Now that I’ve retired from my private psychotherapy practice I’m free to immerse myself in yoga once more. You may recall that in my 30s and 40s I was a yoga teacher whose life was shaped by yoga. Yoga helped me maintain some degree of calm and stability in spite of my childhood trauma. Now in my 70s I’m indulging my passion for yoga once again.
And what do I find? Lots of changes. Recently I returned from a weekend workshop in Pennsylvania at the Himalayan Institute. Our power and life-seeking energy get trapped in the lower body, they told me. We also hold our sadness and our fears there. Yoga teacher Shari Friedrichsen taught us how to release that holding by tightening and releasing the abdominal muscles as well as the sphincters in the perineum, urethra and anus.
‘The more time I spend strengthening and stabilizing the floor of the pelvis, bringing in the breath, practicing hip openers, strengthening muscles that hold the pelvis in place, the quieter my mind becomes. I make decisions based on knowing, rather than a sense of dread and multiple choice. My emotions are feelings rather than storms.’ (Yoga International, “A Firm Foundation,” Shari Friedrichsen, February/March 2005.)
Back at home my new yoga teacher also instructs me to “fire up the bundas.” Bundas is a sanskrit word for locks.
These locks keep the life energy or prana from flowing freely, assuring our health and wellbeing. Today’s yoga trains us to move the ama (the gluck) from the body through practicing agna sera as described by Shari in the above quote.
Yoga was always right for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. (See my blog post “Why Yoga” – June 2, 2010. ) Now with its awareness of memories and emotions stuck in the abdominal area and the pelvic floor, yoga once again becomes for me the body movement of choice for abuse survivors.