As a beginning yoga student, it was always hard for me to fully integrate into muscle energy. I could understand the concept that at it's most basic muscle energy draws you more into your core, but to balance that with organic energy, the expressive action of drawing out of your core well it had always been a mystery. It came to me in small segments, muscle energy in the legs--hugging into the midline, drawing from feet to the core of the pelvis, and hugging muscle to bone--the arms were later and so on and we'll touch on that another time ;).
Today in the girls yoga class in JDC, we continued the study of muscle energy and what it takes to hold muscle energy and out of that came the revelation that at one time in these girls lives, they felt it was ok to give up, not try, just plain not care. This anamoly came about in their yoga practice today. There were 8 girls and every one of them, did not want to hold muscle energy and this was evidenced by their stopping just before engaging to tuck in their shirt, fix their socks, or just plain fall out of the pose into some form of what I call in jail, "not wanting to reach for the true potential of your ability because you may actually reach it." These girls were scared to death of actually feeling what it is like to hug into yourself and feel stable.
I finally understood muscle energy by beginning to allow myself to hug into myself and feel how strong I truly am as a woman, as a yoga practioner, as a human being. This was the image that worked for me.....a holding onto the best part of myself. In today's class these girls did not even want to try to engage that, in fact they were afraid to hold onto themselves. One girl even stated, "my body feels weird, what is happening, this is freaking me out." WOW! we took a moment to talk about how feeling strong in your deepest self allows you to become more confident and know that no matter what you can hold onto yourself and hold true to your center. The comments from the girls were in essence, "it doesn't matter we are in jail, we are only getting out of here because we've served our time, then it's back to normal and hope we don't get caught." As the guard and myself sat in silence of the pure truth that was said, it came to me that no one in these girls lives ever allowed them to feel strong enough to hold onto themselves and know that no matter what they were going to be ok because the conviction of knowing yourself gives you the power to change whatever it is you have in front of you. It occured that maybe these girls have never allowed themselves to be shown how strong they are, how strong they can be and how they do not have to be VICTIM to their lives as they are now. We talked for a long time about how seeds in a package don't know what they are, they go in the ground and hug into themselves with muscle energy and then from the energy, they allow themselves to grow into beautiful flowers that are strong enough to sustain themselves. That seeds in a package are just like the girls in JDC, they may not know what they are going to become but they damn well have enough energy inside them to find out that they are beautiful and strong enough to sustain their lives without relying on anyone else but themselves. That today on their mat, they can make the strong choice to be the masters of their destiny and hold into themselves and know that they are strong, beautiful, confident women who can make a difference in their life and the lives of those around them. As we ended with Savasana, one girl who is getting out next week because she is turning 18 said, "you're right, I'm all I have, I'm in foster care and all I wanted was to find a boy to save me from being alone, but I'm going to try to make it on my own." I explained that she could do it, that she is strong enough because being in jail is not for the weak, that it takes a lot to be in jail as a 17 year old girl with no family." This beautiful seed gave me a smile that was as big as I have ever seen her give and I know that maybe someday she will remember that she is strong enough to overcome and in that moment she will bloom the most beautiful flower in her heart!