going deep…

photo taken on a road trip to palm springs in my favorite teeki cloud pants.

pose ~ viparita namaskar – reverse prayer. opens the shoulders, chest and heart area in order to express the feelings of the heart more freely. a silent prayer of openness, graciousness and connection to the heart center.

reverse namaste

i’ve been away in bellevue washington at a yoga therapeutics training with my teacher aadil palkhivala. the past 2 days focused on therapeutics for the neck. i have been greatly anticipating this particular topic of training since this past year i have had significant neck problems.

this year has been a challenging one, full of transitions, changes and life disruptions. many of the changes have been exciting ones, a new marriage, a career change, a published book but there have also been many  unexpected life disruptions and changes, home floods, months of construction, toxic relationships…

in the past year i have had intense neck pain. it came on 10 months ago. during this time i was dealing with a difficult work situation, an overbearing boss, a negative co-worker, an unstable carpenter who was in our home on a daily basis and the upheaval of our home due to construction work.

i felt trapped, intimidated, bullied and helpless all at the same time.

i was being treated unfairly by my boss, working every day with a negative co-worker and going home to an alcoholic carpenter who wanted to use me as his sounding board for all of the struggles and injustices in his life.

i felt angry, hurt, bullied, taken advantage of, but i was not able to speak up for myself or when i tried, i was not being listened to. i was not being heard.

aadil said something very powerful that stuck with me. our neck is our communication between our head and our body. our throat expresses and communicates. our throats want our voice to be heard. the act of speaking is an energetic act. an act of releasing. the act of listening is an energetic act. the act of receiving. when we communicate our feelings or thoughts to someone and they truly listen, the energy from our necks and throats is released. if we don’t feel heard or listened to or are unable to speak our truth, that energy bounces back to us, creating holding in the neck and throat. this leads to neck pain and tension.


what i have been learning in my studies and in my own experience is how emotions are stored in different areas of our bodies. this pose allows the lungs to open in order to release grief and feel joy and also opens up the throat to allow free expression and the willingness to speak the truth from the heart. when we release these tensions we can heal both physically and emotionally.

this is powerful stuff! how many times in your life have you been afraid to speak your truth, held your words in out of fear? how many times have you felt unheard?  how much “stuff” are you holding in your neck, your throat, your lungs? how many years of grief have you clung to?

today we did intense work on our necks. we learned acupressure techniques and methods for releasing tension. in one of the lessons we practiced a sternocleidomastoid and scalene release, going deep under the muscles of the neck, working our way up and down the facets of the neck. as my partner worked her way down, reaching deep into areas of my neck, i became more and more uncomfortable and felt a level of intensity that was almost unbearable. she reached a point in my neck that felt stuck, balled up and tense and she worked her thumb into that spot, kneading the tight ball. instantly tears came pouring out, uncontrollably, without warning. it was if a dam that had been blocked for so long opened up and released. i went to the studio with tension in my neck and left with none.

i realize that i have been holding on to words for a long time now. i have kept feelings of hurt, pain, disappointment, sadness and grief stored in my body and it is speaking to me, telling me it’s time to let go. telling me to listen.

these experiences in the past year are not been the first time i have felt unheard.

as a young girl i held in my words out of fear. fear of being hurt, fear of disappointing someone. fear of not being loved.  fear of rejection. fear of not being heard.

i share this with you because so many of us suffer in silence. wake up every day feeling pain in the physical body. carry unspoken words, emotions, tears, sadness, fear in our hearts.

as i move deeper into my studies of the energetic body i see that there is no separation of emotions and the physical body. if we do not release our emotions, they will manifest in pain, discomfort and dis-ease.


we must feel. we must speak our truths. we must listen. we must go deep. open our dams and let the words and emotions flood out if we want the tension in our bodies to subside.

i am grateful every day for my practice of yoga. for it bringing me closer to my heart center. for it bringing me closer to my truth. for it bringing me closer to healing.

if you could speak your words, your truth, what would they be?

i’m listening.

much love, Shawnee

4 replies »

  1. I hold all my stress and worry in my neck. Wish I was closer so you could help me release the tension. Hugs and Miss you!!!!!


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