Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Deep Thoughts.

No, I'm joking you. No deep thoughts. Just deep knots.

I have these epic, amazing knots in my shoulders, neck and back. I don't know, but it seems like Beijing stresses me out. I find myself hunched over quite often, sitting slumped in taxis, standing with one hip cocked on the subway. Bad. After a particularly bad experience in Hong Kong with one arm losing some feeling when I raised it above my shoulder, I sought the help of one of BJ's famous blind masseurs. And holy God, did she bring the pain. She actually wasn't blind. The massage place is this sort of grimy but clinical room off a busy street with a rough n'ready approach to massage. You walk in and they get to work. Most of their doctors are actually blind. And some are quite skilled. Ben had one doctor there tell him while working his back muscles that he's been dreaming a lot. They can tell how much caffeine I drink by this spot on my foot. Basically, it's magic. But it's definitely not a fancy pants massage in the States. The doctors and masseurs yell and talk with one another while pushing you face down into the table with half their body weight. Occasionally from the corner of your eye you might see flames on the floor after a cupping session. Physically, it feels amazing. Emotionally, it's kind of traumatic. Anyway, she worked and worked on my shoulders and neck, telling Ben, who was lying next to me getting worked on by an actual blind masseur, that I had some problems and needed to swim more. Do the crawl, she instructed. Ben and I both pointed out that I don't really know how to swim. Both my masseur and Ben's said: He will teach you.(referring to ben) And then she got to my big knot. The one that I keep all my Beijing stress wrapped inside. The one beneath my right shoulder blade that cuts, tingles, pinches, throbs. You know. Everyone's got one like it. And I started crying. Literally crying during the massage. That muscle was like, WAM! Exquisitely painful. I couldn't help but cry. She kept kneading. I kept crying. Oh! She exclaimed in English. You are crying! I think you are crying!

I had to take a pain reliever the next day. But since then I've been slowly melting my knots away and letting go of my tension. There's still a pinching sensation back there, and taking deep breaths hurts. But I'm getting there. And in light of all this shoulder stuff, I've begun teaching a lot of shoulder openers in my classes.

Remember my very first workshop at Lulu's? I do. It was a tuning workshop and we did cigarette girl arms for like, fifteen minutes. I was dying. It was my first time doing yoga for more than an hour and I was like, OMG! When are we going to lie on the floor!?!?! I remember vividly standing in tadasana and scooping my arms in and carrying my imaginary cigarette case. Working the shoulder blades down. So I've been working with that lately and at the beginning of class doing this:

cactus arms (sometimes i pretend to be a cactus who needs a hug)
upward bow arms (introducing wheel to almost all my clients later in the class)
and then the sweet relief of a forward fold with arms clasped behind tailbone. Holy shoulder joy!

and then again

cactus arms
cigarette girl arms
chatarunga arms (getting the awareness of all the work the body does during chatarunga by doing it standing. done this three times with two clients and the first time with ben and a friend, and both clients are like, oh! i get it!)
and sweet relief forward fold with arms.

roll to standing with some swamp monster action in the shoulders to create space.

These are all borrowed directly or slightly adapted from one of Kira's sequences. I love the idea of introducing postures in the standing variation first. And then referencing the feeling later. It made so much sense to me when Kira did it, and it seems to be making sense to my peeps. So the shoulder stuff is good. Trying to get myself and my practice back to the place it was in last year, when I just discovered how amazing it felt to stand up straight and lead with my heart. Emotionally, too. Leading with zee heart. I'm getting all, muhhh lately, and what I'm trying to be, in my classes and on my own, is yeeeeaaaaa!

Otherwise, still working on triangle. One of my clients needs a strap, and I accidentally said 'strap-on'. Woops. Hey, we practice at 6:45 am! That's before-coffee-time! Luckily her sense of humor is like mine and we both laughed maybe too hard.

1 comment:

Zen Muffin said...

i will teach you to swim too!!! in the ocean. with dolphins.

this was a very entertaining post.