It seems over the last few months, I am noticing when the yoga instructor suggests: ‘soften something’. It is such a great cue and so relevant across multiple settings. 

The ‘cue’ might have resonated when the instructor suggested the whole class to ‘soften something’ as she gently placed her hands on my shoulders. Between the general cue and the visceral touch, I released the tightness I was creating in my shoulders. It was a significant shift and I had no clue that I was holding my shoulders so tightly in the warrior 2 pose. The gentle cue and touch resulted in significant ‘space’…a subtle shift creating noticeable change in the experience of my body.

It was a ‘whoosh’ release of bound energy that I didn’t even realize I was contributing to.

Speaking of shoulders….

Over ten (15?) years ago, I was swimming in the ocean. I was not ‘play’ swimming in the ocean waves at shore, I was swimming a distance for a workout. I was out beyond where the waves were crashing. Where I was, the ocean was turbulent and the current was strong. Deep waves were rolling and my right arm caught one early as I was taking a stroke – it caught me ‘out of rhythm’ and tweaked my muscle.  

Fast forward to November 2018 when I began a daily obsession with yoga. I have always liked yoga, and the concept of aligning breath, body, and spirit through movement was a ‘duh’ to me intellectually – like, how could that not be good (?)

In sync with my own patterns – when I LIKE something…I LIKE it. Examples: I would never stop drinking coffee if I didn’t get shaky, I would never stop drinking wine if I didn’t get tired and incoherent, I would never stop laughing at something funny if it didn’t get weird, I would never stop eating…if I didn’t run out of food (?) – ha. Anyway, I joined a yoga studio that includes multiple locations and class offerings. I wanted to go to EVERY class as often as I could. In November, I didn’t just like yoga anymore – I LIKED yoga. Insert chaturangas out of alignment and overuse – and my shoulder ‘peaced’ out.

Stick with me.

A few months back I found myself on a massage table with a gifted practitioner. And by gifted, I mean otherworldly – heat emanating through the center of her hands.

I had told her about the swim incident, it was the only thing I could think of as to how the weakness in my shoulder originated. The recent yoga obsession wasn’t the first time I had overused my right shoulder resulting in that uncomfortable tweaky-nerve sensation.  In previous incidents, the pain sensation would go away once I stopped or slowed down whatever I was doing – I didn’t want to stop yoga.

The massage therapist told me: ‘you had a trauma that attempted to heal itself and created a dysfunctional pattern in your body…I can release the trauma in your muscle and over time your shoulder will realign back to its natural way.’ (it’s not like I quoted her…but that’s how I think I heard it)

At this time I can tell you that my shoulder is healing. I notice a significant difference and I am certain I am on the right path. However, I will say that it did get worse before it got better.  I never stopped going to yoga, but I did find myself attending the more ‘chill’, slow classes – which is a great new habit. Yin and Restorative yoga classes are a GIFT to all humans. 

I am also reprogramming my back muscles to stand/sit in a way that supports natural alignment in my shoulder joint and muscles. Additionally (but for another blog) I receive acupuncture that works complementary with the massage – and obviously, yoga practice has a role in the healing as well. Acupuncture and yoga gave me my knees back – another blog.

The point of this story is the message about how an event (trauma) can occur and without meaning to, we can attempt to heal ourselves and inadvertently create dysfunctional patterns that may manifest in different ways (sickness, physical or emotional pain/discomfort, relationship/career issues, etc). 

My shoulder is returning to its best way of being a shoulder by releasing the trauma, me telling a story about the residual pain that is oriented toward a healing path, practicing habits that support a shoulder’s natural way (slacking my shoulders, THEN tightening my lat muscles while tucking in my low ribs – the exact opposite of what I was doing and thought was helping by lifting my shoulders and keeping them up closer toward my ears),  and allowing/trusting the nature of my shoulder joint and muscles to return to their original alignment in their own best way. 

Is there something that you can soften?

In the awareness of letting go, or softening, you may find a new path toward a more natural state of alignment with the best way of being you.