Tight hamstrings and unexpressed emotions

10369867_882883995096507_3644969196834567357_nI ordered my yoga teacher training books from Amazon, and even though our sessions don’t start until late March, I started reading them this week. There will be a lot going on in my life between March 28th and May 30th, what with my teacher training program and the Half Marathon I impulsively signed up for, and for once I wanted to make sure I got a head start on what I needed to do.

Most of the books focus on philosophy and history of yoga, but a couple zero in on human anatomy and how certain poses affect certain muscles. Not having had any exposure whatsoever to biology or any other natural sciences, I am particularly intrigued by that portion of the curriculum.

We talk in yoga about how we (we human beings) carry tension or emotions in our muscles. Some of us carry fear and sorrow in our shoulders, while others store anger and frustration in their hips.

Negative emotions and experiences become trapped in our tissues, and yoga is a method for wringing those emotions out. As you change your body, you also change your outlook and perspective on life, letting go of past experiences that no longer serve you.

I read somewhere that for many people, tight hamstrings – the bane of my yoga practice and sometimes even my existence – are the result of many years of unexpressed emotions, carefully concealed inside our bodies behind layers of muscle and fat. The tightness of the muscle holds the emotions in place, stored away in much the same way we store excess calories for future consumption.

My hamstrings have relaxed a bit since I started practicing a couple of years ago, but I haven’t quite yet overcome the root cause of the issue.

Many people go through their lives hiding from others who they really are. I go through my life trying to hide from others how I really feel, not wanting to seem too eager, too desperate, too opinionated, too invested… I’m basically incapable of conveying anger or disappointment without bursting into tears, and I have conditioned myself to run away from any emotion, positive or negative, that is “inappropriate” or inconvenient.

It seems like the only emotion I have learned to accept and manage adequately is fear – for everything else, I break the principle of non-avoidance every single time.

Don’t get me wrong. For the most part I feel great about my life and everything in it. For the most part, I have positive interpersonal relationships and there aren’t TOO many repressed emotions now a days to speak of. But it’s been a pattern I’ve become aware of – a lesson I thought I had learned – and when it does happen, I watch it unfold like an episode of Groundhog Day, incapable of arriving at a conclusion on the “right” thing to do.

I know I’m being cryptic and elusive and for that I apologize, but the lack of anonymity of this channel sometimes forces me to be that way.

So back I go, into the repressive regime of my own mind, still looking for the appropriate way to express the feelings I am most afraid of, and once again managing only to come up empty.

My poor hamstrings must HATE me.

Good thing my hips are nice and loose, though!

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