Yoga Metaphors: Playing Dead

Discovering the mental obstacles through my physical practice.

Years ago at massage school we were taught that our problems manifest in physical form. If my vision was poor then there was obviosly something in my life I didn't want to see, and if I had a sore throat I apparently wasn't speaking my mind about something. Any doctor with any sense would say that's a load of bull.

Many massage therapists lose street cred in the medical community because massage schools teach that stuff. But psychology is a tricky subject. And the mind is easily as mysterious as the body.

An Ephipany of the Heart

Anyone with a yoga practice can likely relate to having a weird fear of certain poses. I'm not afraid of King Dancer pose, but I hate it. With King Dancer it's an ego thing. I don't like doing it because it humbles me and I hate/love that. Fear is a different animal.

For whatever reason I'm terrified to go into the Bridge and Wheel pose. The split second before I "go up" my heart practically stops and I choke a little on my breath.

There are many things I can attribute that fear to. And who knows? Maybe it's not always the same fear source. But this morning it was that old "heart opener" metaphor that did it. Lately I've been protecting my heart and "opening it up" in bridge, then wheel this morning caused some waterworks. Sweet. Nothing like a good, cleansing cry to get me back in touch with my needs.

The Playing Dead pose - I'm not sure what's the most neglected pose in a home practice, but corpse pose is definitely mine. I'll wake up, crank out some sun salutations, and tell myself "I don't have time to rest".

Wow. I wonder if that neglectful move will manifest later? For those of you who might not know or understand the benefits of corpse pose, it comes at the end of a yoga practice. My favorite metaphor is that it's like hitting "save" on your computer after you've cranked out an essay. Maybe that's true - probably not - but I've defnintely felt the results from having an "awake nap" for ten minutes.

Try This Pose

While an "awake nap" might sound like an oxymoron, I'm actually training my mind and body to be more restful throughout the day by taking ten minutes to lie still, not move, with eyes shut, yet not fall asleep. Corpse pose helps me later when I have to sit up, move around, eyes open, yet not fall asleep. Because sometimes life is exhausting. But life is nowere near as exhausting if I take my "awake nap".

So, this morning I realized I've been skipping corpse pose for almost a month. Yikes! And I realized this when the wake-up timer went off and the waterworks began again. Whoa. I needed that, too! Jeez. It's Always About Balance! I'd argue that doctors might, at the very least, entertain the mind-body problem.

And anyone who went to my former massage school might want to consider that sometimes when you get a sore throat it's because there's bacteria in your body and you just might need an antibiotic. I'm eternally grateful for my massage school experience because it allowed me to entertain a completely different way of thinking:

  1. Doctors aren't gods 
  2. Antibiotics, steroids and pain killers don't cure everything 
  3. Some of the crap that goes wrong with me I can fix myself I still get sore throats that are completely unrelated to me not speaking my mind. Which is every sore throat because I rarely don't speak my mind. 

So, I'll take an antibiotic, and usually take chinese herbs. And I practice yoga. And the metaphors help. If I pay attention to them.


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