wind up locked in knots in the muscle.

When you start opening the muscles, whether through practicing yoga, getting body work or treatments like acupuncture, those emotions and the memories associated with them are going to surface.

I think it’s one of the biggest reasons body work may plateau; resistance to remembering and/or releasing leads the person unconsciously to tighten.  In yoga people prevent these openings by getting out of a pose as soon as the muscle starts to relax enough to let those memories and feelings rise up.

Getting clear of old issues almost always needs to include some work on muscles in order to open the flow and restore essence.

Strength and Flexibility

America has somehow come to the conclusion that healthy muscles need only to be strong.  It’s a persistent misconception even though multitudes of people who work only on strength have wound up suffering pain from the impact of having muscles that are rigid but incapable of flexing.

Natural movement through the world requires muscles to have both the strength to make certain movements and hold certain parts of the body upright and the flexibility to allow you to balance, and to adjust to the motions life throws at you and, even more important, to allow vital force energy to flow throughout your body.

The nadis, or energy channels, through which prana (chi, qi, vital energy…) moves go through the muscles.  Rigid muscles restrict that flow.  Western thinking and medicine understands very little about energy, but energy and its ability to circulate is crucial mentally, physically and spiritually to good health.

After 32 years of yoga I’m prejudiced, of course, but I think it’s one of the best ways to get your muscles into the perfect balance of strength and flexibility.  A good yoga practice works on balance on many levels and one of the important features of a good practice is performing poses for both strength and stretch.

The Pain Place and the Source of Pain May Not Be the Same

The first serious massage therapist for me used a combo of sports medicine and the trigger point therapy theories of Dr. Janet Travell, particularly as shaped by Bonnie Prudden in Myotherapy.  Because muscles are interconnected, a holding pattern in one area will spread –given enough time, tightness can spread throughout your body — and may create a tight spot that hurts somewhere else.

If you work only where the pain is, you will not get rid of the problem.  Practitioners who know how to follow patterns* can figure out where the source of the problem really is.  When that piece releases, others will be easy to open.

Margaret, that first practitioner, often worked on my neck, couldn’t get anything to budge, moved down to a giant ball of knotted muscles at the top of my achilles tendon, worked there and then went back to my neck, where the muscles would now respond.

In Body Patterning, practitioners learn to see patterns in muscles and will often release several other areas before working on the place where you’ve indicated pain.  They’re releasing pieces that are holding that one and the spot you may think is central will not let go while the other patterns hold.

Another aspect of this is that your brain will numb out much of the pain if you have tight, sore muscles all over (or in many places).  Then it will zero in on one or two specific parts where you will experience the pain.  They’re not necessarily the places of origin for your problem.  Sometimes the pain is just referring from the pattern that’s the real issue.

Find a good practitioner –making sure you check on the training and experience — and trust him or her to work wherever you most need it regardless of whether that turns out to be the place where you feel pain.

When I do Flowing Body work on myself or with students, I generally do triggers of release for at least three areas and work with consciousness not only of before and after, but what has been affected by what.  For instance, during a recent knee problem, I did the triggers for ankles, knees and hips and noticed the ankle release did the most for the sore knee and the hip release was also more effective than the knee releases.

Another I’ve noted frequently, as have many students, is that releasing the ankles will often release something in the neck and/or jaw.  Almost every release will cause people to lower their shoulders even if no work has been done on shoulders.  Pay attention as you practice yoga or other exercises as to which movements bring relief where.

Muscles and Bones

Many muscles are connected to bones which means muscles pulled out of alignment can pull bones out of alignment too.  In the early years of trying to work my way out of fibromyalgia –harking back to Margaret again — the massage therapist prescribed chiropractic appointments to help.

Once the muscles have pulled bones out of whack, it often takes work on the bones as well to get the muscles to release.  If you’re not keen on the invasiveness of traditional chiropractic work, try Network Chiropractic. which doesn’t use the bone crunching technique and instead is gentle touch.

Therapy and Self Care

Over time I learned that body workers can help a lot but if I don’t do anything to help in between appointments, progress is exceedingly slow.  There are a variety of things you can do to help

I’d already been doing yoga when I began getting massages, etc. so that has always been a natural piece for me.  But it was when I lived in the San Francisco Bay area that I became conscious of helping along more.

I’d moved out to Marin but still wanted to go to the same massage therapist and also liked going to Kabuki Hot Springs, a Japanese bath place with wonderful sauna, hot tub, steam, etc.  To save trips over the bridge I started booking the massages on one of the ladies’ days at Kabuki and going in to soak, sauna, etc. first.  The therapist quickly noted my muscles were much easier to work on from the deep heat work right before the appointment.

Then, years later when I started doing a trade for Body Patterning, I only had an appointment every other week and I knew I needed to do something to maintain from one visit to the next.  Yoga had always helped but not enough.  And the commute to Kabuki Hot Springs had become a couple thousand miles 🙂

I’d done Robert Masters’ Psycho-physical Method to tapes for years but found it unwieldy for regular practice.  I began doing some of this work in between appointments and gradually re-worked it into sets of my own which dropped some pieces and joined various disparate parts in his classes into sets that worked well together and then combined it with yoga

Practice in between helped and I began a practice of doing 30-60 minutes of this work shortly before massage appointments, with a long soak in a hot bath right before leaving.  Suddenly I was being told that I had released more since the last appointment.

Normally practitioners get a number of things to open and then a combination of repetitive motions performed in life and the pulling force of patterns still holding in your body take the progress backwards a few steps (say 4 steps forward, 2-3 steps back).  Then at the next appointment the practitioner spends 15-30 of the first minutes of your appointment getting you back to where you were at the end of the last appointment.

So doing your part through practices that maintain progress and making sure you’ve done all you could before an appointment, you can move much faster through the body work to healthy muscles.  Very little time needs to be spent on getting you back to where you were and most of the appointment is about progressing further.

Problems Arise Slowly

It’s amazing how little it can take to start a problem with muscles and then it may take years before you feel the pain.  Yup.  Years.

I know I try the patience of some of my students with my emphasis on form in doing yoga and they don’t really believe me when I tell them doing it wrong can cause injuries.  If they’re not being wheeled out on a gurney at the end of class, to them there was no injury.

But do a pose wrong — or watch TV daily with your head turned or tilted or sit with your hips uneven, etc. — and keep doing it wrong and one or more muscles can be pulled a little out of place and/or strained enough to create a small knot.

At the time and perhaps for some time to come you probably won’t feel any pain at all.  But you’ve started a pattern. And if it goes untreated, the muscle will lock into the slightly-off-position and the first couple of knots will pull more of the muscle into knots.  Once that muscle is far enough out of whack it will start pulling all the muscles around it and causing them to tighten.

You might have started off pulling a muscle in your right hip out of place and a few years later it’s expanded until you’re having pain in your left shoulder and since you haven’t even done yoga for two years, you have no idea that doing it wrong started your problem.

The same is also true of having an injury and failing to get help.  You may stay off an ankle for a few days or go on bed rest for a spell and feel okay enough when you move again. But there’s a very good chance the trauma and the automatic tightening of muscles around it has set a little pattern.  Left untreated the pattern will remain and keep reaching out to affect more muscles.

The best way to protect your muscles from injury is to stay aware in the now.  Learn to do any exercise properly — and if your teacher can’t carefully explain the details of how to do something correctly, FIND A DIFFERENT TEACHER!!!  Also take care about positions you engage in routinely — how you sit, how you hold your head.

If you do an assessment and realize you’ve been twisting your neck when you sleep or sitting with one hip higher than the other, etc., seek help on identifying any patterns that have arisen and releasing them before they’ve turned into 20 patterns.

Bottom line, your muscles are important and you are the best steward in maintaining health.  Do what you can to keep them healthy and any time you have an accident or injury or feel a strain from repetitive motion seek help from alternative practitioners who actually understand muscles.


*i.e. cranio-sacral or body patterning

And it’s done!

The unwinding has been crazy lately though the good news has been I could feel the final core of the core starting to release.  Thanks to a recent change in circumstances I was able to book an appointment with Hanna for yesterday afternoon.  And what an appointment it was!

I went feeling hopeful we could get another piece loosened maybe, given the degree of opening in progress.  As she worked on the rest of my body I noticed lots of places that had been stuck before seemed to release pretty easily.  When I commented, she said nothing seemed stuck and I’m a good example of what you can do with lots of bodywork and yoga, etc.  I’d have left pretty happy there!

But then she spent the last portion of our time on my head.  Things were opening in my jaw like never before and then the muscles around my eyes started releasing.  I lay there wondering if she’d think we’d made a bit of progress.

At the end she told me she felt the final locked up piece released.  She described a sense of something like a metal pole shoved down into my head and that it released entirely.  Very interesting, as five years ago at a cranio-sacral appointment Robyn “saw” the ancestral witch driving a spike down through the chakras as part of her determined effort to stop the “sight” for all future women in the line.

The lower level impacts of the spike released long ago and Robyn thought we’d gotten my head, but I’ve been contending with a lingering piece ever since.  And now it’s gone!

Release of the pattern doesn’t instantly release every knot in the muscles, but they’re opening at quite a pace.  My usual experience has been it takes a few days to a week for muscles to complete all the opening possible from such a release.  As the unwinding continues, the cool thing is there is no longer a big pull back every time a knot tries to open, which I sense as the absence of the big locked piece.

A few places with muscle issues remain in my body; unclear whether the releases in my head will finish these.  And of course life is constantly putting kinks in muscles so some degree of body work and practicing my Flowing Body work will be life-long.

I’m elated, dazed, disbelieving…  finding it hard to imagine what life looks like without being centered around this long ordeal with my muscles.  But hey, blocks in head are gone!!!  Woo Hoo!

Yoga for the Homeless

Since I’ve been practicing yoga for 30+ years and teaching off and on for something like 25, it seemed only fitting that my first participation in the We Are the World Blogfest should share a positive and uplifting piece about yoga.  I love the idea of offering yoga to homeless people.  Knowing the power of yoga practice to balance your energy and move you into a stronger more centered space, I imagine these programs (this isn’t the only one out there) are having an important impact.

The five co-hosts for this month’s event are:

  1. Belinda Witzenhausen
  2. Lynn Hallbrooks
  3. Simon Falk
  4. Sylvia McGrath
  5. Damyanti Biswas

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Muscles: 4 Steps Forward, 2 Steps Back… Forever?

Helen yoga

Helen yoga (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trying to post the last couple of weeks has been an interesting process.  In this time of transition I have SO many ideas swirling through my head, so many realizations arising; much of it is interconnected.  Right now I’m struggling to sort my way through it all and my mind doesn’t seem to have its usual organizational abilities to sort through it all and create posts.  Not to mention that much of it is still in process…

I will get back to J2P Monday again, but right now the one arena where I seem to have some coherent thoughts is about muscles.

Last time, I talked about how muscles intertwine, squeeze off energy and can take a long time unwinding.  This time the exploration moves to the up and down process of healing muscles.

You see, no matter how much body work you get or how many muscle-healing exercises you’re doing, life is still going on.  You sit with your head twisted to the side watching television and that’s twisting the muscles in your neck.  You hit your head on a cupboard door and tighten a bunch of muscles in your jaw, neck and shoulders.  Your boss goes on a rampage and you tighten your whole body.  If you have really tight muscles, the tight ones are pulling the healed pieces back into tightness.

For a long time I found that at every massage appointment the first half — at least — was spent getting out the kinks that settled back in between appointments.  Increasingly I tried to make sure to do yoga and/or soak in a hot bath before an appointment so I could work some of the kinks out on my own.

When I created my movement work, it was just for me and I practiced numerous times in between appointments, often achieving more releases.  Sometimes my practitioners said I came back in even better shape than I’d been in at the end of the last appointment.

At this point I generally make appointments at a time when I can spend at least an hour-and-a-half beforehand on doing the release movements and yoga and then soaking at least 20 minutes in a hot bath.  Very little time is wasted in my appointments on retrieving lost ground and the fact that I’m looser and in balance makes it easier to achieve some deep releases.

Even with these efforts, there were times when I fell or slept in an awkward position and lost some ground.  With TMJ, even though the muscles in my face and jaw were unwinding, I clenched in the night and tightened it back up.  Sometimes I had stellar spells when the movement seemed only forward.  But most of the time the process of healing my muscles moved more like four steps forward, two steps back.  Always getting better, but an up and down process…

The healing moved much more quickly when I developed the exercise sets that so deeply trigger releases in the muscles but still it has been kind of four steps forward, one step back.  Always up and down.

When I say I’m almost done, I’m referring to the patterns of muscles currently in my head.  There are still a few other places that haven’t let go.  And I’m always aware, body work and doing my exercises is a life-time commitment because as long as I’m alive my muscles will ever be subject to sitting “funny”, bumping into things, tension, etc.

There is no such thing as DONE with muscles.  If you want muscles that are relaxed, strong and healthy, it’s a lifetime commitment to taking care of them.  Even when you’ve solved any specific issues you may have, you still have to work at keeping them healthy.

My variation on the trauma exercises

After I worked with the trauma exercises a few times exactly as they’re described in Berceli’s Trauma Release Process (see previous post) I wasn’t too keen on the warm-up exercises.  The first six exercises are basically to fatigue the muscles so that it’s easier to get them to release.  They’re also pretty tough on the quads and REALLY hard on the knees.  Initially I thought I’d just give the same instructions I’d give my students for modifying those.

But I’ve been working with muscles and movement for nearly three decades so I know there are other ways to get muscles ready to release.  I started experimenting with a couple of different lead-ins to the release exercise itself.  First I tried a series of yoga poses that I do regularly that deeply stretch a lot of muscles in the thighs and groin as well as fatigue the quads.  When I shifted to Berceli’s seventh exercise–the release piece–I had a huge release on the first two inch lift where the previous times I only experienced some quivering in the first two levels.

Next I tried doing the hip release work from my Robert Masters-based movement work and then some yoga and psoas stretches.  Again, enormous release right from the beginning of the release process.  Instructions for these releases are in my booklet, Restoring Fluidity and Freedom of Movement.

I thought I’d give you two different yoga series to use as warm-ups for the release.  If anyone really wants my modifications to the original series I’ll provide them in another post.  Various poses are known by more than one name in different traditions and over time I’ve just made up names for some so don’t worry if you recognize some of these as having a different name.   Instructions for the release itself are below the two sets of yoga poses.

First Series

Modified Chair Pose

I don’t recommend this if you have knee issues.  Stand with your legs and feet together.  On an inhale, bend your knees and lift your arms straight out from your shoulders with your wrists bent so that your palms are facing outward and your fingertips point to the ceiling.  Don’t bend your legs any farther than your place of comfort.  While you hold continue deep breathing.  Start with just a few breaths and try to work up to holding 20-25 long deep breaths.  Take as much time as you need to increase the hold — months if necessary.  If you feel any pulling or discomfort in your knees discontinue.

Downward Dog variation

Get on the floor on hands and knees.  Plant your hands firmly and make sure that the pressure on your palms is extending to the top of the palms (just below the fingers).  Once you get into the pose keep checking the pressure — if you rest on the base of your palms you’ll overextend your wrists.  Once your palms are set, inhale and then on an exhalation lift your hips toward the ceiling.  Make sure that your back is straight and long.

English: downward dog posture I took this pict...

English: downward dog posture I took this picture for use in the Anahata Yoga instruction manual. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do not lift your shoulders toward your ears — keep them down so that your neck is long and free.  Bring your heels as close to the floor as you comfortably can without forcing and then lift your right foot and wrap it around your left calf/ankle.  Continue long deep breathing.  Start with about four deep breaths and over time work up to 20-25.  After four breaths bring the right foot down and lift the left foot and wrap around right calf/ankle.  Hold four breaths (working up to 20-25).

Prayer to Cobra

When you complete the second side on downward dog, come down into prayer/extended child’s pose.  Your bottom should be on your heels. Bend forward from the hips and bring your head as close to the floor as you comfortably can.  If your hamstrings or low back are tight, try folding a blanket or getting a bolster to place behind your knees so that you can rest instead of tightening your legs to hold the pose.  Stretch your arms out on the floor in front of you, extending as far as you can.  Take a couple of breaths in this pose.  Then on an inhalation slide your nose forward along the floor and push up into cobra pose when your head is between your hands.  When you exhale bring your nose back down to the floor and slide back into prayer pose.  If you’re using a bolster and it moves, just don’t go all the way into prayer pose.  Start out doing just three or four.  If you can, work up to 12-15. If you’re not familiar with these poses or the movement isn’t comfortable, do just a cobra or a camel pose as your backbend.

Side Umbrella Pose

Stand with your feet about three feet apart.  Turn your left foot so your toes are pointing out to the side.  Angle your right foot toward your left at about a 45 degree angle.  The heel of your left foot should be pointing toward the arch of your right foot.  Turn your torso to face the left leg.  Clasp your hands behind your back.  Inhale and stretch upward so your back is nice and long.  As you exhale bend forward from the hips.  Keep your back straight for as long as you can.  The ultimate aim is to bring your face down to your knee/lower thigh (and your back won’t be as straight) but do NOT go any farther over than you can go with comfort.  When you’ve bent as far as you comfortably can hold for a second and check your balance.  If you feel secure, lift your clasped hands and try to bring your arms up and over your head.  For many people it takes a long time to get anywhere near the full pose.  It’s worth practicing because it is a fabulous stretch for the low back, hamstrings and pecs.  However far you can go into it to begin with you WILL be getting some stretch and that’s what will help the muscles open.  Hold for 4-12 breaths (start low, work up).  On an inhale feel as if a pulley from the ceiling is lifting your hands and let your whole body glide up.  Turn your feet to face front and then change to the other side and repeat all.

Wide-leg Table Pose

When you complete the Umbrella, turn your feet back to face front and walk them out, heel, toe, heel, toe as far as you comfortably can and/or until you have a good stretch on your inner thigh.  Inhale to a straight back and exhale, bending forward from the hips.  Place your hands on the floor so that your back is flat and parallel to the floor and your arms are like the legs of a table.  Start out holding for about 4 deep breaths.  Over time try to extend until you can hold for 15-20 long, deep breaths.  Do not stretch beyond your comfort zone and do not hold too long.  To come out, walk your feet in, heels, toes, heels, toes until you can comfortably bend your knees and roll up.

Standing/Moving Forward Bend

Stand with your feet a few inches apart.  Make sure you’re well balanced on your feet.  Inhale and straighten, stretching your spine long.  Exhale and bend forward from the hips, keeping your back straight.  There are several levels at which you may do this one, depending on your flexibility.  For the most flexible, bend all the way down and grab your big toes; keep your legs straight.  On the next inhalation, straighten your arms while still holding your toes and lift your head.  On the exhale, grab behind your ankles and pull your chest as close to your thighs as possible, head down.  When you inhale, grab your toes and lift your head again.  Continue this movement pattern with the breath.  Begin doing four and work up to do 15 reps.  If you’re less flexible, you may have your hands on your shins or on your knees instead of holding your toes.  If necessary have your knees bent (but try to keep legs straight).  When you inhale keep your hands on your knees or shins and straighten your arms and lift your head.  When you exhale, grab behind your knees or shins and pull yourself down as far as you can go with comfort.  Continue this movement pattern with the breath.  Begin doing four and work up to do 15 reps.

Second Series

This group of poses have been my saving grace for tight, out-of-balance hips and psoas. I know they open that whole area so I wasn’t surprised when they turned out to be great triggers for the release.

Cobbler’s Pose

Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together, your hands holding your feet together and the outsides of your thighs facing or on the floor.  Push your knees down as close to the floor as you comfortably can.  If your inner thighs are already screaming, lift your knees a little higher.  Make sure your spine stays straight and if that means you need to lift your knees a bit more, lift them — always take care of that spine.  If this position is as much as you can take, just sit like this and breathe deep.  If you can take a bit more, bend forward from the hips keeping a straight back and place your elbows on your inner shins, adding a little pressure to stretch the inner thigh a bit more.  If that’s as much as you can take, stay there and breathe deeply.  If you have a lot of flexibility keep the pressure from your elbows and continue bending forward to bring your head as close to the floor as you comfortably can.  Wherever your stop, take long deep breaths and hold for at least four.  Over time work up to hold for 10-12 breaths.

Eye of the Needle (for hips)

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.  Raise your right leg and place your lower leg sideways across your left thigh just above the left knee.  You should now have a big triangular hole between your legs.  Put your right hand through that hole and grab behind your left knee.  Put your left arm around the outside of your left thigh and grab behind the left knee.  If your hips are really tight you might need to just stay here.  If you can, lift your left foot off the floor and bring your legs a little closer to your chest.  At the same time press outward with your right elbow on the inside of your right leg.  If that’s as much as you can take, stay there.  If you can go farther, lift your shoulders and head and with your hands pull the left leg closer to your chest.  Wherever you need to stop, hold and breathe deeply.  Start with four breaths.  Work up over time to doing 8-10.  Switch sides, left lower leg across right thigh, left hand through the hole to grab behind right knee, etc.

Log Pose

This one is a little more demanding for the hips.  If they’re really tight, stick with the previous pose until you’ve loosened up.  Sit on the floor as if you were going to sit cross-legged and stack your lower legs so that your right lower leg is directly on top of your left lower leg.  If necessary let the knee of the top leg lift but if you can, keep your knees down.  If this position is already stretching your hips as much as you can take, stay like this.  If you can do a little more, inhale to a straight spine and exhale bending slightly forward from your hips.  Place your hands in front of you on the floor.  Stay there if that’s your maximum stretch.  If not, continue bending forward to bring your head toward the floor.  If you can go all the way over, rest your head on your hands on the floor in front of your shins.  Where ever you stop, breathe deeply.  On each exhalation try to stretch a little more.  Hold for 4-6 breaths.  Over time try to extend the hold for 8-12 breaths.  Inhale back up.  Switch legs so that your left lower leg is on top.  One side will usually be tighter than the other so don’t be surprised if you can go more deeply into this on one side than the other.

Reclining Lotus

Unless you have pretty flexible hips and pretty good knees, either skip this one or do the easier variation below.  Sit on the floor and place your right foot as high up on your left thigh as you can get it.  Then put your left foot as high up on your right thigh as you can get it.  Place your arms behind you and slowly start to lie back.  Then bend your arms and rest on your elbows. If that’s as far back as you can go, stay there.  Otherwise, continue back until you are lying all the way down with your legs still in lotus pose.  Hold for four breaths.  As you practice, expand to 15-20 breaths.  Inhale as you use your arms to assist you in sitting back up.  Switch the legs so your right leg is now cross on top of your left and repeat all.  To modify, bend your right leg and place on the floor as if you’re about to sit cross-legged– outer thigh facing down, right foot on the floor, aiming toward the general vicinity of your left hip.  Bend your left leg and place the foot on your right thigh as high up as you comfortably can.  Go through the same slow process of lying back in stages.  Check in at each stage to see if you need to just stop.  If you can, lie back on the floor.  Same breathing instructions.  Inhale slowly up with an assist from your arms.  Change sides and repeat.

I also generally add a lunge pose variation that’s much like what I learned as Half Cobra only without raising the arms.  I also do a pigeon pose series that has about four different positions.  I don’t want to try to explain it with only words and I don’t have pictures, so do these if you know them, don’t worry about it otherwise.

The Release

I recommend that you buy Berceli’s book and use his photos to assist in doing this piece.

When you complete the warm-ups (one or the other or both of the series above), sit on the floor in the opening position of cobbler’s pose (see above) and then lie back in a reclining cobbler’s pose (you can do a search and easily find pictures of what this one looks like).  Hold for a few breaths and let the muscles relax.  Your arms can be wherever they’re comfortable; resting on your stomach, over your head or at your sides.  Then lift your pelvis about two inches off the floor and hold in that position (soles of feet still together, knees still open to the sides) for a minute.  Then lower back down and lie in reclining cobbler’s pose for another minute.  Sometimes I stay here a bit longer as it really helps some of those muscles release.  Your legs may begin to quiver.  Let them.

Next, raise your knees about two inches and hold in that position for two minutes.  This is the point at which I start getting some big releases when I do the yoga poses first instead of his warm-ups.  With his warm-ups there’s more quivering at this stage.

Bring your knees another two inches higher.   Hold.  Let any quivering, shaking, etc. keep going.  If there are any releases let it continue.  When the release stops or after two minutes of quivering, bring your knees two inches higher.  Stay there and allow the quivering, shaking, etc. to go on as long as you can.  If you need to, stretch your legs out on the floor to rest before continuing or at any point when you feel tired.

Place the soles of your feet flat on the floor and have your knees somewhat apart.  The quivering should begin again pretty quickly.  Let the shaking move on up into your pelvis, low back, shoulders, etc.  Sometimes my head and arms also start moving around.  Allow this to continue as long as you can; even 15 minutes or beyond.  If you’re body is feeling fatigued, stop at any point.  With the warm-ups I’ve been doing, I actually have releases in other areas of my body starting with the first two inch raise of my knees.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Trauma release exercises

 

English: Thai massage Polski: Wykonywanie masa...

English: Thai massage Polski: Wykonywanie masażu tajskiego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Earlier in the week I experienced my first Thai massage (see post).  Marilyn, the masseuse, loaned me a book about releasing trauma from muscles:  The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process by David Berceli, PhD.  I read a little and then looked at the final section where there are instructions with pictures for doing the exercises to release trauma.  The book itself wasn’t grabbing me but the exercises sure did.

So today for my peaceful Sunday I decided that letting go of some of the deep stuff that keeps hanging on would be my choice for being peace.  As I often do, I have a few complaints about lack of instructions for beginners and lack of some kind of slow build.  I do yoga postures often that cover most of the muscles being worked on and these exercises were tough for me.  I know many of my students would need a much slower process of working up to all the reps and the long holds.  There are also a couple of places where the picture shows, say, one foot lifted in the air, but nowhere do the instructions tell you to lift a foot.

That said, the final piece–in which you hold a reclined cobbler’s pose and keep moving your knees up–where you allow your muscles to quiver and shake to release trauma was amazing.  I’ll have to do this for a while to complete the process but just on day one I can feel a difference, particularly in my pelvis and low back.  It also unleashed a dramatic burst of energy throughout my body.  I love any technique that helps people to take care of their own issues; bodywork can get to be very expensive if you have a long-lasting problem so anything that moves it along faster or allows you to deal with the problem yourself is okay by me.

Once I’ve done that a bit more I’ll write up a set of instructions that include a more step-by-step approach to building the ability to do them and suggested modifications.

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Three years–wowie zowie

By Tayunea on Wikimedia

Since I’m still not back in the world all the way I’m a little behind on things.  So it slipped by me the other day when WordPress told me I’ve been blogging for three years.  Doesn’t seem possible.

I’m ever more grateful for this lovely community and the fact that I’m always meeting new wonderful people.  I love the connection with all of you but I want to give a special shout to those who’ve been part of my blogging journey since somewhere near the beginning.  It’s amazing to me that we’ve been in one another’s lives for three years.  Whether you’re a new friend or a long-time blogging buddy, I’m so grateful we found one another here!  I’m so thankful for the many lessons and insights I’ve received from all your thoughtful, heart-felt posts.  Thanks everybody!

Yoga tip:  Lots of yoga postures for abs involve lying on your back on the floor and raising your head or head and shoulders.   Lots of students complain that it hurts their necks.  As with so many things, form makes all the difference.  Most of us don’t really use our necks properly.  It’s easy to use your shoulders to do some of the neck’s job and in these postures I find most people tend to both hunch their shoulders slightly forward and lift their shoulders up toward their ears and then tighten them.  That position is all wrong for your neck and the wrong position is quite painful.  Make sure your shoulders are back slightly and pulled down from your ears.   Since the neck muscles are often underused and/or overly taut, the muscles that are supposed to hold your head in this position will probably be sore at first, so some pain may still be present but it should feel different when you’re just pushing some muscles beyond what they’re used to rather than scrunching your neck unnaturally.  If you’re holding an abs move with your head up for a while keep checking your form to make sure your shoulders are staying in proper position–down and back.