Inspired by my Yoga Therapy teacher training weekend, classes this week bring awareness to shoulders, a repository of tension for many of us. This is reflected in many expressions which connect the mind and emotion state to the body: “shoulder a burden” vs. “shrug off a problem”. We are aiming for the latter! We explore tools to help us let those shoulders drop down and be more relaxed, which in turn helps still the mind...a virtuous circle.
Using both familiar and unfamiliar poses, we play with how we can make small changes in our alignment to create more space around the shoulders, helping us to release some of that muscle tightness and holding. So in Virabhadrasana (Warrior) I we soften the elbows out to the sides to introduce space around the shoulders and experience that sensation. As always, the breath and our focused awareness help us to do this. We can feel tension melt away with releasing sighs at the start of our Savasana.
Off our mats, we can bring that awareness to notice tensions as they creep into the body, perhaps observing the mind and emotion states that contribute to this tension. We can use our breath and focus to work to release it, wherever we are, and at any time. It is not easy (where would be the fun in that?). It requires us to surrender and let go. We may have forgotten how, or be too afraid to try. But if you practice yoga, you are on the path of self discovery. So feel good about that, and take a big sigh!
Ruth teaches yoga in Cheltenham UK, weaving yoga philosophy into the asana practice to help students connect yoga on the mat to their lives off the mat.