Thursday, March 30, 2017

Body Mind - Yin to Integrate the Split Body

I recently read the book Bodymind by Ken Dychtwald for Yoga Therapy School and was intrigued and impressed.  I have been looking for a book that articulated the types of relationships between mind and body that I have been exploring in my Yin Class for the last couple of years. The chapter that spoke to me the most was Chapter 2 which provided an overview of the major mind body splits.  I was so moved by it that I used it to teach my Yin Class on Saturday.  Here is what I did:

I started with this quote from the book:

"In my attempt to explore the terrain of my own life and being.  I have discovered that my body and my mind are reflections of each other and that the emotions and experiences which have formed my personality have affected the formation and structuring of my muscles and tissue.  As I have become more aware of my own history and the realm of possibilities that it reveals, I have also become to appreciate some of the ways that these body/mind relationships can be discovered, examined and improved up."

I then offered a Prithivi Mudra the mudra of enhancing embodiment

and the Affirmation  "I trust and honor my body"

I gave everyone a copy of this handout that I took for Bodymind with pictures of all the splits on it.

I suggested that students use this class to discover where the imbalances and splits where in their body and where the felt unity and integration.

And then we began the Yin Sequence focusing on Body Splits



Start with

BUTTERFLY WARM UPS (flapping, twisting, circling, rowing, metal triangle)

Butterfly Pose is a Forward Bend that stretches the lower back without requiring loose hamstrings. According to Ken Dychtwald our back is our private and unconscious self.  Unwanted and negative emotions get stored in the back.

 Unfortunately, unwanted emotions don’t disappear a lot of times they get stored in the back.  The back can become weak because it is storing emotions like anger and fear.
Bring awareness to the back and begin to observe any tightness or holding.  Don't try to change anything just notice it.  Being consciously breathing.  On the inhale say to yourself mentally "I am breathing in" or the exhale say to yourself mentally "I am breathing out" . . .


SUPINE BUTTERFLY with two blocks

Supta Baddhakonasana is a pose with many benefits and one of them is a heart opener opening the chest and the whole front of the body,  According to Bodymind the front is the social self and the conscious self.  If the body is likened to a house then the front is like the living room in the house and the back is like the attic or basement.

As you hold this supine butterfly experience what it feels like to have your chest opened and exposed. Does this backbend feel more comfortable than the previous forward bend. How do the front and body differ in your experience today?  Is there a difference you have noticed between the front and the back? Where is the constriction in the body today?  Is it in the front or the back of the body? Is there even any constriction?




Bring your way to table.  Wrists under shoulders needs under hips and begin working through cat cow. As you inhale arch the back and as you exhale dome the back.  Back the hand behind the neck and shine the heart to the sky several tops with this movement up and down movement.  The extend the arm reach more something you really want and then thread the right arm behind the left for the revolved table pose.

The torso is the core body.  The limbs allow us to reach out and expand ourselves past our self contained restrictions and limits imposed by our torsos.  If we have a Torso Limb Split either our Arms and legs are weak and torso is strong or our torso is weak and arms and legs are strong.
Weak limbs can represent bottled up feelings.  Overdeveloped limbs are a sign of  a person who is doer and a be-er.

TORSO/LIMB SPLIT - 2 to 5 minutes each side



Stretches the back leg's hip flexors and quadriceps

Then we moved on to



SPHINX long hold - 3 to 5 minutes

The head and face are our most social aspects.  The head and the face are usually not covered where the rest of the body is.  The body below the neck is more private than the body above the neck.  As westerners we see the head as the place for the mind, intellect and reason.  This split represents the split on the mind vs. body, intellect vs. feelings and, reason vs. intuition.

The next split I investigated was the


BANANASANA - Both Sides  2 to 5 minute hold both sides

The left and right sides of the body, while they may seem extremely similar often mirror different aspects of our characters and personality. The Left is the feminine side and the right is the masculine. We can see quite clearly which shade is more dominant when we see people are expressing themselves: crying, talking with their hands.  We can often have a more flexible or stronger side.

Bananasana or Supta Ardha Chandrasana or Supine half moon stretches the whole side of the body as it works the spine in a lateral flexion (side bend) from the iliotibial (IT) band to the tops of the side rib cage.  It also stretches the oblique stomach muscles and the side intercostal muscles between the ribs



The bottom part of the body is stabilizing . moving and balancing.  The top half is seeing, hearing, speaking thinking, expressing, stroking, hitting and holding, communication and breathing
People can have big top and heavy bottom or a big bottom and heavy top.  They can have an underdeveloped bottom and an over developed top or and underdeveloped top and and over developed bottom.  This is seen in pear shape bodies or people with very large shoulders.


I ended class with a Yoga Nidra where at the end of the body scan I used the splits as tools for integration and unity.

I offered "I trust and respect my body" as a sankalpa along with "I will find the write sankalpa for me" or people to use their own personal sankalpa

After I went through the body scan.  I said

Now feel  the right and left side of the body integrated and unified
the top and bottom of the body integrated and unified
the front and the back of the body integrated and unified
the torso, legs and arms integrated and unified
the head and body integrated and unified
and now the whole body together integrated and unified.

After the Yoga Nidra I directed the class to lie on their side and a fetal position, the position of rebirth and renewal together and say something kind mentally to themselves as if they were speaking to a small child or as if an ancestor as talking to them.

After that we pushed up into a comfortable seated position using prithivi mudra and again I re-read part of Ken Dychtwald's quote

"In my attempt to explore the terrain of my own life and being.  I have discovered that my body and my mind are reflections of each other and that the emotions and experiences which have formed my personality have affected the formation and structuring of my muscles and tissue
and then re-offered the affirmation."

"I trust and respect my body."

And then I closed the class Shalom, Salaam, Pace, Peace, Om.


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