Certain terms get easily thrown around in the world of yoga/bodywork and often without any qualification:  energy, prana, qi, life force, flow, space, opening, chakras, kundalini, the laying of hands, the force…It is NOT our stance that these words in-and-of themselves connote nonsense.  Quite the opposite! These terms can be descriptive of very powerful experiences that have been written about for 1,000’s of years by several different Eastern traditions, as well as traditions unique to African/Caribbean/Latino cultures (we are not going to get specific on the history/origin/meaning of these terms or traditions. Too exhaustive.  If you have further questions contact us or use Google.).  But when these words are casually used in other appropriated contexts, without a full understanding of what they really are referring to, the intention is unclear and the experience designed for students becomes problematic.  For example, a well-intentioned, but nevertheless, ignorant yoga teacher says, “Retract your shoulderblades, so that you can lift your chest.  This will help to open you heart chakra.”

EW.  Ew, because the anatomy sucks and one physical movement does not always equal a specific energetic experience for the practitioner.  Not cool. Following these erroneous instructions, people do stupid things that hurt themselves in the vain attempt to feel something they usually cannot.  Here’s what you need to know.  Energy is a REAL aspect and contribution of all living organisms.  No weird woo woo sentiments here.  This is pure physics.  Every living organism comes with its own energy field and the ability to use/create energy.  Running is a perfect example of this principle, which is known as  mechanical energy.  Physical movement both, internal and external, in a conditioned space, like the gravitational field we exist in defines mechanical energy. Oh! So then, everything you do, if you are alive, is creating some mechanical energy.  Stop breathing and then start breathing.  You’ve just used mechanical energy.  OOOOOO, you’re such a wizard! Or, BURN THE WITCH!

No not really.  See that’s the point.  We need to get real about what energy work is, especially if it is to be used therapeutically.  Energy work is another form of bodywork.  In fact, all work that has to do with the body is energetic: massage, acupuncture, yoga, weight lifting.  “Energy work” specifically refers to therapeutic modalities that help to “balance” or “cleanse” a passive recipient’s energy, the electricity that lives in the organs, muscles, connective tissues, all parts of the physical body that are then reflected in our electromagnetic field (some people call this field an “aura.”  It’s the same shit, get over it.)  We are being very general in the description of what the work entails, but this is a 101 post. Keep that in mind.

In a session using energetic therapies a recipient will often stay passive (lying, standing, sitting still) and can often go untouched. See that’s where people get all crazy.  “How could anyone possibly do any effective bodywork without touching someone?!!!!”  It’s a completely valid question and here’s the answer:

There are some people who have been able to develop a sensitivity that allows them to sense someone’s electromagnetic field/aura without having to touch them “physically” and then beneficially manipulate that energy.

If you are having problems really believing or understanding this concept try to release any preconceived notions about the process.  Think like a scientist.  If you can accept the idea that “energy” in all its forms is a real and measurable aspect of all living organisms then you can begin to understand that touching someone’s energy field is still touching/affecting a very real and physical part of the human body, even if hands don’t make contact with the denser manifestation of this energy, which is typically recognized as the muscular/skeletal system and all it contains.

Ok, that’s all for now.  Basically, we wanted to provide a basic understanding of:

  • What “energy” is.
  • What “energy” work does.
  • Demystify the process.
  • Start the conversation to validate these practices from a scientific perspective as much as possible given current scientific findings (which is the SMARTer Bodies m.o. anyways.)
  • Express the importance that all movement teachers learn to use the terms appropriately with a full understanding of what is being referred as to avoid negative experiences for their students.

Questions?  Comments?  Arguments?  We want them all!  Leave them below or contact us.