Loosen the emotional and physical “grip”
By Nancy B. Loughlin
Published in News Press on October 11, 2016
It’s a different kind of tension. Fort Myers Yoga Bird teacher Anna Withrow calls it The Grip.
Withrow credits yogi Shari Friedrichsen for introducing her to the concept of the grip.
“The grip strikes where we’ve decided not to let energy flow. The grip is a means of self-protection,” Withrow said.
The grip manifests itself energetically, psychologically and physically. We grip our pasts, our anxieties and our stories. The grip latches on to our lives, our minds and our bodies.
In order to thrive, we have to loosen the grip.
Experiment with the grip
When you sit, round your shoulders and drop your chin. You are now blocking your heart center.
Hold this position, and notice how you feel. What are the destinations of your wandering thoughts? Do you feel fatigued, closed off, paranoid or emotionally constricted? Do you feel shame, sadness or grief?
Does the mood follow the pose or does the pose follow the mood?
“It’s a chicken vs. egg thing,” Withrow said. “The physical posture not only reflects but creates.”
Regardless which manifests first, the mood or the posture, the body is your corrective course of action.
The Heart Center
If your slumped and rounded posture indicates a heart grip, either energetic or physical, sit in a chair, feet flat on the floor. Pull the padding from under your sitting bones so you can sit straight.
Focus on your posture. Lift and separate your collarbone so you can feel the tips of your shoulders stretching in opposite directions. Be sure your chin is parallel with the floor.
Close your eyes, breathe and open your heart.
The Navel Center
The belly core is about the energy of security, sexuality, creativity and personal power. It’s the energy that processes life.
“It’s the pranic hub of the body,” Withrow said.
Yet, she explained there is a “collective shame” centered in the belly. People are afraid they will not receive what they need in this world when they ask.
To loosen this grip, begin by lying on your back with your legs bent, soles of the feet on the floor. On the exhale, isolate and lift the lowest muscles in the belly by squeezing your hip bones together. With just as much concentration, inhale, loosen the grip, lower and relax. Continue for 10 repetitions.
The Jaw and Voice
If your voice is obstructed and your willingness or freedom to speak your truth is hindered, this is a grip on the Visuddha chakra, the throat.
With such a grip, you may feel clenching in your jaw, grinding of the teeth and tightness in your neck and shoulders.
Begin with Lion’s Breath. As you sit, take a deep breath through your nose. As you exhale, open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue and raise your gaze to your third eye. Repeat ten times.
Then, move to Bee Breath. As you sit, close your eyes and exhale while making the sound of “Mmmmm.” Close your ears with your thumbs and cover your eyes with your fingertips. Feel the vibration of the breath soothe your senses.
Close by massaging your temples and your jaw.
Your hands reflect multiple centers in the energy body. They conduct your connections and interactions with the outside world as well as your giving and receiving. They enhance your expression and give shape to your creativity.
“So much of that mental stuff gets worked out in your hands,” Withrow said.
Nowhere is the grip clearer than when your hands are rolled into fists.
Move to tabletop, hands and knees position. This time, turn your hands around so the inside of your wrists, not your fingertips, are forward. Rock back and forth, stretching your wrists while pushing your palms into the floor.
After a minute, sit on your heels or a pillow, massage your hands and release the grip.
For more information, visit YogaBirdStudio.com.