Bodies grow tight around places that hurt. Though a lifetime of yoga practice has made me more aware of it and able to break the cycle, I sometimes still catch myself holding tension around old injuries—a hip damaged by ballet, an ankle sprained five times in various acts of klutziness. Ironically, this holding, which is sometimes a very subtle gripping, can create new pain. Letting it go takes attention to that almost imperceptible armoring.
Releasing a similar kind of protective holding around emotional pain can be cathartic. All kinds of feelings emerge in yoga when tight bodies release: happiness, tears, bliss, sometimes all of the above. One of my students burst out laughing in a private lesson, and kept laughing for a long time. I sat with his laughter, knowing he wasn’t laughing at my teaching—there was simply something in him that had to come out. He later explained this, but I already understood. It had happened to me when I went to an energy healer, and I knew what he was feeling. It’s not only pain that we pack away in contracted hearts, backs and bellies, but our capacity for joy.
Movement and physical sensation reach places that words can’t. I taught an introductory yoga session to one of my college classes—a course on stress management—and young woman told me afterwards that nothing else had worked for her, none of the relaxation techniques or journaling or time management. But in yoga, for the first time she could remember, her mind had come into the present moment. The noise stopped. The quiet spaces in which words fall away are part of what makes yoga so healing. Sometimes that silence in the mind lights up when the body is holding a difficult asana, sometimes during the flow of a vinyasa, sometimes during the deep release of restorative pose.
One of the characters in my new book Soul Loss starts studying yoga because his psychologist and his physical therapist both recommend it. He’s a beginner, coping with injuries to both his mind and his body. When I was doing revisions, I almost removed a scene that takes place during a yoga class. It was mostly inner work, not plot development of the mystery, but I left it in, with misgivings about its value. My critique partners all commented on it, not only on the scene in general, but specifically on the break-though and insight the character has in the same yoga moment. In the big picture of the plot, the scene turned out to be a pivotal part of the story after all. A book isn’t only about solving a mystery; it’s about the arc of characters’ growth and change. In Soul Loss, yoga is part of that arc.
Amber Foxx is certified in Integrative Yoga Therapy and teaches yoga to college students and to older adults. She is the author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mysteries, a genre blend of suspense, romance, general fiction, paranormal, and mystery without murder. Soul Loss, released on June 15th, is the fourth book in the series.
To learn more about Amber and her books, visit http://amberfoxxmyseries.wordpress.com
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