How I’m now using yoga to release stored tension in my body

Everyone knows that yoga is supposed to be incredibly beneficial, right? I mean, INCREDIBLY BENEFICIAL, one of the “best” things that you can do for your body and mind and spirit. So why don’t more people do it? Why wasn’t I doing it? I suppose because, in Western society, we have such a difficult time truly caring for ourselves, taking the time to do something that is nurturing for ourselves, without any other additional purpose. Other “nurturing” activities also serve other purposes, usually – for example, lovingly making yourself a good meal is not only “nurturing” yourself but, also, you need to eat anyway, right? And exercising, while I used to think was a form of self-care (and it can be, with the right intention/focus), can also be more about whipping your body into shape, which is the very opposite of nurturing yourself with love. Even taking a bath, which can be an amazing self-care luxury, also allows your body to get clean, right? And reading, which is a leisure activity for me, also allows me to learn. So, again, many of these self-care activities can be multi-tasking. So there one goes again with trying to be productive with one’s time.

I’m just speculating here, but I think that is why I never was really able to stick with yoga during my life, despite being told of the benefits. There just wasn’t enough “doing” involved in it, or something.

I’m 43 years old, and now I finally found a yoga practice that I have been able to commit to. I had tried dabbling in yoga off and on for over 20 years. I’ve tried various classes in person, I’ve tried books, I’ve tried youtube videos. Nothing stuck. 

But I read a book recently, called “The Body Keeps the Score,” and I’ve been finally coming to terms with all the various traumas that I have stored in my body since my childhood, and it’s time to finally resolve these traumas and heal. And according to this book, one of THE MOST EFFECTIVE ways of releasing and healing from stored trauma is yoga.

Here’s the thing. I HAD tried yoga a few times, off and on, for the last two years. And you know what happened? I would be standing there, breathing, focusing on relaxing whatever body part I’m supposed to be relaxing, and then I would BURST INTO TEARS OUT OF NOWHERE and start sobbing. I’m like, excuse me? What the hell is happening here? Why am I sobbing when I am just trying to do some yoga? It was like this outpouring of emotion would well up from God knows where inside me and I couldn’t control it. So, I decided, to hell with that. I’m going to stop doing yoga.  

But apparently, it’s quite common for people to get all emotional and cry during yoga. Again, it’s about releasing the stored trauma in the body. But all the yoga that I was trying still felt like “too intense” for me. I couldn’t get myself to do it.

And then, my therapist suggested that I try “Supreme Release Yoga” by joining the program of Kaya Mindlin (www.yogawithkaya.com). This is a very different type of yoga than I had ever done before. It is incredibly soothing, with each hour long session usually only including a few poses, and the focus is on truly releasing all that tension that we each build up in different parts of our body. She has an amazingly soothing manner that I love. I’ve been doing it since November and I highly recommend it for people that want to focus on relaxing their bodies and minds.

When I first started doing it, I would cry during those sessions too. But it was not too intense. As I focused on my body and what it felt like, as I would relax into the poses, I realized that it felt as though I was peeling off really tough thick but invisible armor that I had encased around my body, armor that I had been using to try to protect me but didn’t even know was there. And removing that armor was super scary, and THAT is why I was crying. But I’m getting better at releasing it now. 

It’s only been a few months of practice – some weeks only once a week, other times more like every other day. Earlier this week, Kaya sent out a suggestion that this is a great time of year for her members to try to do yoga every day for 40 days. Now, the old me would have jumped on that opportunity, and I would have made a log and tracked each day, checking it off as I completed it. And I would have absolutely needed to do it every single day or I would have failed. SO, I’m not taking up her suggestion of doing it every day for 40 days. I don’t need that kind of pressure in my life right now. But I AM making efforts to do it more often than I used to. If I can do it each day, then wonderful. And if I can’t, if I prioritize other self-care efforts instead on certain days, that is wonderful too.

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