Sunday morning: a little trauma release, a fine buzz, then some yoga jazz, and a tribute to a teacher

Long-time readers know I spent some time and energy on learning the trauma releasing exercises of David Berceli and practicing them. (If you’re a new reader, go to the tag cloud in the right panel and click TRE or trauma releasing exercises to see the many posts on the topic. If you want to learn them, I recommend Berceli’s book and video.)

I haven’t written much about them for a while. I still value them very much as a tool for releasing tension.

Sometimes at ecstatic dance, I allow my legs to shake for a little while, which releases leg tension, especially around my hip joint. (Nobody notices or comments, ever.)

Some mornings I wake up and just know I need to do them. I may tremble for 30 seconds to a minute or two. It doesn’t have to last long to be effective.

I imagine that the more you do them and really surrender to them, the less you need to do them. Also, the more you do them, the more aware you become of tensions accumulating in your body, and you adjust sooner — taking a deep, cleansing breath to let it all out, stretching and moving the tense area.

This morning I did them for longer, because my body wanted to keep going. First my legs surrendered to the shaking, then left my arm flapped, then right my arm flapped, then my lower spine hammered, then my upper spine waved, then more legs, and so on. It’s entertaining to witness where the surrendering moves!

Then afterward, the fine buzz inhabiting my body. Mmm.

Walk to my yoga mat. Tadasana, feeling feet, upward energy. Stretching arms up into hastasana circling to anjali mudra several times to warm up, each with my gaze a little higher, a little more backbend.

Then from hips, float down into uttanasana and just hang. Feel my tight hamstrings. Hold. Breathe. They become like rubber bands, surrendering to the stretch. Then extend spine and re-bow.

Left leg back into lunge. Feeling the tight gastrocnemius and soleus. Push heel back and breathe. Right leg back to join it. Breathe length into calves.

Plank, with spread fingers, sturdy column arms under shoulders. Feel strength. Pressing palm and fingers evenly into mat, slowly lowering into chataranga, feeling creaks and twinges in shoulders and elbows.

Once flat, press pelvis and tops of feet into floor and lift up into bhujangasana, cobra. Imagine the fronts of my vertebrae, deep in the middle of my torso, fanning wide open to give and receive and expand my energy. This spine, this flexible column of bone, fluids, muscle, nerve, this backbone. Yes.

Turn toes under. Strongly lift my body up, elevating my pelvis as high as it will go. Push palms and fingers evenly into floor. Push heels back to stretch my soles (I’m hearing my teacher Eleanor Harris now). Lift sit bones to ceiling. Feel strong shoulders. Downward-facing dog, adho mukha svanasana.

“Enjoy your breath,” as my teacher Brigitte Edery is fond of saying. And I do.

Then bring right leg forward into lunge. Then today’s standing sequence: warrior two, extended side angle, reverse extended side angle, triangle, reverse triangle, ardha chandrasana, warrior one, warrior three. Nice standing vinyasa (with room for improvement in the sequencing, I notice), and I am aware of all the different stretches each pose brings where spine meets pelvis meets thighs.

I am pleased with my balance in ardha chandrasana, but I need to put my extended arms on the top of a stool to hold warrior three. There’s always an edge. Today, and probably for a few weeks (or months, who knows?), that’s mine — balancing in warrior three.

Then back to lunge, uttanasana (notice how much deeper my fold is), extending spine, and reverse swan dive up, arms circling into anjali mudra.

Repeat on other side.

I follow with pigeon, a deep twist (thrilling as my shoulders reached the floor), happy baby, and rock to standing.

I am in my body, ready for today, for ecstatic dance, for community, for work, for learning prenatal massage.

Feeling very grateful for my friends, and for my teacher Gabrielle Roth, whose work I knew better than I knew her personally, who was so influential in opening my awareness up to new movements, rhythms, and energies in life, who is in her own life now moving into stillness. She dedicated her life to healing the mind-body split. Amen to that.

Here’s my favorite Gabrielle quote:

After you jump, before you land is God.

I’m going to light a candle and open myself up to God.

Recovering from a pulled muscle, I apply my massage skills and heal. Voila!

A couple of weeks ago, I started self-training in running, and I was walking/running on the trail, building up endurance while avoiding fatigue and injury (so I intended). I’d done the warmups recommended by my trainer and felt really good in my running—lifting my knees, almost sprinting, feeling that great-to-be-alive, heart-pounding, hard-breathing experience of really challenging my body in a healthy way. I was loving the run!

Then, running up a hill, I pulled my left calf muscle. I immediately slowed to a walk, walked for about 10 minutes, and then (ruh roh), I decided it wasn’t so bad and ran some more.

Afterwards, I could feel the pull, but it seemed pretty minor. I could walk fine, without a limp. However, I did wisely decide not to run again until it felt really fine.

Six days passed, and I went to ecstatic dance, where everyone dances like no one is watching. I love this practice, moving to music, going with the flow, connecting with others, letting go, being part of the tribe. I can get pretty wild, jumping around with a big grin, leaping from foot to foot, being danced.

If you have no clue what I’m talking about, it’s like this:

The Power Wave

So anyway, while leaping about, I suddenly felt strong pain in my left calf. I limped to the side and did not feel like dancing any more.

Thinking it was my gastrocnemius (the superficial calf muscle), I had a massage therapist work on it that afternoon. I was still limping badly afterwards, although definitely more relaxed. I went home and iced it, and then…

 A massage magazine I’d been reading was next to my bed. I picked it up and saw there was an article by Dr. Ben Benjamin on the soleus, the deeper calf muscle. It included diagnostic tests, and I verified that it was my soleus muscle that was injured. (The image shows it without the gastrocnemius.)

Guess what? It could take 4-6 weeks to fully heal. That was depressing.

Benjamin (who also wrote the fantastic reference book about muscle injuries that belongs in the home library of every athlete (in my opinion), Listen to Your Pain) gave instructions for “friction therapy” massage, stretching, and strengthening. I also put ice on it, several times a day at first and now just once a day right after I do the clinical protocol.

My leg went from maybe 15 percent to 85 percent functional within a week. My limp gradually lessened, day by day. The calf still feels just a bit tight and tender. My hunch is that the last 15 percent of healing will happen more slowly.

Anyway, I feel really empowered about using clinical massage on my own injury and seeing (and feeling) rapid improvement.

I am ready to apply that to others.