What a Pain in the Neck!


It was during a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (PRYT) session that something quite profound was revealed to me – It was a mind-blowing experience that changed how I engage with my life, my fears and my joy. So, this pain in my neck had been around for a while, years in fact and showed no signs of going away. Yoga did not seem to be helping in the long term, I bought a new pillow, a new mattress, lay on my back with a cold bottle under my neck… but nothing seemed to shift this tightness. I asked my doctor for an MRI scan which he said showed some degeneration that he would expect to see in someone of my age. All I could hear the doctor saying was the negative stuff – that I was old, my spine was crumbling, and there was nothing I could do to change it.


yoga therapyWhen I came across Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (PRYT) in a workshop and was taken through a simple body scan, it was no surprise that I was drawn to stiffness in my neck – what was surprising was that I started to notice things that I hadn’t noticed before – it felt as if my neck were made of cold steel; on closer reflection, a steel bar screwed into my shoulders which wouldn’t let me turn my head…all I could see was what was ahead of me. There was a flash of insight which related to some anxiety I was holding about the future, a gnawing gloomy feeling in the pit of my stomach about death – not mine, but the death of people I love and how I would never be able to cope without their love. It was as if my neck was locked by these morbid worries about loss and grief. I wasn’t magically able to release anything in my neck but I found this a useful awareness, a direct experience of how the body and the mind are connected. I had an ‘a-ha moment’ of what ‘listening to your body’ actually means. Although I value my doctor and traditional medicine, something changed and I listened to others opinions less, and started to listen to my body more.


Years later, in a 1-2-1 session, I felt the urge to turn my head from side to side, freeing some old stiffness in my neck (yup – still there!). An internal landscape opened up in my head, and all kinds of images and memories popped up to surprise me – I couldn’t make sense of it and the practitioner suggested that I didn’t try to work out what it meant. Towards the end of the session, there would be an opportunity to review what had just happened, and the neck thing really stood out to me. The practitioner asked me if I could connect what I’d noticed in the session with other areas of my life. I wondered who the pain in the neck was, maybe it was me, I started to judge and criticise myself for being a pain in the neck. As I heard the words out loud, it sounded all to familiar. The practitioner guided me to access a part of me that knew without thinking, without the analytical part of my mind that was niggling its usual negativity. Could I get in touch with this part of me? the part that knows without thinking? What did she mean?


She explained more – have you had the experience of just knowing when something is right or sense when something is wrong, a gut feeling for example, or the part that looks out for your well being, that navigates you to safety on auto-pilot before your mind kicks in? Oh yes, that part, now I get it. I was able to find that part of me, as if there was another part of my brain that could step forward when given the space, the chance to be heard – a part that is older than the rest, and it sounds weird but it felt like this part held some ancient wisdom that came from deep inside me, yes from me – what an empowering moment of recognition! It guided me to move my neck again and a memory came to me which I couldn’t possibly have remembered with my thinking mind –  the memory of being born with the umbilical chord around my neck – I was a ‘blue baby’. I imagine this must have been a very traumatic beginning to life, taking my first strangled breath  – not only could I imagine but I could feel it in my body now, this moment of the memory in this same body. It was a story that I’d long forgotten, a story that had been told in my family since the beginning.


The point is that as I was encouraged to really feel into the dark greeny/blue experience that my body had shown me half a century later, to exaggerate it and feel it fully even though it made me feel very anxious, and as I stayed there, a lightness replaced the blue-ness, a feeling of gratitude opened up, amazement that I was ever born at all, that I’d survived the trauma, that I suffered no brain damage, and what a miracle it was to have been born at all. It felt like that place again – the place that knows without thinking – I could access this inner wisdom part of me as well as the familiar critical doubting voice in my head.

expressing joyThe pain in my neck represented something new – it went from fear of the future full of grief, to a bright future full of choice and wonder. Yes, how empowering! how amazing that my body could remind me of something that my mind had long forgotten. Every time I feel into the stiffness in my neck now, it reminds me of that therapy session, of my inner wisdom, and somehow the grip of my neck and jaw soften a little and I notice my easy breath, and reminded how lucky I am to be living here on this magnificent greeny/blue planet.

As a practitioner, each session and client is different, and its always a humbling experience to walk with someone through their own experience, and be a witness to their own truth, and sense of empowerment they receive through the work.

Is your body trying to tell you something? Would you like support in learning to listen to your body?

Contact Judy to book an appointment for a 1-2-1 Yoga Therapy Session and see what your inner wisdom has to tell you about your health, your life or your career.