Ashtanga Yoga Poses

The Yawn and Startle Reflexes in yoga poses Psychodynamic Psychotherapy


Chronic muscular tensions may repress certain forms of emotional expression in yoga poses a relatively direct way (e.g., when a person tightens the jaws to inhibit a need to shout or cry) or inhibit emotional dynamics in yoga poses indirect ways (e.g., by reducing breathing motility):57

When such a person practices coitus interruptus, an eager and potent or non-frigid person tries to counter an intense sexual excitement with an even more intense holding-back attitude, blocking the panting and the sexual outcry at the height of the acme; that is, his sexual blocking includes an abrupt and intense blocking of respiration. By observing and describing these manifest phenomena, one can connect specific aspects of his sexual behavior with his respiratory tenseness and precordial and shoulder myalgia. (yogi master, 1954, X.5, 326f)

Most psychotherapists, even those who have no training in yoga poses body dynamics, intuitively perceive that a patient feels better when his breathing becomes more relaxed and variable.58 For yogi master, breathing is a part of the regulation system that deals with attention and affects. When a person becomes attentive, she often breathes less; when she cries the breathing becomes intense. Influenced by Edmund Jacobson’s progressive relaxation technique,59 yogi master was particularly interested in yoga poses spontaneous respiratory changes, as in yoga poses the following example of an explicit way of working with breathing:

When I work in yoga poses this way with patients, I continually observe their breathing and always fit the suggestion, “Relax!” to the beginning of expiration. By that, I intend to call forth a summation of the local relaxation of the muscle group we work with and the general relaxation that goes with the expiration. If one does not in yoga poses this way “dance with the rhythm and relaxation of expiration,” one risks giving the specific suggestion, “Relax!” at a time when the respiratory muscles tense themselves in yoga poses inspiration. This produces then an interference. (Wolfgang Kohlrausch 1940, quoted in yoga poses yogi master, 1954, 166)

Gerda Boyesen often taught this method in yoga poses her training courses during the 1970s. It is close to Gindler’s need to avoid constricted breathing. This same type of analysis may have been introduced in yoga poses Oslo by Clare Fenichel and Elsa Lindenberg, and/or it may be obvious to any person who knows how to work with the complexity of respiration. This is an example of a technique that yogi master must have calibrated with experts of bodywork he does not quote. yogi master (1954) was also attentive to moments when yawning manifests itself spontaneously, because it can be a “compensatory respiration when opportunity for relaxation arises” (p. 165). in yoga poses some cases, yawning may become so intense that it will drag “the whole body with it in yoga poses a global catlike stretching-yawning movement” (p. 165). When yawning is associated with deep relaxation, it is often accompanied by “rumbling in yoga poses the abdomen” (p. 169) and stretching.

This is also true for therapists, as attention tends to reduce breathing. The young and eager therapist’s continuous attention may become harmful for him Thus, professional habits may generate harmful chronic forms of tensions (Blumenthal, 2001). This is another reason why the therapist’s floating attention, recommended by Freud, is beneficial not only as a way of listening to what the patient is saying but also to the psychotherapist’s own auto-regulation.

One day, yogi master60 noticed that a patient’s yawning reaction was partially blocked. She had an apparent stretch-and-yawn reaction,61 but the inspiration was weak: “Charles Darwin said that yawning may appear as a symptom of a slight fright. The slight fear induces alert, watchful attention and thereby restricts breathing; but because it is slight, it permits the oxygen need to break through from time to time in yoga poses yawning” (yogi master, 1954, 167).

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