Small Talk

Yoga training: Emotion and the body

April 22nd, 2016

There's a belief that emotion is stored in the body. Pain that crops up is the body's way of manifesting physically what emotional issues you're dealing with.

Someone in class, for instance, is in perfect physical health with a vigorous exercise routine, but suddenly, when faced with an overwhelming life change, she says her knee would collapse, impeding her ability to walk.

She saw it as fear of going forward with life. In short order, she dealt with her life's changes, and the knee restored itself.

Disclaimer: we're not doctors, and please don't ignore your own pains in hopes it'll resolve itself the way my friend's did. I just like to mull the theory.

Yoga selfie! Hello!

Yoga selfie! Hello!

In yoga training, we focused one session on this idea and how yoga can resolve it, using hip opening exercises. The muscles in the hips help the knees flex, thus letting the body run or stand ground in traumatic situations, triggering the instinctual flight or fight reaction.

The idea is that instead of discharging this excess energy, humans often store it, which means we keep sadness in the hips. More than one yoga teacher I've talked to says it's not uncommon to see students crying on the mat during a class with many hip-openers.

I myself have experienced this. During times of stress, a series of poses focused on hip stretches seems to release unexpressed emotion - even those I already thought I dealt with. It's cathartic.

Some have postulated yoga is calming in and of itself, regardless of the pose practiced, because it's a chance for the mind to slow down and address the stressors without other distraction of daily life. My teacher, Amanda, says the hips in particular are our "attic" of emotional blockage, tucking away issues we don't want to deal with.

Whatever the reason, I find it a nice release. If you're so inclined, you might want to try a few hip stretches and see. Don't forget to coordinate your breath smoothly with the movements.

Did you try it and did it do anything for you? Do you believe emotion is stored in the body?
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