Yoga to make your body healthier ?. Yoga to help your Immune System ?
I am delighted and impressed to have just watched Charlotte Watts on the Get Well Webinar organised by WDDTY. Her Yoga presentation focused on a style of yoga intended to support the immune system by improving lymphatic flow. Your lymph system deals with fluid in the body and the response to threats on the body, including virus’s like Covid-19. Exercise is a key element to health. The Government are allowing us all 1 exercise a day in order to help us work our muscles, relieve stress and promote natural body process that help defend us from illness and disease. Yoga is popular, effective and offers solutions for beginners to experienced yogis. So what made this presentation different ?.
Charlotte used techniques that I have been working with for 30 years within Polarity Therapy to help clients to release myofascial stress and improve lymph flow. Polarity Therapy has its own Yoga moves that therapists use personally and as advice for clients to support the post treatment phase. This form of Yoga allows you to work with your body for a truly personal approach to health, helping you to work within your body’s limits, but pushing any limiting conditions (pulled muscles, broken bones*or degenerative issues) safely. In Polarity Therapy we refer to the the technique as unwinding. Imagine a cat lying somewhere warm. Initially it will sleep, then gently start moving, uncurling its legs, extending them out as if pointing its paws, hold for a moment then completely relax. It may repeat this action or move onto to arching its back, lifting its head, then shaking itself back into action and off for more patrol time. To the best of my knowledge no-one takes kittens aside and says, “hey, buddy, this is how to stretch for health”. Cats and many other mammals follow an instinctive pattern of tension release as a natural part of their lives. So,why dont humans adopt a similar pattern. Well we do, but we grow out of it. Have you ever watched a baby sleep ?. At some stage in the bit before waking up, the baby will often wriggle, stretch arms and legs out and arch his/her back. This action often wakes up the digestive system or identifies a wet, cold nappy or an area of pain. Whatever the outcome, the process helps to release tension in the body; tension in the myofascia. Its the mysofascia that keeps the body in its shape. Its the myofascia that holds tension and restriction, identified by the nervous system as pain or discomfort. There is not much discrimination in this process between pain from an injury and pain from stressful thoughts. But if you can release the myofasica, you can trigger your own endorphins to reduce pain and discomfort, improve movement and flexibility and affect the flow of the lymph to improve the body’s own defences against infections and virus.
In Polarity Therapy the therapist uses pressure (marma) points, energy lines, auric fields, unwinding, ancient body patterning, the comforting experience of many years training and confidence in the quality of the effect of a session. Of these skills the unwinding of tight soft tissue (like muscles and the fascia around them) can be easily used in a yoga session. It does require a sense of playfulness, a willingness to listen to the body and leaving the ego behind as you learn to gyrate in random patterns. Except it’s not random, only the brain considers it to be random, the body welcomes this movement, sometimes triggering tears of relief as the body reconnects with the persons essential self and allows a flow of body intelligence that we so often suppress in this stressy world of deadlines, obligations and worst of all expectations of our own perfection.
I am comparatively new to teaching yoga, though I have loved the whole yoga world (there is a lot of it) for over 40 years. I have taught yoga for over 2000 hours since qualifying as a teacher in 2013 but it was only 3 years ago that I started to introduce elements of unwinding (myofascial release) into the classes. It felt like a natural addition but watching Charlotte I realise how much further I could and will go. For me, Unwinding needs to come out of the therapy closet and stand up as a very real development within my yoga classes. My work in Yoga has developed over the years as all good organic processes should. I now run classes for those adults with Autism, Down’s syndrome and other conditions that experience some learning difficulties as well as my regular classes for Wellbeing 9mixed class) and for Men. I hope to run classes for those with the earlier stages of Parkinson’s from September. In all these classes the use of unwinding will undoubtedly allow me to develop a greater connection with my students and the restrictions held in the bodies, minds and by extension spirits.
I’m looking forward to the rest of 2020, there is so much work to do. The online classes are developing rapidly and I will be taking time to practice the movements, listen to my body and look to introduce more unwinding for movement, flexibility, strength and immune support. Namaste
- * broken bones after the initial stages of healing and with Doctors agreement.
- I am working on some YouTube videos to demonstrate the above techniques 🙂