You may know, and if you don’t – you surely have a hunch, that emotions play a super important role for us, determining the quality of our day to day lives. Unfortunately, many of us do not know how to work with our emotions, we are afraid of them, we shy away from them or repress them. We often times divide them into “good” and “bad” emotions, and our favorite method of dealing with “bad” emotions is repression and “stuffing it down our throat”. This prevents us from freely communicating with others and expressing ourselves, it makes us a target for manipulations and steals our independence. But, in addition, this repression also has profound effects on our bodies, as the state of our mind and emotions directly affect the body.
We do not even notice how we make the smallest of movements, contract and relax tiny muscles depending on what we are feeling and thinking. We can contract the body in fear, hunch because of our insecurity, and tense up while trying to hold back tears or anger. Our body, wise as it is, remembers all these movements. And if some unpleasant emotion visits us regularly – our body forms knots and muscle blocks. Most of us know we have them because most of us regularly deny ourselves various emotions – both negative and positive. Some people have tension in their entire body; you have probably noticed people who move like mannequins or are constantly hunching. These blocks are unpleasant in and of themselves, but they also become sources of illnesses. “Maintaining” these knots and blocks eats up a colossal amount of our energy: holding them takes up energy, and in addition to that we are constantly exerting ourselves to “overcome” the blocks as we move about our daily life. It is hard for us to relax even when we sleep – so we don’t ever get good rest. A person may feel tired no matter how much they got to sleep. But the cause is not the lack of sleep – the cause is that the body never got to relax.
In a tense body it is almost impossible to relax the mind. And vice versa – when the emotions are tense the body can never relax, the muscles are constrained. There is an interesting, albeit a bit morbid, fact that confirms the connection of our musculo-skeletal apparatus to different emotions. When a person dies, most spinal curvatures (scoliosis, lordosis, etc.) straighten out and most knots and blocks resolve themselves. This shows that, for the most of their lives, people held these blocks with their own feelings and thoughts.
Some of the most common muscular blocks can be divided into seven segments.
- First segment: tension in the eyes, face, forehead. Can result in poor vision, headaches. Sometimes it can seem like the person is wearing a mask, unable to express emotions.
- Second segment: jaw, neck. Constant tension and “crushing” the jaw, leading to bruxism – a condition where peoples grind, gnash, or clench their teeth, often during sleep.
- Third segment: neck and tongue. Here you can notice tension in the voice. The person cannot speak loudly or speaks in an unnatural tone. General repression of emotions and inability to express oneself.
- Fourth segment: this is a big one, including the areas of chest, shoulder blades, arms, and shoulders. This is the area of blocking laughter, anger, crying, and joy. Instead of feeling free to express, a person holds their breath and breathes shallow. Pay attention to your breathing – how fully do you breathe?
- Fifth segment: Diaphragm, solar plexus and back. Usually this is where we repress strong anger.
- Sixth segment: Low back and stomach. This is fear of being attacked, dislike for someone, repressed frustration. Most people who are unable to relax this area have a strong curve in their low back.
- Seventh segment: muscles in the pelvic area and legs. This is the area of blockage for sexual desire and bodily pleasures in general. For example, is a woman’s pelvic area is blocked men aren’t seeing her as sexually attractive.
Now on to the good stuff. How do we work with a body that is full of muscle blocks? It is impossible to just go get a massage and get rid of the blocks for good. You may feel relief for a little while – but in just a few days, the blocks will come back. The tension will return and the person will start hunching or clenching again. And, conversely, if the blocks “live” in the muscles for a long time they start influencing the emotions and state the state of mind, so just working through emotions isn’t enough either.
Successfully working with this issue comes from a combination of body work and emotional work, and this is where the combination of yoga and aromatherapy can have a profound effect. Yoga as a physical practice of asana is designed to address the muscle blocks and tensions we hold in our fascia – a connective tissue that, like a film or a cobweb, wraps all the muscles in our body. It is in the fascia where the tensions and blocks form, as fascia can get “stuck” in certain positions because of physical (the way we sit all the time, work on computer, etc.) and emotional (repressed emotions) factors. The flow of yoga goes through movements aimed at warming up the body and them stretching it in ways that releases muscular “clenching”. Aromatherapy, on the other hand, has the power to deeply affect our emotions and release some of the stagnant, repressed feelings we have been holding on to (I go more in detail about how this process works here). Thus, combining the practice of yoga with synergistic aromatherapy can, over time, address all seven segments of blockages to create a free and expressive body. Some aromatherapy, like the Deep Blue and AromaTouch blends and Marjoram oil, are aimed at accomplishing both simultaneously – soothing the muscles while relaxing the mind.
We constantly communicate non-verbally through our body so the state of it matters a great deal. Our body constantly “speaks” to others and they “read” ours states even if they are not aware of that. Relaxed people who can enjoy life’s pleasures and who do not carry excessive tension are very attractive and people want to be around them. It is as if their freedom and joy are contagious and people want to be around that. Leisure, work, exercise – all areas of life become more fulfilling and “alive” when our body is free and functions naturally.
If you would like to try out a combination of yoga and aromatherapy and take and aromayoga class, feel free to check out my teaching schedule here. In each one of my classes, we work or way through a theme (abundance, surrender, ancestry, responsibility, devotion, etc.) and use synergistic aromatherapy and sequence to deeply release the body and emotions. And if you are curious about adding oils to your already existing routine to deepen its effects explore the options of doing that here.