Ever have that horrible feeling in your gut, that anxiety/tension that just doesn't diminish? Like you did too many sit-ups, and your muscles can't relax enough to let you breathe fully, or you ate a really something really greasy and it's a knot in your stomach? But this isn't actually caused by a physical situation - it's purely emotional and it's manifested physically. You get the picture.
Someone today asked if there was yoga to do to help alleviate this. What occurred to me was breathwork, affirmation/mantra, and believe it or not, the entire concept of letting go. We so much hold on to our need to fix, to duct tape/glue/kluge our lives into some semblance of order that we are often holding in the anger, the fear, the very thing that keeps in the pain.
I offered the following relaxation technique not as a quick fix but a daily practice we can integrate into our daily routines to help us weather the chaos.
Sit comfortably, hands on the belly. Close your eyes. Allow the breath to move the belly, encourage it to do so. Resist the urge to push the belly out or squeeze it in as you might do during an active asana practice or ujayyi breath. Feel air move through the nostrils, and flow easily to the belly. If you feel the hands rise and fall, you're getting the hang of it.
Now, repeat to yourself "I allow myself to release this tension." With the inhale, say "I allow myself," and with the exhale "to release this tension." Take three to four counts to do each half-breath. Do ten cycles of breath (or more), repeating this mantra and truly accepting the idea of letting go. Check in that you are loosening the shoulder, and letting the belly move freely in and out.
Once you have finished your mantra repetition, continue to breathe easily, and notice if there is any shift in the belly tension. Envision whatever stress you may have been holding there, like ropes or braids, unravelling, dissolving into pieces, and moving through your body, and out - out through your skin through sweat, your nostrils through breath, and other elimination channels. Let your body naturally release this negative energy breaking it down to render it harmless and then purging it from you.
Continue to take easy breaths in and out, as long as need. As you wish to come back to the present, notice your connection with the earth through feet, sit bones, back body. Start to reconnect with the sensation of air on your skin, the sense of light behind your eye lids, and move the hands slowly up your body until palm meets palm in front of your heart.
Seal in your commitment to taking care of your body by bowing your head, thank your body for releasing for healing, and complete your meditation.
Give yourself permission to not take on another stomach ache. Drop me a note if this works for you - it helped me today.