Under Pressure - Turtle Syndrome

It's been great seeing the comments rolling in about this topic, obviously it's something many of us have experience with!

So, now let's move on to another popular manifestation of the expression of pressure in our bodies: the tight upper body syndrome.

This is a very common condition that brings a lot of folks into my office... tension, pain, stiffness in the neck, shoulders and upper back. Structurally, it seems obvious why this is such a widespread malady... caused by something Moshé Feldenkrais referred to as "flexion addiction". Take a look at the predominant posturing in our culture -- hips flexed as in sitting: sitting to eat, drive, work, anything, and for long periods of time, with arms flexed as well. This alone creates a chronic imbalance between extended (stretched) muscles and contracted muscles. Add to this all of the moments of stress experienced while in this position, and we kind of lock ourselves into this form.

Energetically, let's look at what's happening through the meridian lens.


The yang, (active, strong) meridians are located primarily on the back side of our bodies and limbs. If you curled yourself up into a ball, you would be exposing only the yang meridians. Conversely, the yin (receptive) meridians are on the underbelly, the softer sides of our bodies and limbs. Describing the trend of our culture's posture in this way, it is as if we are assuming more of a protective stance, curling in on our more vulnerable sides, almost becoming like turtles. We put our backs (literally and figuratively) toward things which appear as threats, because they can withstand trauma and pain better than any of our other parts, while our more vulnerable areas, upper chest and abdomen, become more drawn in and, in effect, weaker.

We are, in essence, closing in on ourselves, becoming more contracted, and exacerbating the experience of pressure.

Not only is this manifested externally in our form, but the contraction of structure inhibits full breathing, circulation and ease of organ functioning. More pressure is created as a result, and on and on it goes.

Does this sound accurate to you? Does this feel like your own experience?

Tomorrow's post: some exercises to open up the contraction of the body. See you then!