This is an excerpt from Guiding Yoga's by Nancy Gerstein.
To discover the roots of tension.
3 to 4 minutes
Today, through breath and body awareness, we’ll work with and through body
From the yogic perspective, every tension has a cause. Ask yourself what’s causing
you to be tense today. Where do you hold this tension?
Tension can originate from anything: relationships, work, anger, fatigue, caffeine,
sugar, even something that happened many years ago that still lingers. Muscle tension
blocks the natural flow of lymph, hormones, nerve impulses, blood, and pranic
energy. Eventually, these blockages affect other parts of the body, creating weaknesses
and lowering resistance to disease and infections.
It’s the ripple effect.
Tension may also be caused by excess. We can overdo things such as food,
exercise, work, even rest. We can spend too much time doing something or in the
presence of someone we don’t like. The key is to discover our needs for balance in
our lives-or at least what balance means to us today.
Our yoga practice teaches us how to use our body tension as a learning tool to
guide us into the areas of ourselves that we feel we need to work on.
Let’s now lie down in shavasana. Tune into the body on the ground. Feel the parts
of the body that touch the ground. Pay close attention to the breath. This can be difficult
because if the mind is busy, it’s moving much faster than the breath. The breath
may feel awkwardly slow compared to the speed of your thoughts. Acknowledge
this without judgment. Keep practicing.
In your mind’s eye, gently look inside for the tight areas. Explore where you hold
tension and what may be causing it. If your shoulders and neck are tight, ask them
why. Keep your eyes closed and let your mind open up. A few simple words or visuals
may come to you. Take the time to look clearly at what’s there.
Asanas for Deepening
Practice approaching poses with tension. For instance, go into trikonasana (triangle)
with exaggerated shoulder tension, then consciously remove the tension. Naukasana
(boat) releases a central acupressure point located between the navel and the breastbone.
Long, deep breathing in this pose helps free body tension. Shoulder openers
release tension in the shoulders and upper back. During gomukasana (cow’s face),
feel the hips settling to the ground. Frustration and anger are often lodged in the