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Articles

Yoga As Energy Healing

Unknotting a tangle is always easier if you work from both ends
by Carol J. Wyche

Western methods of energy healing view the body as a series of vibrations ranging in increasing density from "true self" to physical body. Eastern medicine starts from the principle that the body is a lattice structure of energy channels.

Western medical scientists, concerned only with what can be seen, ask where such energy channels are in the body. The traditional answer has been that, being part of the subtle bodies, they are not visible through the eye or the microscope.

However, recent research, by scientists trained in both eastern and western medicine, has been able to point with considerable justification to an actual physical location of the energy channels—the connective tissue.

Connective tissue doesn't just connect bone to bone. In the form of fascia, it both covers and permeates the muscles, interlacing through and around muscle fiber, lining organs, covering nerves, connecting everywhere in the body.

Research by Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama, who is both a Shinto priest and a western trained physiologist, points pretty conclusively to the fascia being the physical embodiment of at least part of the body's energy circulation system.

Further iformation on this can be found in Dr. Motoyama's Theories of the Chakras. Other researchers, such as Dr. James Oschman, author of Energy Medicine, and Arnie Lade, author of Energetic Healing, have come to much the same conclusion as Dr. Motoyama.

So how does yoga apply to this? Yoga teaches that the body and mind are not separate. Both are permeated with energy, called prana in yogic terminology. Prana is the Sanskrit word equivalent to ki, chi, or life force. Prana, in other contexts, can mean breath. Specific exercises exist to move energy through focus on the breath.

Yoga agrees with most energy healers that the mind affects the body as much as the body affects the mind, while spirit interacts with both. Yoga seeks balance between the mind, body and spirit. At the early levels of practice, yoga works mainly through the body to achieve this balance.

Energy healers mostly agree that both the subconscious mind and the body remember our experiences. These memories, especially traumatic ones, may be stored in physical locations. Where they are stored may be related to the actual event itself, or to a symbolic location within the body.

And where is this stored? In the soft tissues—the muscles, fascia, and organs. The body remembers long after the conscious mind has forgotten. The longer such a knot of energy stays in one location, the more entrenched it becomes, and the harder it is to dissolve. Other trauma gathers to it and the problem escalates.

By now, everyone in the western world has heard of the fight or flight syndrome. It saves your neck, but at a price. It shuts down digestion, raises blood pressure, increases heart rate, increases muscle tension, and more.

That price will be paid when the emergency is over, much like using your credit card in an emergency. Unfortunately, in the western world we remember to react, but we have forgotten how to release afterward. The autonomic system is never given a chance to counteract the effects of stress. So when that stress bill finally hits our body's credit limit we are in trouble.

Energy healing techniques work to change this situation by increasing the flow of ki in the body, particularly in damaged areas. It promotes healing of the physical by working through the subtle energy bodies to return the body to its healthy pattern.

Yoga, whether active hatha or restorative hatha, works to release stress from the physical body itself, thus allowing the ki to flow to those areas where it was previously blocked. So yoga works at the same problem from the other end, releasing the energy through movement, stretching and relaxation of the muscles and fascia.

Restorative yoga, especially, works to release physical and emotional knots held in the body through a process of gentle stretching of muscles and fascia. Restorative yoga actually teaches the mind and body to release tension so that the autonomic nervous system can take over, releasing the constant crisis mode of the sympathetic nervous system. Combining restorative yoga and energy healing works on the problem from both ends and gives the body additional energy to heal its dilapidation from years of stress.

The function of restorative yoga is threefold: to train the mind and body to truly relax; to allow the autonomic system to pay off some of its stress debt; and to train overly-tense muscles and fascia to release the protective tension they have been holding around the energy blockage. This increases the free flow of ki.

All types of yoga will enhance energy flow but some work on it more overtly than others. Kundalini yoga, for example, works to enhance the energy systems of the body with a combination of mantras and physical actions to draw energy from the root chakra up and into the crown.

The more active forms of hatha yoga work to strengthen the body and to encourage the flow of prana within it. Breathing exercises, called pranayama, promote the circulation of energy through the breath, while restorative yoga concentrates on re-training the mind and body to relax.

Just as we store memories of trauma in the body, we also can store memories of its release and the feelings of deep relaxation. Whatever we practice, we train the body to do. Therefore, it would seem advisable to train the body to release stress on command. Releasing the stress knots of the body and mind allows for clearer energy channels and clearer opening to our deeper selves as spirit.

While energy healing works with the subtle energy fields of the body to achieve healing at all levels, these subtle bodies also can be affected by the physical body. Restorative yoga releases knots of bound energy in the physical body, which, in turn, can help release or loosen blockages in the subtle bodies during this process.

Therefore, working at a ”tangle” will always go better if you work from both ends.

© 2012 Carol J. Wyche

About the Author
picture of Carol Wyche Prior to her passing in January of 2016, Carol Wyche began her practice of yoga at age 53 to deal with chronic muscle tension. She found Hatha Yoga to be so helpful that, after several years of practice, she decided to teach it. As a former yoga teacher, she taught a gentle, meditative style of yoga focused on calming the mind and body and releasing and stretching tight muscles from both old and new injuries.

She received her certification training at Yoga West in Katy, Texas, and also was certified to teach Restorative Yoga by its founder, Judith Lasater.