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Balance is the holy grail of health. I want to lead you to that holy grail.
In Chinese medicine, there is a system called the Five Elements which encompasses everything in the universe. These elements control all areas of the physical body, underlying energies of the body, personality, emotions, substances of which we and the planet are made, the seasons, the cycles of our lives, the cycles of our days, the cycles of our experiences, everything.
In Energy Medicine Yoga, this is one of the systems we use to help us locate imbalances in the body and bring them back into balance. Once the body is in balance, it does what it naturally wants to do, and that is heal.
If you have a headache, or an earache, or you keep tripping, or keep getting small paper cuts on your hands, or blisters on your feet—you're out of balance. If you have diabetes, can't sleep at night, are always angry, or have a more serious diagnosis—you're out of balance. And the start of healing is to find balance.
Emotions are the connection between the body and the mind, and tuning in to them is one of the most powerful ways to enter in to a healing relationship with yourself and find out where your imbalances are. The brilliant neuroscientist Candace Pert was the first person to scientifically prove that your emotions affect your body, and your body affects your emotions.
Emotions are huge drivers of our physiological systems. How we respond to the world around us has an enormous effect on whether we are in love or in fear. In love, when we feel calm, grateful, or even simply peaceful, the energies of growth and our immune system are active and strong, keeping us healthy and healing injuries and diseases, large and small. When we are in fear or anger, our bodies are flooded with stress hormones and histamines and our bodies stop growth, repair, and healing.
Emotions (both joyful ones and difficult ones) are instructive, and simply denying them doesn't serve you in your quest for healing.
Each of us is governed by one of the five Chinese Elements of Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, or Metal. This element is the filter through which we operate in our lives: everything we do is refracted through its lens. In...
Tools You Can Use
Some of the most powerful tools I share with my students are ways to actively process and release emotions as they arise, and also ways to clear emotions that have become stuck in the body, causing chronic physiological issues.
Short of teaching you that physical yoga practice, I can share a part of that practice that is very simple. The body is exquisitely tuned to sound, and the frequencies of different sounds have powerful effects on the body. Each element, and each emotion, has a sound that when uttered, starts to move the stagnant energy of that element. Energy needs to move for you to heal, and simply by using these sounds, you start the process of awakening these stagnant energies, moving them out and healing the systems that they govern.
The sounds are:
Whoooo (as if you're blowing out a candle)
Haaaaaa (aspirated not vocalized)
The Ujayii breath (which is made by putting slight pressure on the glottis in the back of the throat and creating a "Darth Vader" breath, with the lips closed)
These help move the energies of water, wood, fire, earth, and metal: the emotions of fear, anger, anxiety, worry and grief, respectively. Each of these elements and emotions govern a different area of the body, and by expressing these sounds, those areas start to gain more ease and resilience on their way to healing. Together they encompass your whole body.
A beautiful way to experience this simple practice is to get yourself out in nature somewhere.
Take your shoes off, connect directly to the earth, and start to make these sounds
You can do one sound per exhaled breath for a short five-breath practice
You can do all of them on one exhaled breath, and repeat that several times.
Or if you're working with one emotion strongly, you can focus on that.If you're in a time of fear, you might spend time exhaling: Whoooo. If you're in grief: Ssssssss.
After doing these sounds for a while, stop and sit still and tune in to the sounds of nature around you. Sit for a time and start to feel yourself a part of the place where you are. Let your ears open to take in all the sounds, and then tune in and listen to your own heartbeat. Notice how it is one of the sounds surrounding you. You are a part of everything.
During this practice you might feel surges of emotion, followed by a deep calmness. If you feel extremely emotional and aren't sure what to do, place one hand over your forehead, like you're taking a temperature, to let the emotional energy settle and to stay calm.
The beauty of Energy Medicine Yoga is that the practices are extremely simple, and also extremely powerful. My teacher, Donna Eden, says if you can't do anything, if you're stuck in bed, depressed, or injured and can't begin any of the things that you know might help you: Make. These. Sounds. They are enough to get your energies moving and your whole being onto the path of health, joy, and vitality.
Lauren Walker will be teaching The Energy Medicine Yoga Prescription, June 10 – 15, 2018, at 1440 Multiversity.
Lauren Walker is the author of Energy Medicine Yoga: Amplify the Healing Power of Your Yoga Practice and The Energy Medicine Yoga Prescription. Recently named one of the top 100 most influential yoga teachers in America, she has taught at Yoga Journal Conference, Wanderlust, Omega, Kripalu, and Hollyhock retreat center on Cortes Island, and has been featured in Yoga Journal, Mantra, Yoga Digest, and the New York Times.