Friday, April 5, 2013

Emotional Blocks Felt in the Physical Body

If someone would have told me 4 years ago that my negative emotions could cause physical pain in my muscles, I would have giggled quietly to myself and thought they were crazy.  However, over the past 8 months of my practice I developed an awareness of the linkage between emotional and physical pain.
Back in August 2012, I developed issues in the back of my shoulder (by the shoulder blade) and in my chest (to the right of my sternum).  During my practice, I had pain when jumping back and through during vinyasa.  I also had issues during back bending.  Before the pain started, I was at the point where I could drop all the way back from standing to the floor on my own.  However, once the pain started, I experienced a painful pulling to the right of my sternum in my chest with even the slightest movement toward back bending.  The pulling was so tight and painful, that there was a period where I couldn’t back bend at all.  The only relief I would get was on rare occasions, where a popping would occur in my chest, releasing the pulling and allowing me to back bend.  The issue faded slowly over 3 months during which time I stopped all jump backs and jump throughs and restricted my back bending to only where I could comfortably go without feeling the pulling.  I was back to my normal back bending routine and ability by November 2012.
What I realized during this time, was that the pain and tightness were related to a block in my heart chakra (Anahata chakra).  In August, around the same time my chest/shoulder pain started, my relationship with someone very close to me hit some turbulence.  The tough times continued for a few months.  As we progressed in resolving our problems, the healing of my injuries also progressed.  At first, I was skeptical regarding whether or not this was coincidence; but as time went on, I found that anytime I had a hiccup in a relationship and had strong emotions such as hurt feelings or anxiety, I noticed that the tightness in my chest resurfaced.  After tuning into this reoccurring issue for the past 8 months, I am convinced that my chest pain during back bending is related to resurfacing blocks in my heart chakra.
As a result of my experiences, I realize how important it is to not harbor any sad, hurt, angry or anxious feelings.  When I notice these feelings trying to surface, I work quickly to understand the root of the feelings and misconceptions they may be based on.  I remind myself that when a person’s actions hurt or upset my feelings, my reaction is more a reflection about me and how I view things, rather than their intent.
What clued me in to the possibility of my physical pain being related to emotional pain was a story I read in Kino MacGregor’s book, Sacred Fire: My Journey into Ashtanga Yoga.  In this book, there is a short excerpt where she talks about tightness and pain in her leg that was related to some deep rooted emotions she needed to work through.  Once her feelings were resolved, the pain disappeared and her body opened.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Is there such a thing as cheating on your teacher?

I have been studying Ashtanga with the same teacher since 2009.  My teacher is authorized through KPJAYI.  She is a really good teacher and I have learned so much from her.  However, as my passion for Ashtanga deepened, so did my desire to meet other teachers through workshops and other events.  Over the last year, I took workshops with Kino MacGregor, Tim Miller and Lori Brungard.  I also plan to travel and study with Sharath.  This leads me to a question that has been bugging me for some time.

Is there such a thing as cheating on your teacher? 

My teacher was unhappy that myself and two of my friends went to see Kino.  I do understand part of her point, that you should only have one teacher or else you will become confused by conflicting guidance.  But that isn't the only reason she was upset.  She believes that since she is authorized, she should be enough for her students and they shouldn't want or need to look elsewhere.  Am I breaking some ethical code by occasionally studying with another qualified teacher?  I still intend to study full-time with my original, current teacher; but sometimes, I'd like to meet and learn from other teachers as well.  Each teacher has different strengths, and by blending their teachings together, I feel I have learned a lot more about yoga.

Introduction of the Ordinary Yogini

I have been practicing Ashtanga  yoga for three and a half years now.  I started in September 2009 when a friend of mine inspired me to try a yoga class.  Luckily for me, the very first class I ever took was an Ashtanga class.  The level of intensity and challenge surprised me and I was immediately hooked.

The past three and a half years have completely changed my life.  The lessons I have learned through daily practice, teachers, and yogic texts transformed me into a happy, peaceful and more understanding person.  However, along the way, I found myself struggling with many challenges in my practice.  I was thirsty for more information, particularly shared experiences to provide me inspiration and support along the way.  I wanted to know that I wasn't the only person feeling a certain pain in my body; that I wasn't the only person that pushed too far one day.  I wanted to know that others too, shared similar challenges and benefits during their journey. This blog is a venue for sharing my journey with others and cultivating conversation amongst a larger community wanting to share their experiences as well.

I am not naturally flexible.  I don't have time to sit in meditation for hours every day.  I am just an "Ordinary Yogini" with a strong thirst for knowledge and inspiration.  I make time for my daily practice, some meditation and some reading.  The rest of my energy is spent on a typical, ordinary life of being a mom, a professional, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a partner.

I encourage my readers to please post comments and share your experiences regarding the topics I address.  I truly want to hear your opinions and experiences.