Module 5: Mind-Body Connection
Weeks Reading Material
Do you remember the last time you felt nervous or anxious? How did it make your body feel? Maybe you got an upset stomach, diarrhea, sweaty palms, or a dry mouth. These are the reactions of our thoughts and emotions. Did you know we store emotions in our muscles?
When I was in massage school, they taught us that intense emotions are stored in the muscles, and additionally, that massage helps the release of those emotions. This process of emotional release has become evident after 20 years of working on clients. While my clients are on the table, it is not unusual for them to randomly remember emotional memories that they have no recollection of being attached to still.
As a yoga instructor, I have also seen first-hand people release emotions while practicing yoga. I often refer to this as the “junk drawer of emotions.” A lot of deep emotions get stored and trapped within the pelvis. The link between the hips and one’s emotional state is quite profound and fascinating. From years of working with clients, I think most of us believe that our bodies are tight because of sports, old injuries, or aging. It is essential to look at your health as a whole, which includes your mental, emotional, and physical well being because they all feed into each other.
The pelvis is a complicated piece of engineering- with bone, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia, helping both to stabilize the body and allow for motion. Several muscles, including the iliacus and the psoas major, make up the group everyone commonly refers to as the hip flexors.
The psoas is one of the main muscles that can help release the tension. These are big muscles that tend to be tight, as we hold them in one position—whether we are standing for a long time or sitting at a desk all day, we rarely let our hips fully relax or explore a full range of movement. The psoas is one place that is a real dumping ground for emotions and is one of the main muscles that can help release deep-rooted emotions. That would explain why it is one of the most uncomfortable muscles to release on my clients. Once my clients have experienced a psoas release with me, they have to mentally be prepared to have it worked on again because it’s such an intensive and sensitive area.
The psoas runs from the thigh bone through the belly’s length and is the primary flexor of the hip; it is the psoas that lifts the leg. It is where the upper spine meets the lower spine. It originates on the lowest thoracic vertebra and each of the five lumbar vertebrae of the lower back. It extends down through the pelvis to attach on the inside of the upper femur. It passes through three major joints, hip socket, sacrum, and pelvis. If the psoas is not healthy, it can cause some significant problems in the body. The psoas is one of the go-to muscles when my clients are complaining about the low back, hip pain, or issues with their range of motion in the walk or specific exercises they are performing.
It is important to provide ways for relaxation when you are having issues with the psoas and aid in removing past trauma that allows the psoas to release. When you activate the psoas, you can release the trauma by stimulating the tissue/cell memories. The release of the muscle can be done with long hold yoga poses. The beauty of practicing these poses in your own home is that you can see which poses feel right for your body and allow the emotions to happen freely without feeling embarrassed if you were in a class. I am not saying every time you do yoga poses to release the psoas, you are going to have an emotional release, but the more you take the time to stretch these areas, the more beneficial it will be.
Here is one of my quick go-to stretches that can be done to help release the hips, lower back, and psoas, which is where a lot of emotions can be stored. These stretches were featured in an ABC15 segment where I talk about how to use the practice of checking in to address your aches and pains.
If you feel like this is an area you want to release more, I will show you additional stretches you can do.
Another area my clients and I hold emotions is in the stomach. It can affect our digestion and elimination process. I have worked with people who have IBS and other digestive issues. They have noticed their symptoms get worse when they are triggered by heightened emotions. Below are some ways to help lower your stress and anxiety, which will hopefully help you eliminate the somatic bodily responses that I noted above.
Tips to destress and lower your anxiety:
- When stressors such as family life or work disrupt your calm state, recenter yourself with yogic breathing techniques. Holding your breath for the count of three, while inhaling and exhaling while drawing the belly button into the spine, will calm the soul and clear the mind- ultimately combating stress-induced anxiety.
- When you practice the art of being present, you’ll learn how to break your day into sections in order to focus on the task at hand. Anxiety happens when you think of everything you need to do at once.
- Three yoga poses that de-stress and energize
- Savasana against the wall with three different variations of the legs. Here is a video of how to do it http://blog.sirrineyoga.com/post/3-yoga-poses-de-stress-energize-abc15s-sonoran-living
- On the floor or bed with legs elevated above heart, using pillows. If you are afraid you will fall asleep, set a timer for 5 to 20 minutes, so you can de-stress effectively.
If you are experiencing issues with your digestion and constipation due to your emotions, here are some tips to ease digestion and eliminate constipation:
- Twists and inversions
- Do three to six breaths while twisting
- Twist example-ITS(video Invigorating Tone & Stretch) 3:10-5:10: move into a twist on exhalation
- Drink warm tea or lemon water
- Stretch first thing in the morning
- Inversion-wide feet pos-ITS 25:29-26:27-hold for three to six breaths while in the pose.
- Self stomach massage-Here is the link with directions on how to do it.
- When doing the self-massage, always go clockwise and perform two to three hours after eating, or first thing in the morning, adding twists after the massage.
- After the stomach massage, drink six to eight ounces of room temperature lemon water to help aid in elimination.
Read and practice the stomach massage every night 2-3 hours after eating or before eating in the morning. This not only helps with digestion and constipation but from a Chinese medicine point of view it helps to move your chi(energy) and helps in many other ways. If you have a hard time falling asleep, it will help calm your mind down and help you to sleep better because of the focus on your breath. If you have any questions about how to do it, please reach out so I can help you.
Since you have been working on becoming more present, I want you to start becoming more aware of what your stressors and triggers are and if there is any connection to your health issues or daily aches and pains. As you identify these, see what you can eliminate or add to your schedule to help minimize your stressors and triggers. Also, see where you could implement any of the recommendations above that would help. Journal these things to help you become more aware and know what to change when things come up.
If you didn’t finish reading The Four Agreements, complete it this week.
Keep implementing the 5 to Thrive. See what worked and didn’t work last week and tweak where needed to make it work for you.
More info & tools to help release your hips and psoas
This tool to help with the Psoas Muscle https://pso-rite.com/collections/all/products/pso-rite
A podcast about this subject with guest—celebrity trainer and goop expert Lauren Roxburgh https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/recovery-podcasts/pelvic-floor-therapy/