This weekend I took some time away from my usual teaching to take class with, and hang for a minute with one of my key teachers, Jill Miller. (there’s a little about my teacher training with Jill here.) This time, Jill came to South Boston Yoga to teach two workshops, one about core integration, one about relaxation and yoga nidra. (here is the wiki– take it for what it’s worth. I’ve been told that the “nidra = sleep” part is something of a pun, hence yoginidrasana.)
Having worked with Jill a bunch now, I knew a lot of the stuff in the core workshop, and was more fluent with it than in the past, which was nice. (I wouldn’t go as far as proficient, but it’s a good step.) But at the end, she surprised me by having us start tugging at our bellies literally. Fold, pull, stretch, palpate, tap- encouraging self massage in an area most of us wouldn’t consider doing it. For my belly issues (namely, exceedingly tight diaphragm muscles), this felt fantastic, and despite myself, a little transgressive. But it will certainly become a part of my self-care arsenal.
Jill made the point that at least in LA, it’s illegal to massage the abdomen without the express written consent of the client- LA (and I’m sure elsewhere) has literally legislated us out of our guts. It’s another indication of the dysfunctional relationship we have as a society with our bellies. We obsess about what we think they should look like, men and women both, and pray that this diet or that ab crunch will get us there. (When there’s rarely a “there” that doesn’t involve either photoshop or a camera angle…) Do we ask what it should feel like, not in our mind, literally in our guts? Are we even aware of what it feels like?
Jill herself is no stranger to belly issues, as has blogged about in detail, but there she was, leading the charge. What happens if, in private, you pat your belly, just to see what it feels like? You might be surprised.