There are places in the body where we store emotions.
Some therapists and body workers have noticed patterns that are typical for most, but then each person is unique. Each body contains its own road map of past joy and pain.
For me, my hamstrings hold my fear.
Fear, instinctive caution, is a gift. It keeps us safe. It’s for our survival. Fear, run rampant, can cripple us. For some people the balance between the two is effortless. The instinctive gut-based fear, when heeded, keeps us sharp. But listening to the internal ticker tape parade of fears draws us up short, it cages us.
I’ve noticed, when I am stressed out or anxious I have a tendency to walk on the balls of my feet, to tip-toe. It started as a child, and became a full time habit as a dancer. Bend and flex my foot. Bend and point my toes. Don’t take up too much space. Only touch down a little. Only feel a little. This habit left me in a constant war with my hamstrings. I was always trying to stretch and lengthen them, pull them into submission. Then, later, pulling back, drawing up short—inside and out.
My practice, today, was a love letter to my hamstrings.
As I moved through my breath and moved through each vinyasa, I felt my body let go of fear a little more. Each deeper stretch into my hamstrings was like a comforting friend saying, “Shhh, let go of it. It’s okay. Let it go.” As my muscles became warm and supple, I released all the tension of the long week, all the unknowns, all the “what ifs,” and wrote a love letter to my body with each pose saying,
Thank you. You carried me through another week. I will take good care of you. I love you.
My practice, every day, is at least in part a love song to my body.
I was taught as a child to believe that my body was a temple. Then I thought that only meant I should treat it like a museum or somewhere quiet and uptight, somewhere solemn. What I believe now is that it is a temple to celebrate, to take delight in. There are so many reasons those of us who come to yoga, to asana practice, do it. For me, today, it was for love. It was to release anything that I no longer needed. And so that I do not forget and pick those fears back up tomorrow, I will practice again. And tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: a love song, again.
May you keep only the fears that serve to make you fearless. May you lay down anything that would limit you. And may the beautiful temple of your body always be full of love songs.
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