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Shame: The Swamp Land of the Soul
The Practice:
Dismantling Shame Through Yoga

  1. Sensation: Notice the clench around the heart, the tightening of the muscles of the chest drawing the heads of the shoulders in towards the breast bone and the heart leaning backwards, caving in the chest. Tune into the sensations inside of the body that happen when you believe in a thought that is not true.  Use these sensations to help you find truth and dismantle the belief system.
  2. Get Expansive: Notice when you want to retreat and hide away and begin to create the opposite, stay where you are, open your arms, sit with the legs wide open, lift the chest, take a deeper breath instead of a tiny one, stand up and stretch out, Get BIGGER! Take up SPACE!
  3. Finding center again through alignment: With shame, there is often a swinging from feeling good to feeling bad.  Bad person ego ——————– center ———————- Good person ego
    You can use physical alignment to get the body’s posture out of the triggered state and signal the nervous system to re-balance. Posture is very powerful.  With shame, depression, and anxiety there is often an exaggerated rounding of the thoracic, a hyper curving of the cervical spine, and the centers of the body are no longer stacked over each other.  Stand in Tadasana and feel the connection to the earth through the feet, stack the center of the perineum, center of the lower and upper abdomen, center of the heart, center of the throat, and center of the brain over each other. Feel your connection to earth and sky and that central channel through the body.  Our posture is a way that we communicate and it can signal others to continue to play out our painful stories about ourselves. Without our usual habits of posture, we can explore different habits of thought and communication.
  4. The Message of Doubt and Fear: Realize that when it seems that all signs are pointing towards, “yes, you should doubt yourself, you should be afraid, and you are obviously not good enough” that this is the moment of faulty thinking. This is the cat in the matrix. There are signs that normally take you down the path of believing them to be a clue that you should retreat into shame. These signs are the exact moment for you to reverse your belief patterns. What would normally trigger a downward descending spiral, becomes a cue for you to believe in yourself and to be courageous. This is the moment to be vulnerable and to recognize that you might start believing in something that isn’t true, this is the cue to be courageous and vulnerable. The cue that you are good…. Let triggers become supports because you know they usually take you into a path of believing in something that isn’t true.  Use them to take you into a place of believing in something that is true.
  5. Cultivate a deep reverence and honoring of sadness: There is something beautiful about sadness because it can take you into a place of finding truth and once you have found it, you get enormous strength and inspiration and passion for life from it.  Shame and being ashamed of being sad can get in the way of the messages that saddness and pain have for you.  Let the sadness bring you the messages that you are looking for.  Our culture does not approve of sadness or depression; it heralds positivity, smiles, and lightness. Being someone that is willing to go into the darkness and someone who stays awake to feelings and invested in life is not easy here.  Often people feel shame for their sadness and attempt to hide depression which the hiding and covering of it stops the process of unfolding and discovering truth.  Try to allow yourself to be sad and be careful when feelings of shame around your sadness come up because they can block the growth that the sadness led you to realize and understand.  Sadness and introspection can lead to great growth. Only when we do not allow ourselves to go there does the stagnancy of depression set in. We cannot make changes if we condemn ourselves for the process that it takes to make the changes. If we do not allow the process, then we cannot grow, we get stuck. Allow the movement and natural growth and change to happen by allowing the sadness and honoring it.
  6. Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
  7. Observe Impermanence: All things change, nothing ever stays the same. Spring always comes after winter. When we are in a feeling, it can feel as though it will always be like this and if it just stays this hard and dark and foggy then why keep living? Begin to cultivate a witness, a witness of the impermanence of these feelings.  Remember this as you are in the depth of sadness.
  8. Focus on the Inhalation: Draw in larger inhalations than exhalations. When we feel shame, we contract the chest and pull all the ribs closer towards each other. This limits the amount of expansion the lungs can create to pull in oxygen. When we do not get a full breath our perception of reality shifts, we get tired, and stuck in looping thoughts. Draw in larger inhalations to spread out the rib cage, to give the heart space, and to feel clarity in your thoughts.

Yoga Sequence for Shame:
Shame is often physically held in the armpits, especially the Pectoralis major and minor and the connecting muscles between the shoulder head and the breast-bone.  This sequence targets chest opening specifically in the connection between the arms and the torso.

  1. Lay on Blocks. Place a block under shoulder blades and one under the head. Stretch arms directly out to the sides in a “t” shape.  Concentrate on the inhalation and fill up the chest creating expansion with the breath.
  2. Viparitta Dandasana in Chair (3 stages) 5-30 minutes
  3. Handstand
  4. Pinchamayurasana
  5. Head Stand
  6. Sun Salutation A
  7. Belt Circles – Take a long belt and stretch it between your hands. Make full circles from the front of your body overhead to the back of your body.  Keep the shoulders down the back and the chest lifting the entire time. Do not let the shoulder-heads poke forward or creep up towards the ears.
  8. Interlace hands behind back and fold forward in Uttanasana.  As you fold forward keep taking the fingers toward the floor with the exhalations.  Keep shoulder heads back and use it to stretch space between breast-bone and shoulder heads.
  9. Trikonasana (very expansive pose)
  10. Ardha Chandrasana (very expansive pose)
  11. Vira 1 (brings out the warrior and commands you to take up space)
  12. Salabasana (arms close to body, arms out to sides like a “t” shape, arms forward)
  13. Bhujangasana
  14. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
  15. Dhanurasana
  16. Parsva Dhanurasana
  17. Purvottanasana
  18. Lay on Stomach and stretch arms straight out to sides in a “t” shape. Roll onto your side keeping the arm stretched out to the side. Do this to stretch connector muscles between shoulder head and chest. Breath into the armpit as it opens. Do both sides
  19. Bridge Pose
  20. Shoulderstand (5 minutes)
  21. Lay on Pranayama Blankets
  • Extended inhalation (with shame, one makes themselves smaller, taking smaller breaths, use the inhalation to create space between the ribs and fill the lungs with oxygen and open up the space around the heart)
  • Ujjayi Pranayama

22. Savasana

Inspiring TED Talks on Shame:

Brene Brown: https://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play;_ylt=A2KLqIUTfJtUtV8AM1b7w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTByN2RnbHFoBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQDBGdwb3MDMw–?p=ted+talk+on+shame&vid=67bd71acccf89d68c7dfe519cfae70c6&l=23%3A26&turl=http%3A%2F%2Fts3.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DVN.607998242299119030%26pid%3D15.1&rurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DL0ifUM1DYKg&tit=Bren%C3%A9+Brown%3A+Listening+to+%3Cb%3Eshame%3C%2Fb%3E%3A+%3Cb%3ETED+Talk%3C%2Fb%3E%3A+Inspiring%3A+Informative%3A+Ideas&c=2&sigr=11bl4qn5d&sigt=12nmn0ia0&age=72485760774&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Av%2Cm%3Asa&&tt=b

Anne Halward – Safe Space Radio: <span “font-size:=”” 10.0pt;font-family:times;mso-fareast-font-family:”times=”” roman”;mso-bidi-font-family:=”” “times=”” roman””=””>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dMlsnrLN9U

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