We know from the practice of yoga that the body and mind are not separate, they are one; the bodymind. This means that our physical state of being and our current psychological state are connected - one part rarely occurs without the other.
How can we use this understanding to interpret tension in the body on a deeper level, and learn more about the current state of our bodymind in the process?
MUSCLE TENSION FROM A BODYMIND PERSPECTIVE
According to Deb Shapiro's Your Body Speaks your Mind, the muscles of our body are where we "hold" our tensions, emotions and past trauma. The soft tissues of our body (as found in our muscles) are also associated with our mental activity and thought patterns; they embody the sentence, "As you think, so you become!"
If negative thoughts and feelings go unchecked for too long they become "locked" into our muscles, affecting their physical structure. Over an extended period, muscle tension can affect the ways in we use our bodies, and contribute to our overall posture.
But it isn't just your posture that is affected. A certain posture makes a certain state of mind, and so a muscle that becomes "locked" in place maintains a certain mental attitude as well. And so the circular connection between body and mind continues!
WORK ON THE BODY TO WORK ON THE MIND
"Stress release and emotional expression are essential for muscle ease. Exercise is also vital - it not only releases muscular tension but psycho / emotional tension as well." - Deb Shapiro
Tension in the body can often indicate a tired, resistant mental attitude and/or approach to life. The places we hold tension can tell us even more about the areas of our lives in which we need to practice more flexibility and letting go.
For big transformation we need to become more aware of the mental programing at play in our minds as well as doing work to release the tension within our physical body. Ask yourself;
What am I holding on to?
What do I need to let go of?
How can I be a little more playful and spontaneous?
It is always easier to work on the body than it is to work on the mind. This is only one of the reasons why the practice of yoga includes asana (physical postures). Practicing yoga asana every day will quickly bring you physical release, improve your flexibility and help you to become more aware of your body and your mind.
But it doesn't end there. The more you awaken your senses through yoga, the quicker you can become aware of tensions and emotions as they come up in your body, and the quicker you can learn to release them!
Get in touch to learn more about how the bodymind practice of yoga can help you let go, open up, and experience life more fully!
Michellé D'Almeida is a yoga teacher and student of Ayurveda Yoga Academy with 5 years of teaching experience. She is also founder of Ayurveda Yoga Africa and co-founder of Ayurveda Yoga Africa's Online branch: Yoga Together Online. Get in contact or join her online for class throughout the week!