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Gentle Yoga: Relax Your Shoulders; Radical Curiosity

I’m curious. Does raising my shoulders cause me to be tense or does my tension cause me to raise my shoulders? Or is it both or something else?

H.E. Davey, master of Japanese yoga and martial arts put it this way: “Relaxing the shoulders is vital for relaxation in general. However, owing to the effects of gravity, relaxation is problematic unless we let the shoulders remain in their natural place. Let the shoulders drop,

or settle in harmony with gravity, into their most comfortable position. It isn’t too difficult to do this for a moment, but to sustain this condition unconsciously in our lives is another matter. We raise our shoulders unnaturally when we lean on a desk or hold the telephone between our shoulders and ears when we are shocked by a loud noise, and who knows h

ow many other times throughout the day. And the unsettling of the shoulders doesn’t have to be large to produce anxiety, stiff necks, and headaches. Just slightly raising them will create tension, and this tension throws the nervous system out of balance.”

On another note, in the February 2nd issue of the Washington Post, there was an article on happiness based on 80 years of research at Harvard. One finding was the value of practicing radical curiosity.

According to the research, radical curiosity along with generosity are keys to successful relationships with others. I believe they are also keys to a satisfying relationship with ourselves.

This week, let’s get curious about how we habitually hold our shoulders, what raises them higher, and how to help them relax and help balance the nervous system. We will complete the class with a deep relaxation exercise from the Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh

“Stop a minute, right where you are. Relax your shoulders, shake your head and spine like a dog shaking off cold water. Tell that imperious voice in your head to be still.” — Barbara Kingsolver

“You should really relax your shoulders more. You look better with a neck.” — Julie Cross

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

Hope you can make it to Willow Street Yoga from 11 am until 12:30 pm on this and every Wednesday. You can sign up in advance at or at the door.



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