In my last enews, I mentioned that in this issue I would address the art of Body Surrender Yoga. Last month I introduced the Body Surrender Meditation work--if you didn't get a chance to read that you can read it on my blog.
I had the chance to practice this process I call body surrender yoga this morning, a practice dedicated towards loving your body.
I was prompted towards this practice since I've been struggling over the past week with work stress and feel my body-mind's flight & freeze response.
In my journaling and self-reflection this morning, I felt the freeze reaction in my tight guts along with the racing feeling in my heart like I was ready to take flight.
I mention this to you because I find the Body Surrender Yoga to be hugely valuable as we experience the bumps and bruises in our emotional body's journey through this life. It is a process where we learn the skills of self-care, self-soothing and emotional self-regulation.
Many of us were not given effective or helpful emotional connection and support in our "training to be humans" throughout our childhood development. In this way the connection to our body and the capacity to self-care, self-soothe and emotionally self-regulate is compromised and we seek tools that help us love ourselves more directly and effectively.
Our emotions live in our body as well as our brains, so when we are given emotional connection and support from our caregivers, our body is nourished by this nutrient called love which scientists have found live in a neuropeptide called oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone!
I know this quest for self-love is what unconsciously drew me to the path of yoga 40 years ago! Wow, I've been doing yoga for 40 years!
So, if you are feeling an emotional bump or bruise or in need of self-love keep reading and if you are in a place of abundant well-being and ample self-love maybe file this away for the future when your body & mind need a dose of oxytocin.
The Steps to Body Surrender Yoga
1. In some ways the first steps are just like the Body Surrender Meditation where you take time to recognize the feeling--simply feel what you feel in your body. In this first step you locate the emotion or feeling, and name the the sensations within the feeling or emotion.
As I mentioned earlier, I discovered my fear as a tight and frozen feeling in my guts and a feeling of a racing heart. Maybe you will discover something like this or maybe its sadness as heaviness or collapse in your lungs and heart.
2. After you recognize the feeling in your body, then the next step is to welcome the feeling with curiosity by simply asking, "Fear (or whatever the feeling is) are you stuck inside or are you free?"
10 times out of 10 the emotion is stuck since we hold against our emotional bodies that are needing simple and natural expression--remember emotion comes from the latin roots "e" "movere" which means to move outwards! So its not about holding onto our emotions, its about finding safe ways to let them flow or move.
3. After you've recognized and welcomed the emotional body its time begin your yoga practice to support the movement of body, emotion and energy! Here are 2 approaches to body surrender yoga.
Option 1: Try these mantras to move you: Ask the area of your body where the emotion is stuck, "What movement or yoga posture would free me?" or "relax me?" or "open me?" or "energize me?"--take a moment and listen, your body-mind may guide you into a favorite posture or stretch or something quite new.
For those of you who have a rich background in yoga and healing movements, let your body memory of what nurtures you take the lead here.
And for those of you relatively new to yoga and movement, trust that your body can guide you with a couple simple movements.
The way you know if you have listened to your body is that you will either feel the emotion soften and sooth or you may have an emotional release--in other words, you release the holding against the emotion and the emotion moves--you cry, you shake, you shout. This is good!!
Option 2: More than anything our emotional body needs a nurturing connection so try postures that form some kind of embrace, gentle compression or condensing into the area of discomfort
for instance in my journey this morning with my tight guts, I simply laid on my stomach and did windshield wiper gestures with my lower legs as my knees were bent so that my belly gently rocked from side to side against the earth to soothe and soften the tension, as if mother earths hands were rocking me!
the child pose, hero, sphinx, spinal twist are all good poses that offer a gentle compression/connection into the guts or heart where most of our emotional body is felt
in this journey of healing your emotional body, you may find that your breathing wants to be more dynamic. Studies have shown how deeper or more dynamic breathing engages our limbic brain into expression. Try kapalabhati breathing which also mobilizes the energy in the guts. If you don't know the kapalabhati breath here is a link that takes you to the University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine Program where they teach it.
For me in my journey this morning after a few prone windshield wiper movements along with the sphinx and hero poses and a dose of kapalabhati breathing my tight belly released, my heart softened and I cleansed my soul with tears. Surrender to the body and allow the body to process, just like a child!