Om Shanti!

These Sanskrit words are sometimes used as an incantation at the beginning of a yoga practice.  The sounds of ‘Om’ resonate and soothe the nervous system.  Shanti is the Sanskrit word for peace, calmness & tranquility.

Many hear the word “yoga” and think of Om and Shanti; gentle stretches, sitar and melodic chants humming in the background, deep breathing and relaxation.  While yoga does integrate these pleasantries, it also brings up many UNpleasantries…

I do occasionally float out of yoga quite high and happy, but I also drift out of class at times teary, angry, spaced out, loopy or exhausted…the exact opposite of Om Shanti!

When I flow through the countless motions of my practice with great depth and focus, an assortment of emotions seep right out of my muscle tissues.  As I push myself to my edge in a hip stretch, locked up tears start to spill from my eyes, and as I twist so deeply, I feel I am squeezing out hidden layers of my soul I never knew existed!

This isn’t as esoteric as it sounds.  Therese Bertherat, co-author of The Body Has Its Reasons and a practitioner of the Mezieres Method (a revolutionary orthopaedic method, discovered in 1947 by Françoise Mézières), firmly believes that although the mind may forget, the body holds all of our memories.

“If walls could hear…”  “In the house of the body, they can.  The walls which have heard everything and never forgotten anything are your muscles.”

Through movement the body has the ability to release the traumas, repressed emotions or learned poor habits the mind may or may not be able to recall.

The next time you are in your bodywork session, yoga or movement class, I encourage you to notice what comes to the surface emotionally.  Do you feel angry when you are asked to lift and sit a little taller and hold a little longer?  Do your eyes puddle with tears when you’re asked to move into the depths of those posterior hip tissues?  Maybe you just check out entirely during your class in fear that something uncomfortable might manifest?  Try to be aware when your mind wanders or when seemingly random memories or images flicker in your thoughts.  Once you are mindful of these emotions, don’t push them away. Welcome them, sit with them, knowing that as they come up, they will also shift, dissipate and ultimately move you closer to the essence of your practice and your life.

“No matter what your age, you can open the traps that have imprisoned your inner life and your body’s behavior and reveal the free, beautiful, well-made individual that you were meant to be!”  Therese Bertherat – The Body Has Its Reasons