by Monique Minahan
Early on in my yoga practice I would often experience an emotional reaction during corpse pose (savasana). Lying still, I would get a lump in my throat and suddenly find tears quietly rolling down my cheeks. I didn’t know it at the time, but my yoga practice was releasing long-held grief from my body.
When grief and recovery from trauma have been processed by the mind, life may begin to seem approachable again and many people feel they can move forward; but the same processes of recovery and healing are essential to the body as well.
Feeling a strong emotional release in a yoga pose or during final relaxation is far from uncommon. One of yoga’s most powerful side effects is its ability to release and heal the BodyMind. Not just the body. Not just the mind. The combined, interconnected, undivided BodyMind.
BodyMind is a term coined by Dr. Candace Pert, a neuropharmacologist who pioneered scientific research into the field of Mind-Body Medicine, advancing our understanding of what are called neuropeptides, or messenger molecules that carry information from the mind to the body and back again through body fluids. These neuropeptides are found throughout our bodies in the heart, sexual organs, and the limbic system, to name a few.
Dr. Pert breaks this concept down with an example of the gut. The entire lining of our intestines is lined with these particular transmitters. She posits, “It seems entirely possible to me that the richness of the receptors may be why a lot of people feel their emotions in their gut – why they have a ‘gut feeling.’”
She further comments: “I think unexpressed emotions are literally lodged in the body. The real true emotions that need to be expressed are in the body, trying to move up and be expressed and thereby integrated, made whole, and healed.”
When we move our bodies through yoga, our BodyMind is allowed expression. It can begin to release emotion and tension that’s been stuck in our bodies for a long period of time, perhaps even years after we think we’ve mentally processed the event.
Exploring these heavy emotions in our yoga practice, whether intentionally or accidentally, might feel intimidating. Resourcing is a technique that helps us stay present during uncomfortable or overwhelming sensations by finding and connecting to a resource, such as the breath or one of the five senses. This connection works like an anchor for a boat and we can begin to observe sensations safely, without fear of getting lost in the sea of our experience.
Join me this Mother’s Day at Yoga One for a special commemorative practice where we will explore three ways to use resourcing with yoga, as well as learn how to identify where emotions reside in our individual bodies. We will focus specifically on how to apply these tools when dealing with loss and grief.
This practice is for anyone interested in learning how to use yoga as a supportive healing modality, but especially for anyone who has lost their mother and would welcome a supportive, safe, non-judgemental environment to honor their mother on Mother’s Day.
Loss is something we will all experience in our lifetime. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Our yoga practice will not show us a way out of grief, but it can show us a way through and support us through every stage of healing.
Note: If this is something you’re interested in, but find the cost prohibitive or cannot attend for some other reason, please contact Yoga One to arrange a way for you to receive the information: 619-294-7461 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mo is a writer and yoga teacher who believes in peace over happiness and love over fear. She likes to set her sights high and then take small steps to get there. You’ll find her walking the dirt path behind her house with her little fluffy dog, practicing walking her talk by keeping her head high and her heart open.
Read more from Monique on her blog, mindfulmo.com