Bracing for Impact
I went to the physical therapist with a complaint about my right hip. The deep, nagging pain had become prone to snapping, abruptly biting at me with sharp intensity. I wanted help training it to relax, whispering it into submission.
The therapist had me stand, back to him, with my arms by my sides. His trained eyes scanned my body, looking for any hints of the underlying dysfunction. Quickly, his gaze settled on my lower left side. “The tension is in your abdomen,” he stated, gesturing me towards the table.
Biomechanically, it made sense. Tightness in the lower left side of my abdomen was causing me to curl in, a subconscious plea to release the strain. In doing so, my right hip and periformis were being constantly tugged on. After being patient for so long, they had finely resorted to screaming for help.
As he patiently worked to convince the pulling muscles to let go, I wondered about the source of this adhesion and tension. I debated if it was a symptom of my endometriosis, uterine tissue driven by wanderlust to settle under my left hipbone.
But then I had another thought.
What if this wasn’t initiated by a physical cause at all.
What if I, nine years after the tsunami, was still bracing for impact?
Yin is a type of yoga where each pose is held for several minutes. It’s designed to slowly soften the fascia- the tough, fibrous tissue that wraps over our muscles and binds us as we age.
A yin hips practice is surprising emotional. Rage sweeps the mind like a flame at an all-you-can-eat oxygen buffet even as your body is gently supported by bolsters and blankets. Tears slide down the cheeks until a small pool of sadness puddles below your peaceful reclined face. Giggles abruptly surface, startlingly loud in a quiet room.
The body and mind pull against each other, the mind encouraging a strategy of flee while the body tenses in response to the stimulation and argues for a posture of “fight.” And caught in the middle of this struggle is you, folding into yourself, feeling trapped in the center of the discord. Unable to move your body, your brain goes into overdrive.
Yin hips can’t be rushed. I know, I’ve tried, even going as far to do the videos and 1 ½ speed. It doesn’t work. You assume the shapes. The body participates. But the mind is still on the floor, throwing a record-setting tantrum.
It takes time to learn to let go. We grow into our stories, become anchored in our bodies. We form habits. We fear release. We hold on as though the act of holding on is the only power we wield.
Until that moment of surrender. Of breathing into the discomfort. Turning in instead of tuning out.
As soon as the mind relaxes,
The body follows suit.