A while back a yoga teacher friend told me that I say, “if your yoga practice isn’t healing you, you have to ask yourself while you’re practicing the same ol’ way.” I didn’t remember saying this…it sounds kinda, well, mean. This must be why people say I’m “straightforward.” But, it was this epiphany which led me into the gym three years ago. After massage and acupuncture and reiki and yoga and yoga therapy and somatic therapy and cranial sacral work and chiropractic and physical therapy and every other expensive homeopathic woo woo option, I thought, “Maybe I need to do something other than yoga.” I’d not done anything other than yoga for about 9 years so it was scary. At the time I could balance in handstand but couldn’t stand on one leg; my psoas was on fire all the time from repetitious stretching a weak muscle; I had over developed quads and underdeveloped glutes…the same was true for my triceps and biceps, respectively.
With the help of a trainer and some significant strength work and changes to the way I practice asana, I’ve healed many of these imbalances. But, my jaw. My jaw has hung on for dear life. A physical therapist gave me some strange exercises to do which involved staring at my third eye and moving my tongue which sounded kinda like kundalini – which my dear friend Annie calls kindaloony – so I was never too disciplined with these exercises. I just kept wearing my expensive night guard to sleep and begging my dentist to readjust my bite every six months.
When I went to California for a yoga retreat last month, I realized – for the first time in years – I had no jaw pain. I thought, “5 hours of yoga each day and the ocean must’ve done the trick.” but upon arriving home, the pain soon returned. and it occurred to me randomly – which is often how insight for my students’ downloads too – that at that training we did tons of fish pose and exercises to strengthen the neck which kinda resembles what the P.T. had suggested minus the kundalini. (By the way, I love kundalini yoga and often integrate it in my classes…sat nam, my friends).
I’ve brought fish and some other poses back into my home practice and already I feel more ease in my face. I’ve long understood pain in the body to be a request for more strength. and here the lesson is again with the jaw and neck: work the muscles and they’ll release.