“Sorrows which find no vent in tears may soon make other organs weep.”
- Sir Henry Maudsley, British psychiatrist (1835–1918)
In yoga, we believe that the body and mind are intrinsically connected. This means that any unease in the mind manifests as disease in the body.
I get asked regularly about ways of overcoming certain discomforts in the body or mind; for example in situations that cause anxiety, or when we worry about the future. Yoga teaches us to be in the present, thereby helping you to worry less about what has not happened yet, I totally understand that this is no easy feat, been there. Stiff, tight shoulders are a recurring theme too, so my first questions are usually “What job do you do? What do you spend most of your time doing? Did you have an injury there in the past?” Asking the right questions helps me see the bigger picture of a person's life by understanding the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects as a whole. We are the sum of all of our experiences, so in the case of stiff shoulders it may be that someone has a very busy job where they feel overwhelmed, or put upon with lots to do. The old saying “carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders” came from somewhere with reason! Or it could be just a lot of weight training.
My next line of enquiry or suggestion is “Can it be possible to delegate the cause of your strain, or has anything changed recently to cause you to feel overwhelmed? Was there a time when it wasn’t so bad? How did you feel physically, emotionally? We often disconnect our bodies from our minds and forget that everything is linked. For example as I sit here typing out my thoughts, my left shoulder feels a little stiff after a week of content updates for my website, during which I have probably spent far too long sitting at my desk. There is a conflict between knowing that I need to move more, but also knowing that the website will not update itself. As I write, I’m aware that I have taught twelve yoga classes in the last 5 days, so I was moving after all, but it is time for a little bit of R and R. Free and uninhibited movement is important to relax the body and mind, but one also needs to know when healing requires stillness.
In yoga there is a form of meditation called “yoga nidra,” during which the body remains completely still and the mind is drawn into a deep state between waking and sleeping. This is where any blockages in the mind (and hence the body) can be visited and unravelled so that when you come out of the meditation you may experience improved focus, calm, and a greater sense of healing on all levels. It’s one of my favourite meditations, especially because anyone can do it and it is super easy. Think of it as a system reset. It’s said that 45 minutes of yoga nidra is like 3hrs of sleep. Sounds like a dream in today’s time poor society.
Who knew yoga was medicine, other than the ancient yogis…Henry Maudsley was on to something. He was probably a closet yogi. That or he just had a tonne of common sense.
I am currently running monthly yoga nidra sessions, BOOK A MAT HERE, but it can also be practiced on a daily basis in the comfort of your own home too, to keep that deep healing going. Start as you mean to go on.
Your mind and body are connected, and are always communicating with each other. Emotions are an indicator for what is going on internally. If you find yourself feeling a pain in a particular part of your body, some sort of discomfort. I encourage you to take a moment to stop and breath. Then focus on the discomfort and ask yourself where its coming from, what the cause of the pain is, where its coming from. The answer may not come to you straight away but decide to pay attention and listen. You may be surprised at the answer or maybe you know and are just ignoring it. Listen to that little voice while its not too loud, when it starts to shout at you something is probably feeling wrong for you. Yoga teaches you awareness.
Life happens regardless, you choose how you show up to the party.
Love and Light