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Digging deeper

by acac Personal Trainer Elli Yokochi

“I hold stress in my shoulders,” I hear clients or members say at least a few times a week. We intuitively understand the mind-body connection and widely accept that our thoughts, emotions and lifestyle directly impact our overall health. It doesn’t take a genius to look around and notice the market trends in our society towards a holistic approach to well-being. This is in alignment with decades of research to support the effectiveness and validity of mind-body practices on improving a variety of clinical conditions from high-blood pressure, to cancer, and PTSD to name a few.

Right in our backyard, the University of Virginia has recently founded the multi-million dollar Contemplative Sciences Center, which has partnerships with all eleven schools of UVA. They have wide-ranging initiatives including research, classes on mindfulness, and even 20-minute yoga breaks during final exams. Part of their mission is to be an international leader in this growing field and to build relationships between tradition, research, and application.

With all of that build-up, my main goal is to share some possible mental or emotional causes for the most common physical pain or conditions that I see: low back pain, shoulder pain and being overweight. Check in with yourself and see if they resonate with you. They may not, but perhaps they will get you to think about what the deeper cause might be for you. In my experience, I have seen these other mental/emotional “layers” resonating with people over and over again. This fascinates me because I like to get to the root of the problem rather than putting a “band-aid” on it. Rather than taping a sprained ankle after someone steps into a hole, I want to help that person avoid stepping into the hole next time.

Low back pain is often associated with worrying about money, or lack of financial support. Low back pain also can be attributed to some kind of blocked or stagnant creativity. Or there is something you have always wanted to do and you are not doing it. Another possible cause is not playing enough and taking time for pleasure in life. You can see why low back pain is so common. In our society we work too much and play too little.

I ask people with shoulder pain or injuries if they are “should-ing” themselves; meaning are you doing things you think you “should” do rather than what you want to do. Sometimes a simple change in attitude or the way you talk to yourself can shift this. Realizing that you have a choice and saying you would like to do something instead of “I should.” I’ve also seen people with rounded shoulders look like they literally are carrying a lot of weight on their shoulders, as though life is a burden rather than joyous.

Gaining fat or being overweight can be a need for protection, being oversensitive or anger at being denied nourishment. Louise L. Hay, best-selling author of You Can Heal Your Life, even breaks it down into what fat in specific areas of the body can be telling you.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but I hope it intrigues you enough to dig deeper into your own possible emotional blocks or limiting thought patterns. The good news is that we can change our thought patterns and release what no longer serves us. My desire is to empower you to create radiant health for yourself. I will leave you with some affirmations you can use: “I am strong, healthy, vibrant and energetic.” “I am a radiant being of light.” “I am vibrantly healthy.”

For more information, please email Elli Yokochi.