Movement frames much of our experience on earth. We are constantly resisting the pull of gravity and making our way around the world to accomplish our tasks, whether that be taking a shower in the morning, training for a marathon or picking up a tired child to tuck them into bed. Yoga Tune Up®, with its many tools of sensation, challenges each of us to untangle the complicated strands of our unconscious movement and then re-create a new normal, one that is informed by a fresh understanding of how we perceive our own bodies in space. Big change occurs with this teaching and I find many of my students are focused on the actions to create these new connections and perceptions.
As student and teacher, I can often become engrossed in certain sequences and routines that change range of motion and get super excited when feeling that targeted alteration as a result of a physical action. These sensed changes are a major contributor to the development of the EmbodyMap – one of the key tools in YTU to build proprioception in practitioners. But, as I toy with my own practice and watch my students, I’ve become more attentive to the Power of the Pause, the moments in the practice for reflection and guided observation of quieter changes across the interior terrain.
These short moments of stillness embedded in the practice allow for the stimulated nerve endings within our fascia to imprint the messages of movement onto our EmbodyMap. This provides an opportunity for that “new normal” to coalesce in our systems and become natural. If you are a student with hypermobile shoulders and you practice a stabilizing pose, such as “Hitchhiking Pizzas”, the muscles of your shoulder that engage when externally rotating (primarily teres minor and infraspinatus) are given fresh feedback on the sensations of stability. In the following pause, if practiced consistently, your mind and body NOTICE the sensation and mark it on your EmbodyMap to reteach the shoulders stability in the face of hypermobility.
To me, this is one of the most personal aspects of this work – allowing each student to use similar actions to re-educate their individual patterns of movement, often only accessed though the pause.
Therapy Balls help us find the power of the pause through the stimulation of the many nerve endings that live in our fascia. This stimulation translates directly into improved proprioception through the Ruffini endings, one type of sensory neuron. As stated in The Roll Model (Jill Miller, p.115), when aroused, these Ruffini endings “send two messages to the central nervous system:
- They increase body awareness or proprioception in the stimulated area
- They tamp down sympathetic outflow, sedating your entire nervous system and reducing global tension in your body.”
This tamping down of the nervous system is the pause that educates the activated area toward a new normal and provides a moment to develop the internal gaze to compare your “before” condition to your “after” condition. This creates the environment for you to be both participant and an observer of your practice. And it is this skill that will enable you to work with increased astuteness and connectedness to all the parts of yourself.
This is the Power of the Pause – after differentiating the parts of your body through self-massage and corrective actions, you then meld back together with your unfelt areas, felt. It’s time to shake hands with your blind spots as you pause in the echoes of your movement, reaching into the shaded areas of your proprioception for the light of understanding yourself.