“Protect Ya Neck” was Wu-Tang’s debut single. I spent ages 12-16 in Santiago, Chile– formative years! When I lived in Chile, I fell into a group that was part of Santiago’s hip hop scene. I never felt like I was part of that scene. During those years, I can say that I never felt fully part of any specific thing- always one foot in, and one foot out. But there was (and still is) something about hip hop that is alluring to me. Sure, there are a lot of problems with hip hop but it’s not my place to pick apart a culture that I don’t fully know. Hip hop is audacious and loud, often brilliant and sometimes crude.
I was a spunky little kid, no doubt, but even in my spunkiest spunk, I always carried around the idea that I “should”(<—- see # 9) be or act a certain way . We grow up with so many messages about what it means to be “good” or to be “a girl” or “a boy” or whatever. These messages come at many levels (political, cultural, peer, familial, etc.) Hip hop gave me an outlet to hear other people speak out, in an emphatic way, about their observations and strife. I am in no way likening my “stuff” to the “stuff” of hip hop artists, but hearing other people speak frankly, inspires me to consider that I might also have something important to say.
Just the other day, my good friend walked into my office and just stared at me. Her brow began to furrow and her eyes were wide. She asked me “what ARE you doing?” For as much body awareness as I believe myself to have, I had no idea that she was referring to the fact that the bottom of my skull was resting on my T1 (thoracic vertebrae.) My cervical spine was pretty much completely collapsed. I imagine that I looked like a pelican does, as it is savoring it’s prey.
Since becoming aware of this, I have noticed just how often I collapse my neck. Why has no one ever pointed it out to me? It’s super weird looking! In order to help release this samaskara (pattern), I have started to integrate Jalandhara Bandha into my practice. In Sanskrit, bandha means “bond” or “lock.” There are 3 main bandhas in yoga and a 4th that ties them all together. Click here to learn more about bandhas.
Jalandhara Bandha activates the Vishuddha chakra (throat chakra). The term chakra gets tossed around a lot these days. When I first started learning about this stuff, the idea of “the subtle energy body” which includes concepts such as chakras, nadis and koshas was incredibly alienating. Over time, I have opened myself up to different frameworks for understanding the layers of anatomy. In many Eastern systems of understanding the body, there are 7 major energy centers located inside the body. In Hindu philosophy, these energy centers are referred to as chakras. In Western science, there are major nerve plexuses located where the chakras are said to be, in the body. Each chakra is associated with the physiology of a specific organ system, glandular system and nerve plexus. The Vishuddha chakra governs voice.
There are several ways to work with this chakra and the approach will vary from person to person, depending on the origin of the disharmony. Blogging is a great way to work with “voice”. By activating the Vishuddha chakra, I am working towards freeing myself to speak fearlessly.
Hip hop helps too.