In Yoga 216 INfrastructure, we talk about valves all the time.
What’s a Valve?
Valve (n): Any device for halting or controlling the flow of a liquid, gas, or other material through a passage, pipe, inlet, outlet, etc.
The term valve comes from Gary Kraftstow’s work with yoga and yoga therapy. It is a term used to identify “misalignments” in the physical body that prohibit the flow of energy within a shape and therefore, its potency.
Many valves are common. Look at a room full of dozens of students attempting to hold on to their foot in Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana and it’s likely that a large percentage of them will share a rounded low back.
Some valves are unique to an individual and her life experiences. An injury in college, a life trauma etc, these things can stick with us, blocking a flow of energy in specific areas and resulting in habitual “poor use” of the body and/or leading to injury.
If we call our valves to consciousness, we can eliminate them and with them, the pain they may bring in the future.
Valves move in much the same way we do when we wriggle away from the discomfort or hard work of something we don’t know how to do yet.
Adjust a valve in one joint, and you may see it transfer to an adjacent joint or joints. For example, if you adjust someone’s rounded lower back in downward facing dog, they may collapse in the shoulders, shifting the valve there.
Avoiding these shifting valves comes through the process of learning how to re-pattern an action. It may also be possible that a person is simply not ready (physically, emotionally, or energetically) for the flow that comes along with being in alignment. Strong sensations, feeling and opinions are not uncommon.
So there you have it –a quick and dirty intro to valves!