Yoga tends to draw in everyone from the full out “woo-hoo” (like me), to the most practical and pragmatic of them all.
Because yoga works! It helps us accomplish the health and wellness goals we’re aiming for. But as you dig deeper into yoga physiology you start to understand how it works on a more subtle (dare I say) energetic level. It’s incredibly important for us to realize that what we do on our yoga mats and meditation cushions can a have a real POWERFUL effect on our lives. This power ought to be respected and used wisely.
My Cautionary Tales
I’ve always been a believer in the “unseen” forces of life, however it wasn’t until my recent “playing” with these subtle energies that they really came to life for me.
As did the ancient yogis, I often incorporate the lunar and seasonal cycles into my regular yoga practice.
One particular full moon, I decided to do a releasing ritual.
I dabbed my “release” blend of essential oils on my chakras, meditated on my releasing mantra and said a prayer of surrender as I fell off to sleep.
The next morning, I woke feeling ill. I decided to do a yin style asana practice, with lots of forward folds to calm me down. In the middle of holding a seated forward bend, the craziest thing happened.
I got so nauseous that I had to head to the bathroom “just in case.” I shook and sweated like I was going to need that toilet, but didn’t (thank God).
The whole thing lasted about 5 minutes before I could return to my mat for final relaxation.
In hindsight, I realize that the “subtle” ritual I did the night before, was likely the cause of my brief illness. Like my body was attempting to physically release anything that didn’t serve me.
I could have easily written this incident off as an outlier but it wasn’t the first time such a thing had occurred.
Some years ago at a yoga for mood weekend retreat at the Satchidananda Ashram in Virginia I had a similarly weird experience. The first day of the retreat was all about using yoga practices to stimulate you OUT of depression. So the focus was on revving up the solar plexus. Day two was the opposite. Calming you out of anxiety and overwhelm.
I thoroughly enjoyed most of day one, but by the end of the day I was super agitated. I had a massive headache and a big dose of heartburn.
Let’s just say I did NOT feel great!
I spoke to the workshop facilitator about my current state of discomfort and the gist of what she told me was this…
All those anti-depression practices are energetically stimulating to your solar plexus and nervous system. Because that’s the area (or one of them) that suffers when you’re depressed. So for a very high intensity person like me, who already is “hot” natured and has a very strong fire in my solar plexus, those stimulating practices just burned me up even more.
In essence those day-one practices brought out more of my “hot” qualities and created an imbalance of too much heat. AKA heartburn and agitation.
Suffice it to say I was looking forward to the calming practices the next day of the workshop.
The lesson for me at this stage of my yoga practice is clear.
There are many things in yoga that are subtle and unseen. But those qualities don’t make them any less “real” and powerful.
You see anytime we set an intention to release something that no longer serves us, whether that be a negative believe or physical toxins in the body, we often experience what modern medicine calls the Healing Crisis (or the Herxheimer Reaction).
This reaction is easy for us to understand on the physical level. When we release toxins out of our tissues, they get released into the blood stream. If however, our organs of detoxification are unable to remove those toxins from the body fast enough, we can experience negative symptoms. Things like, nausea, fatigue and headache.
Think about what you may go through when you try to quit coffee. A caffeine withdrawal headache is not uncommon. This is one example of a healing crisis.
However we often don’t think we should experience these types of symptoms we when release emotional or spiritual toxins.
But remember, emotions are energy too. When we consciously release them, through healing energy modalities like yoga, those emotions have to also find an exit route, just like physical toxins have to find an exit route from our bodies.
Emotion toxins also exit through the body, which can lead to feel physical symptoms like nausea, fatigue, aches and intense anxiety and anger. All natural consequences of a releasing and detoxifying healing process.
With that said, we want to make working with the energetic body as ease-filled and pleasant as possible. Here are a few suggestions to work with your energetic body successfully and use these energies in ways that can transform your life for the better.
Be crystal clear on your intention. I’m reminded of a phrase Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith always says, “energy flows where attention goes.” So if you are looking to create something in your life by using your yoga practice, be 100% certain of what you’d like that creation to be. For example, if you want more health in your life, focus one hundred percent on that, and remove your attention from anything negative happening in your body. That means no complaining, even if those complaints are justified.
Create space for the “Fall Out”. As with anything we do, working with subtle energy has its consequences. So if you’re going to do a releasing ritual, for example, set time aside that day for quiet journaling, reflecting and if need be crying, to thoroughly process what gets released.
Be aware. That’s just the thing about yoga and subtle energy, its….well…subtle. That means you have to pay attention to how you feel. Before you do your practice, take note mentally or on paper of your emotions, of how your body feels and of what thoughts you’re thinking. Then, do the same thing after you’ve done your practice. Be completely honest so you’ll know if your rituals are moving you in the right direction.
Remember, for every breathing exercise, chant, pose, and prayer recognize that your intentions are indeed real, and have a more powerful effect than you probably think!
Here’s to a energetically aware week Mama!
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